Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Biden blocks release of interview tapes showing his ‘poor memory’

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Joe Biden has blocked the release of interview tapes in which he showed “poor memory” and behaved like a “well-meaning, elderly man”.

The US president used his powers of executive privilege to stop audio files from an interview with a federal prosecutor from being released to Congress.

White House officials suggested they did not want excerpts of the tape to be cut and used against Mr Biden in the election campaign.

Mr Biden, 81, was interviewed last year by Robert Hur, a special prosecutor appointed to investigate claims he had illegally stored classified documents in his garage after serving as vice-president from 2009 to 2017.

Mr Hur later raised concerns about Mr Biden’s memory, suggesting that he had forgotten the dates he had served in Barack Obama’s administration and the year of his son’s death.

In a report released in February, Mr Hur recommended that Mr Biden was not prosecuted because a jury would find him to be a “sympathetic, well-meaning elderly man with a poor memory”.

Committees investigate

Although the transcripts from the interviews have been published, Mr Biden has stepped in to prevent the audio files taken by Mr Hur’s team from being released.

The justice department told Congress on Thursday that the Biden administration would not comply with a subpoena for the tapes, issued by the House judiciary committee and the House committee on oversight and accountability.

The committees are investigating the matter after some Republicans accused Mr Hur of deliberately overlooking Mr Biden’s alleged wrongdoing for political reasons. Mr Hur denies that claim.

In a letter to the Republican leaders of the committees, the White House’s top lawyer said the tapes had been requested to fuel a politically motivated investigation into Mr Biden, and that their release could jeopardise future investigations.

“The absence of a legitimate need for the audio recordings lays bare your likely goal – to chop them up, distort them, and use them for partisan political purposes,” Ed Siskel, the White House’s chief counsel, wrote.

“Demanding such sensitive and constitutionally-protected law enforcement materials from the Executive Branch because you want to manipulate them for potential political gain is inappropriate.”

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