Biden's Brain, Trump's Brain

Robert Reich / Substack
Biden's Brain, Trump's Brain Economist Robert Reich. (photo: Getty)

And last night’s bombshell


Yesterday evening, special counsel Robert K. Hur — appointed in January 2023 by Attorney General Merrick Garland to lead an inquiry into President Biden’s possible criminality after classified files were found in the garage and living areas of Biden’s home in Delaware — cleared Biden of any wrongdoing.

But Hur also suggested that one reason Biden could not be prosecuted was because of his memory lapses — thereby underscoring one of the biggest issues that the public is concerned about in reelecting Biden: His aging brain.

In recounting his interviews with Biden, Hur portrayed him as unable to remember key dates of his time in President Barack Obama’s White House. Hur wrote:

“Mr. Biden would likely present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview with him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory,” and that it would be difficult to convince a jury that “a former president well into his 80s” was guilty of a felony that “requires a mental state of willfulness.”

I don’t know how much this statement by special counsel Hur will hurt Biden, but it surely will not help.

Yet let me point out five things:

  1. Special counsel Hur has no professional background or experience diagnosing age-related memory loss. In fact, he has no medical background at all. His conclusion that Biden has a “poor memory” is entirely subjective, based on Hur’s own guess about how a jury would respond to Biden.

  2. Some memory loss naturally comes with aging, and both Biden (age 81) and his likely Republican opponent, Donald Trump (age 77) have demonstrated memory loss as well as confusion. (Trump recently confused Nikki Haley with Nancy Pelosi, for example.)

  3. For the purposes of electing the next president, the relevant question isn’t a candidate’s memory. It’s his knowledge, temperament, and judgment. We have no reason to doubt these attributes in Biden. He has been the adult in the room. But the likely Republican nominee notably lacks all these qualities. To the contrary, Trump has consistently and repeatedly demonstrated willful ignorance, a sociopathic temperament, and the judgment of a five-year-old. Trump has been indicted on 91 criminal counts.

  4. Hur is a former Trump Justice Department official. I don’t know about you, but I can’t help wonder why Hur thought it useful to predict that a jury would likely find Biden to be an “elderly man with a poor memory” — unless, perhaps, Hur thought it politically useful. Could it possibly be that Hur — whom Trump appointed to the Justice Department, who was a top adviser to Trump’s then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and whom Trump then nominated to be U.S. attorney for Maryland — might have known he would set off a political bombshell? How could he not have known?

  5. Clearly, the reason Biden should not be indicted for stealing government documents is that he had no intention of doing so. In sharp contrast to Trump —who refused to turn over documents that had been subpoenaed and undertook other efforts to thwart investigators — Biden did not willfully retain papers; he cooperated with investigators the moment the documents were found.
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