Black Democrats fiercely defend Biden after special counsel report claims of ‘poor memory’

Democrats are fiercely defending President Joe Biden after a special counsel report exonerating him of any legal ramifications for possessing classified material described the 81-year-old world leader as a “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”

Political strategists tell theGrio that Black voters are likely not concerned about the claims made by Department of Justice special counsel Robert Hur and are more concerned about President Biden delivering for their communities – which they argue is plentiful.

Hur, who led a months-long investigation into Biden after classified documents were found in his private residence last summer, was slammed by the White House on Friday after he claimed in his final report that the president’s memory was “severely limited.”

The Republican prosecutor, whom U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed to conduct an independent investigation into the Biden documents case, asserted in his report that the president could not recall specific dates like when his son, Beau, died of cancer in 2015 or when his term as vice president under President Barack Obama began.  

A few short hours after the report’s release on Thursday, President Biden delivered evening remarks telling the American public that his “memory is fine.” Growing emotional while discussing his deceased son, Biden said, “How in the hell dare he raise that? Frankly, when I was asked the question, I thought to myself, it wasn’t any of their damn business.”

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who served under President Obama, said in a statement on X that Hur – a former U.S. attorney appointed by former President Donald Trump – included “too many gratuitous remarks” that were “flatly inconsistent with long-standing DOJ traditions.” 

Similarly, Vice President Kamala Harris told a reporter on Friday, “The way that the president’s demeanor in that report was characterized could not be more wrong on the facts.”

She added, “When it comes to the role and responsibility of a prosecutor in a situation like that, we should expect that there would be a higher level of integrity than what we saw.”

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during a “First In The Nation” campaign rally at South Carolina State University on Feb. 2, 2024, in Orangeburg, South Carolina. The vice president continues campaigning across the state ahead of the Feb. 3 primary election. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Antjuan Seawright, a Democratic strategist, told theGrio that Hur “could not indict President Joe Biden legally, so he tried to indict him politically.” 

Seawright added, “Trump, on the other hand, was charged with 91 of the most serious and unimaginable crimes, and that seems to be a fading memory for many.”

Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, was indicted for obstructing justice after his own federal investigation over possession of classified documents.  

Politically motivated or not, media pundits and Republican opposition seized on Hur’s report regarding President Biden’s memory, continuing to drive what has been months of concern regarding his age and its effect on his ability to serve another four years if reelected in November.

Seawright lambasted the media and Biden’s distractors for redirecting attention from the successes of the Biden-Harris administration to instead “manufacture outrage” about something that “will not even be a factor when we get into the fall.”

Joel Payne, a Democratic strategist who worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, told theGrio that votes, Black voters in particular, will likely be unconcerned about the Thursday report “written by a partisan Republican.”

“I’m not sure how much penetration that gets, not just in the Black community, but really most communities,” he said. “Black voters are like all voters; they are primarily concerned about their bottom line.” 

Payne said Black voters care more about their economic and social well-being. He also applauded the White House for their quick response in having Biden speak out publicly shortly after the Hur report release. He described Biden as “defiant” and “in command.”

Despite a slip-up on Biden’s part, in which he misspoke, mistaking the president of Egypt for the president of Mexico during his Thursday night remarks, the White House and his defenders dismissed any suggestion that the president’s age is a factor in his ability to do his job.

“The people who he needs to be with him and the coalition he needs to keep together, they’ve done the math on like Joe Biden’s age,” argued Payne. “They did the math in 2020. I don’t think much of that coalition is going to be moved off of Joe Biden just because he’s three years older.”

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden arrives next to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to deliver remarks in Wilmington, Delaware, on Nov. 7, 2020, after being declared the winners of the presidential election. (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

As it relates to Black voters, Payne said something Biden does “particularly well” is “being forthright [and] genuine” – which is what he believes the president demonstrated in his remarks. 

“Voters have a pretty good lie detector,” he added.

Trump, 77, has had his own memory gaffes while on the campaign trail, including confusing his Republican opponent Nikki Haley for U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi and falsely claiming he won an election against former President Obama despite never running against him. 

Seawright said in an almost inevitable general election 2020 rematch between Trump and Biden in November, Democrats will have to highlight “the dangers that come along with Donald Trump,” including all of his rhetoric and actions taken while president.

Speaking about Black Americans, he said Trump “has done everything to undermine us and our efforts to move towards progress.”

On the contrary, he argued, Biden has prioritized the issues important to Black voters. 

“Black voters, knowing that this is perhaps the most consequential election of our lifetime and how the impact of this election will have a generational impact,” said Seawright, “I certainly don’t think that the conversation on K Street will impact what Black voters are thinking about on our streets.”

He added,  “Age has not had an impact on his effectiveness to do the job. And certainly, no one can argue his effectiveness.”

Gerren Keith Gaynor

Gerren Keith Gaynor is a White House Correspondent and the Managing Editor of Politics at theGrio. He is based in Washington, D.C.

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Democrats are defending President Joe Biden after a special counsel report exonerated him from legal ramifications for possessing classified material. The report described Biden as an elderly man with a poor memory, which the White House and Democrats rejected. They argue that Black voters are more concerned about Biden delivering for their communities rather than his memory issues. The special counsel, a Republican prosecutor, claimed that Biden’s memory was severely limited in his report, but the White House and Democrats criticized the report’s characterizations and questioned its integrity. Democrats also pointed out that the prosecutor was appointed by former President Donald Trump and may have had political motives. Despite concerns about Biden’s age and memory, his defenders believe that Black voters will continue to support him and are more concerned about their economic and social well-being. They also believe that Biden has been effective in addressing the issues important to Black voters. Overall, they argue that Biden’s age has not impacted his ability to do his job effectively.

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