Washington: In another embarrassing gaffe, US President Joe Biden confused the presidents of Egypt and Mexico during a press conference, moments after he defended his mental fitness by furiously asserting that his memory was “fine”. Biden’s remarks came after a special US counsel said he “willfully” mishandled classified documents as a private citizen, calling him an “elderly man with a poor memory”.
In response to a question about the humanitarian aid into Gaza through Egypt, Biden mistakenly called Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi as the “President of Mexico”, prompting backlash and mocking comments on social media. “As you know, initially, the president of Mexico, El-Sisi [sic] did not want to open up the gate to allow humanitarian material to get in [to Gaza]. I talked to him. I convinced him to open the gate,” the president said.
This is the latest of Biden’s recent gaffes, including one where he appeared to forget the name of Hamas, the militant group battling Israel in Gaza, and another where he mixed up French President Emmanuel Macron with France’s Former President Francois Mitterrand, who died in 1996.
Biden says “my memory is fine” after report
The special counsel report said Biden had kept secret documents related to military and foreign policy in Afghanistan after serving as vice president until 2017. Special Counsel Robert Hur in his 345-page report described Biden as “an elderly man with poor memory”, prompting a furious response from the president.
The report was released after an investigation that lasted more than a year and related to classified files found at Biden’s home and former private office from 2022-23. The files included notebooks containing Biden’s entries about national security and foreign policy matters “implicating sensitive intelligence sources and methods”.
Biden’s memory was significantly limited, both during his recorded interviews with the ghostwriter in 2017, and in his interview with the Special Counsel’s office in 2023, wrote Hur. “And his cooperation with our investigation, including by reporting to the government that the Afghanistan documents were in his Delaware garage, will likely convince some jurors that he made an innocent mistake, rather than acting willfully-that is, with intent to break the law as the statute requires,” he added.
The special counsel’s report said that it would be difficult to convict the president of improper handling of files because Biden “would likely present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview of him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with poor memory. At the press conference, Biden lashed out by saying, “My memory is fine. Take a look at what I’ve done since I became president. None of you thought could I pass any of the things I got passed. How did that happen? I guess I just forgot what was going on.”
One reporter asked Biden, “How bad is your memory and can you continue as president?” In response, the US President said, “My memory is so bad I let you speak.” Biden also said he is pleased that Hur “reached a firm conclusion that no charges should be brought against me in this case”.
“The special counsel acknowledged I cooperated completely. I did not throw up any roadblocks. I sought no delays.” He said that he cooperated with the investigation and sat for a five hour interview over two days in October, “even though Israel had just been attacked by Hamas.”
Biden’s previous gaffes
Biden was seen in a recent video struggling to remember the name of Palestine-based militant group Hamas, when asked about the discussions between the group and Israel over the captured hostages amid the ongoing war in Gaza, going so far as to call it “opposition” during a stumbling speech.
Recently, Biden stunned the world when he claimed he met a French president who had died around three decades ago. While addressing a crowd in Las Vegas on Sunday, Biden, who turned 81 last November, erroneously reminisced about his recent conversation with former French president Francois Mitterrand who died in January 1996. According to Biden, he had met Mitterrand during a 2021 meeting with world leaders.
On Wednesday, Biden recalled speaking with the late German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, despite Kohl dying in 2017, at that same G7 meeting. Earlier last year, he claimed 100 people, instead of 1 million, died in the COVID-19 pandemic, which left behind “8 million people who were close to them.
Voters from both parties have told pollsters they are concerned about the age of Biden, who will be 86 if he is reelected and serves a second term. In a recent survey, some 59 per cent of US voters believe that US President Joe Biden is getting increasingly less mentally sharp as he is set to run for reelection in November, Sputnik reported quoting Rasmussen.
(with inputs from agencies)
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