The Biden-Harris campaign, its surrogates and allies were forced to do damage control Friday after special counsel Robert Hoare’s report into President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents painted a harsh picture of his age and memory, raising new questions for voters nine months ago. November elections.
Although Hoare did not bring criminal charges, his report levied what amounted to a political indictment against the 81-year-old president, with investigators writing that the main reason for not pursuing charges was that “Biden would likely present himself before a jury, “As it is.” “As we did during our interview with him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning old man with a poor memory.”
Biden clapped back at a hastily scheduled news conference Thursday night, just hours after the report was released, telling reporters: “I mean well, and I’m an old man, and I know what the hell I’m doing.” “.
The president’s top representatives, from Vice President Kamala Harris to Democrats in Congress, continued to push back on Friday, dismissing the special counsel’s report as “politically motivated” and “inappropriate.”
The Biden campaign declined to comment when asked how it was trying to allay renewed concerns about the president’s age.
A source familiar with the campaign’s thinking told ABC News that Republicans attacking the president’s age is nothing new, saying that strategy did not work in 2020 and will not work in 2024, when the source said voters value experience and wisdom as well.
Here are five ways Biden’s allies are responding:
Hoare is a Trump appointee and a Republican
Biden’s replacements were quick to point out that Robert Hoare, a Republican, was appointed by former President Donald Trump to be U.S. Attorney in Maryland in 2018. However, it was Attorney General Merrick Garland, a Biden appointee, who chose Hoare to lead the country. Investigation into Biden’s handling of classified documents.
Some now accuse Hoar of having an agenda even though there is not enough evidence to criminally charge Biden.
“Ultimately, it seems as if the special counsel couldn’t charge him with anything, so he just threw the books at him anyway,” said former Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile, an ABC News contributor. He added: “It appears that the report was going to be published in the New York Post or on the Trump campaign website. It did not appear to be a legal document.”
Rep. Dan Goldman, D-N.Y., in an interview with ABC News on Thursday, called Biden’s description of the report “a partisan editorial by a Republican-appointed attorney general.”
“This is a Republican special counsel who went out of his way to write op-eds and include material in his report that was unnecessary and irrelevant to what he was assigned to do,” Goldman said of Hoare. He added: “The fact that he is a Republican and is exonerating President Biden, he knows that he will be attacked because Republicans want to create this false equivalence between President Biden and former President Trump.”
Democratic Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, in an unrelated news conference on Friday, called Hoare’s comments “unfair” and “unnecessary,” also noting that he was a GOP appointee.
“I smell a rat in the comments that were made,” he told reporters.
Hoare had no comment.
It cannot be compared to the Trump secret documents case
Biden aides and allies say the bottom line is that while the investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents ended in charges, Biden cooperated fully, and Hoare decided there was not enough evidence to charge him.
They say this should be compared to Trump’s case, where he was accused of obstructing efforts to secure documents.
Jim Messina, former President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign manager, urged his social media followers not to equate the special counsel’s “heavy editorial report” as a greater liability than the 91 criminal charges pending against Trump. (Trump has denied all wrongdoing.)
“Hoare, a lifelong Republican and D.C. maker, did not have a case against Biden, but he knew exactly how his strikes could hurt Biden politically,” Messina said in a statement. mail.
“We have to stop treating one line in the special counsel’s long and inexcusably rambling report — in which no crime was found — by a partisan Republican investigator as if it were a bigger liability than the 91 criminal charges brought by Trump and his finding. Responsible for “Rape.” He said In another.
Rep. Jim Himes, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, also highlighted on social media on Friday the differences between the Trump and Biden investigations.
He said in a speech, “Read the documents. It is not difficult. Biden cooperated fully. Trump obstructed at every turn.” mail. “They know it. They know how damaging their arguments can be to Americans’ confidence in their democracy.”
While Trump’s popularity among Republican voters has risen with each criminal indictment, according to his national polling average of 538, Biden’s mishandling of documents may not be so easily accepted by his base.
There is also a gap when it comes to perceptions of Trump, 77, and Biden, 81. vote It found that 62% of voters had “major concerns” about Biden’s age while only 34% had “major concerns” about Trump’s age.
The Special Counsel does not have the right to make “unwarranted” statements.
“Gratuitous” quickly became a buzzword for Democrats to describe the language they objected to in the Hoare report.
“The way the president’s conduct was described in that report could not be more factually incorrect, clearly politically motivated and unjustified,” said Vice President Kamala Harris, a former federal prosecutor. “When it comes to the role and responsibility of the prosecutor in a situation like this, we should expect that there will be a higher level of integrity than we have seen,” she added.
The Democratic National Committee’s War Room on Friday blasted a newspaper email listing nearly a dozen instances of other prosecutors and legal experts questioning whether Hoare’s comments about Biden’s anniversary were appropriate, with the email calling them “cheap political shots that came straight from Republican talk.” About MAGA points.
Among the voices was former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder, who said in an
Ian Sams, spokesman for the White House counsel’s office, was among the first to do so Excellence She called Hoare’s criticism of Biden’s memorial “inaccurate, unwarranted, and wrong.”
Telling Biden’s personal stories of mental agility
Biden’s allies are also offering first-hand accounts of Biden’s acuity as they face renewed questions about his mental acuity.
Goldman recounted in several interviews how he spoke with Biden the day before the president’s voluntary interview with the special counsel on October 8, the day after Hamas attacked Israel.
“He was incredibly on point. His recollection and knowledge of a very difficult geopolitical situation was remarkable from the beginning. He had spoken to a number of leaders, and he knew exactly where the pressure points were,” Goldman said. “And this is where his age is very useful because he has 50 years of foreign policy experience.”
Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison also shared Biden’s story in a post, moments after the president’s impromptu news conference Thursday night.
“At AF1, I talked to him about a myriad of topics from politics to family. I saw him tear down the house in South Carolina as he talked about promises made and promises kept!” Harrison assured his followers.
Other Democrats flatly state the undeniable truth: Biden is old.
But so is Trump, they add.
“President Biden and former President Donald Trump are both old, and if this is the only issue in the 2024 campaign, the American people will have to decide between two old men,” Brazile said. He added: “The president admitted that he is an old man, and he also admitted that he is still able to do the work on behalf of the American people. I don’t know what else we can say.”
The youngest member of Congress, Rep. Maxwell Frost, D-Fla., on a Biden-Harris campaign press call on an unrelated topic on Friday, flatly acknowledged that Biden is “too old” but veered into the administration’s record, which he said is what will work. It’s the Democrats.
“Number one, yeah. Well. President Biden is old. Well. Yeah. It doesn’t seem like breaking news to me,” said Frost, 27. “When it comes to how this affects people who are voting on the ballot.” “And how Joe Biden’s candidacy will impact voters, I see nothing but positive — because we’re looking at an agenda and we’re looking at a positive record.”
Biden isn’t the only confusing names, neither are Trump and Johnson
Report Alleging Biden Couldn’t Remember His Years as Vice President or When His Son Beau Died The president followed up on twice this week conflating European leaders with their dead predecessors — examples his allies dismiss as common mistakes.
“If he had a fleeting moment that he couldn’t remember, while his mind was racing from the war in the Middle East to the questions he was asking, I think that’s understandable for any of us,” Goldman told ABC News Live.
After Biden mistakenly called Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi the president of Mexico during his press conference, his representatives were quick to pounce on the fact that Biden is not the only major politician to have his name mixed up recently.
Goldman called that “intrusive” and “inappropriate,” he said, “unless you’re also going to do it to Speaker of the House Mike Johnson or someone else who makes a mistake.”
It is worth noting that the House Speaker conflated Iran and Israel last week on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, and Trump, at a rally last month, twice mentioned Nikki Haley when he meant Nancy Pelosi. Trump also repeatedly conflated former President Barack Obama with Biden at recent rallies.
This article originally appeared on abcnews.go.com