Analyzing the Discrepancy: Special Counsel’s Depiction of Biden’s Memory Versus Transcript Details

President Biden voiced strong indignation over a particular inquiry, expressing his disbelief during a press conference that followed the release of Mr. Hur’s report. “How in the world could he bring that up?” the president remarked. “To be honest, when the question was posed to me, my immediate thought was that it was none of their business.”

The transcript reveals that Mr. Hur did not directly question the timing of Beau Biden’s passing. Instead, he probed President Biden about the whereabouts of documents related to his post-vice-presidential activities, which included teaching at a Washington think tank, leading a cancer research initiative, and authoring a book about his late son, Beau.

During this exchange, President Biden, who has a history of stuttering, momentarily mixed up his words. He mistakenly referred to his departure from the Senate instead of his vice-presidential tenure and confused events from 2015—when Beau passed away and he decided not to challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination—with those from 2017, when he penned his memoir and contemplated a presidential run in 2020:

BIDEN: Well, um… I, I, I, I, I’m not sure. This is, what, 2017, 2018, around that time?

HUR: Yes, sir.

BIDEN: You see, during this period, my son was either deployed or nearing the end of his life, and, by the way, there were still many encouraging me to run during this time, except for the president. It’s not a criticism; he simply believed she had a better chance of winning the presidency than I did. And so, at this point—although I was at Penn—I hadn’t abandoned the idea of running for office again. But if I did run, it would be for the presidency. And what was happening then—what month did Beau pass away? Oh, God, May 30—



BIDEN: Was it 2015 he passed?


BIDEN: It was 2015.

ROBERT BAUER, BIDEN’S PERSONAL LAWYER: Or—I’m not certain of the month, sir, but I believe that was the year.

MARC KRICKBAUM, HUR’S DEPUTY: That’s correct, Mr. President. It—

BIDEN: And in the meantime, Trump was elected in November of 2017?



BIDEN: ’16, 2016. Alright. So—why do I have 2017 here?

ED SISKEL, BIDEN’S WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: That’s when you left office, January of 2017.

BIDEN: Yeah, OK. But that’s when Trump was sworn in, January.

SISKEL: Right.

BAUER: Right, correct.

BIDEN: OK, yeah. And in 2017, Beau had passed and—this is personal…

President Biden then shared the story of Beau’s death, the inspiration behind his book “Promise Me, Dad,” based on his son’s dying wish for him to continue his public service, and how the 2017 Charlottesville rally by white nationalists compelled him to challenge Donald J. Trump for the presidency.

Additionally, the transcript noted a few minor errors by Mr. Biden that Mr. Hur’s report did not highlight. For instance, President Biden needed a reminder of the National Archives’ name—the agency responsible for maintaining official records—and the term “fax machine,” the device used for sending document images over phone lines.

Mr. Hur made a particularly notable claim, suggesting that Mr. Biden had moments of forgetfulness regarding his vice-presidential tenure. He cited Mr. Biden asking, “If it was 2013—when did I stop being vice president?” This confusion persisted into the second day of questioning, with Mr. Biden inquiring, “In 2009, am I still vice president?”