White House says it was Biden’s idea to hold widely panned press conference

The White House on Tuesday defended President Biden‘s hastily called press conference last week to rebut claims in special counsel Robert Hur‘s report that the president’s memory is so poor he likely couldn’t be convicted of willfully retaining classified documents.

The Thursday press conference in which the president attempted to defend his mental acuity was widely panned and labeled a “disaster” by a host of media outlets.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre the press briefing was Mr. Biden‘s own idea and declined to say if any top aides tried to talk him out of it.

“He believes he did the right thing,” she said.

“The president went out Thursday on the day the report came out,” she said. “It was important, we believe, for the American people to hear directly from the president in a forceful way what he thought about the special counsel report. He took your questions.”

In explaining his reasons for not recommending formal charges in the case, Mr. Hur wrote that the president in interviews with investigators displayed a “hazy” memory about his time as vice president and that he couldn’t remember when he was vice president or when his son Beau died.

Mr. Biden gave a brief address challenging Mr. Hur‘s characterization and fielded a barrage of questions from reporters about his age and memory.

The president appeared to struggle at times during the session, at times becoming visibly angry with the flurry of questions. While insisting his memory was “fine,” he couldn’t remember the name of the church where he got a rosary for his deceased son and mixed up the presidents of Egypt and Mexico.

The New York Times called the event a “political disaster.” Axios said the president came across as “an elderly irritable man struggling on a public stage.”

The outlet called Mr. Biden‘s performance during the press conference “shaky,” writing that it was a “nightmare for his staff.”

Business Insider summed up the press conference as a “bad night” for the president and The Guardian noted Mr. Biden‘s flubs, saying he “put his foot in it again,” after insisting his memory was not an issue.

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