But Mr. Hur made a particularly striking assertion in stating that Mr. Biden “did not remember when he was vice president.” As evidence, Mr. Hur quoted him as saying, “If it was 2013 — when did I stop being vice president?” According to the report, Mr. Biden displayed similar confusion on the second day of questioning, asking, “In 2009, am I still vice president?”

The transcript provides context for those lines. In both instances, Mr. Biden said the wrong year but appeared to recognize that he had misspoken and immediately stopped to seek clarity and orient himself.

The first unfolded as Mr. Biden stressed that he did not know how material about an internal Obama administration debate in 2009 about the Afghanistan war had ended up in his Delaware garage:

BIDEN: Somebody must’ve, packing this up, just picked up all the stuff and put it in a box, because I didn’t.

HUR: OK. Do you have any idea where this material would’ve been before it got moved into the garage?

BIDEN: Well, if it was 2013 — when did I stop being vice president?

COTTON: 2017.

BIDEN: So I was vice president. So it must’ve come from vice-president stuff. That’s all I can think of.

The second happened when Mr. Biden was asked about how a particular folder of those same documents ended up in his garage. Again discussing the end of his vice presidency in 2017, he mistakenly instead invoked the year the documents were from:

BIDEN: My problem was I never knew where any of the documents or boxes were specifically coming from or who packed them. Just did I get them delivered to me. And so this is — I’m, at this stage, in 2009, am I still vice president?

[indiscernible whispering]

BIDEN: Yeah, OK.

Mr. Krickbaum then said he saw that Mr. Biden was “flipping ahead” and the conversation moved on.

In portraying the president’s memory as unusually faulty, Mr. Hur singled out one other issue: whether Mr. Biden accurately remembered the stance of a diplomat in Afghanistan. According to the report, Mr. Biden, in discussing a memo he wrote to President Barack Obama in 2009 arguing against a surge of additional troops to Afghanistan, had mistakenly said he “had a real difference” of opinion with Karl Eikenberry, who was the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan. In fact, Mr. Hur noted, Mr. Eikenberry, like Mr. Biden, had opposed a surge.

That line came when Mr. Biden interrupted himself during a lengthy recollection of the internal administration debate over whether Mr. Obama should order a surge:

BIDEN: I’ll just tell you one thing, it has nothing to do with the investigation, you’ll understand why this is sensitive. The president thought that I knew a lot more about Afghanistan than he did and other members of the administration. He knew I had a real difference with the key foreign policy types, particularly — whether it was Eikenberry or whether it was — anyway. And he was looking for me to make my case as strong as I could, without him having to ask for it or being associated with it, because his concern in this period was he didn’t have overwhelming foreign policy experience, and how could he take on the most premier members of the foreign policy establishment in his administration. Quite a few that said, go, do this. So he was looking for me to make the strongest case I could. So I’d be the guy that’d basically take the heat, which I was prepared to do because I knew as much about it as they did.

Notably, later that same day, Mr. Biden invoked Mr. Eikenberry again. In that passage, Mr. Biden made clear that he recalled that Mr. Eikenberry shared his opposition to sending additional troops to Afghanistan. Mr. Biden was discussing a typed file he may or may not have seen before writing his 2009 memo to Mr. Obama.

BIDEN: I received this before I wrote the other, it was added argument why he should listen to my argument. I’m talking about — you know, “I had a long conversation with Eikenberry, yes, I urge you to call him before you make a decision. Karl can speak for himself and he has eloquently in some of his cables, let me relay just a few things. Adding troops will not speed up the ability to train Afghans because…” etc. So these are criticisms of the proposal that was being made to the president by, by others in the administration wanting him to double down in Afghanistan.

In his report, Mr. Hur did not mention this second discussion of Mr. Eikenberry’s position.

Mr. Biden went into great detail about many matters, the transcript shows. He made jokes over the two days, teasing the prosecutors. And at certain points, he corrected his interrogators when they were the ones who misspoke.


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Credit: NYTimes.com

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