US Attorney General Garland says Biden has ‘no impairment’

By Thomson Reuters Apr 16, 2024 | 11:00 AM

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland defended President Joe Biden’s mental fitness on Tuesday, telling lawmakers on a House of Representatives panel that he has expertly handled both foreign and domestic matters.

“The president has no impairment,” Garland told a House appropriations subcommittee.

“I have watched him expertly guide meetings of staff and of cabinet members on issues of foreign affairs and military strategy and policy,” he added, saying Biden has been decisive in making decisions to protect the country.

“I have complete confidence in the president,” Garland added.

Tuesday marked the first time the attorney general has publicly offered his own observations about the mental fitness of Biden, who at age 81 is the oldest U.S. president to hold office.

Opinion polls show Biden’s age is a top concern for voters as he campaigns for a second term in the Nov. 5 presidential election against Republican Donald Trump, 77.

The issue of mental competency has become a major topic in this year’s presidential campaign, as Biden and Trump are the two oldest men respectively to have been elected president.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll in September found 77% of respondents said they agreed with a statement that Biden was too old to work in government, while 56% said the same of Trump.

A February report by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Hur suggested the president suffered memory losses, which the White House has strongly disputed.

Garland on Tuesday declined to comment specifically on Hur’s observations about Biden’s memory in the report.

However, he volunteered his own observations about Biden, based on his experience as a cabinet member and member of the National Security Council.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Andy Sullivan; and Jonathan Oatis)