Biden showing signs of cognitive decline, US lawmakers tell WSJ

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

US President Joe Biden checks his watch before delivering remarks on the Middle East, from the State Dining Room of the White House, May 31, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
US President Joe Biden checks his watch before delivering remarks on the Middle East, from the State Dining Room of the White House, May 31, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

US President Joe Biden, 81, shows signs of cognitive decline in closed-door meetings, reports the Wall Street Journal, basing its months-long investigation on interviews with more than 45 people.

The White House and other Democrats pushed back forcefully on the report.

The majority of those who expressed concern were Republicans, said the WSJ, but some Democrats also revealed that Biden had shown signs of decline.

The article says the accounts describe “an unevenness” in meetings, though “not the caricature of an addled leader that some of his political opponents draw.”

In a key January meeting on Ukraine military aid, according to the WSJ, “the president moved so slowly around the Cabinet Room to greet the nearly two dozen congressional leaders that it took about 10 minutes for the meeting to begin, some people who attended recalled.”

Attendees also had trouble hearing Biden, as he read general points that had already been agreed upon from notes and repeatedly deferred to others.

“You couldn’t be there and not feel uncomfortable,” an attendee says. “I’ll just say that.”

Democrats in attendance disagreed with that characterization. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries says Biden was “incredibly strong, forceful and decisive.”

In other key meetings, including during May 2023 negotiations on raising the debt ceiling, Republicans said at times the president was sharp and spontaneous, while on other days he would repeat stories and bring up issues that were already solved.

Biden’s challenger former president Donald Trump, only 3.5 years his junior, has also faced scrutiny for confusing names of officials and seeming to nod off during his criminal trial.

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