". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Johnson on Biden’s Mental Decline: ‘I Will Submit to a Polygraph’ if Anyone Doubts My Interactions

June 8, 2024

After Joe Biden’s “perpetual state of confusion” at this week’s D-Day commemoration, rumors about the president’s diminished mental state are picking up even more steam. A bombshell article by The Wall Street Journal, which paints the picture of a man in steep cognitive decline, is adding to the White House’s panic leading up to the November elections. Already, 63% of Americans admit they’re “not very” or “not at all” confident that Biden has a sound enough mind to serve effectively as president. And after a number of disconcerting meetings with the president, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) might be one of them.

In a sweeping story that involved interviews with more than 45 people, WSJ’s Annie Linskey and Siobhan Hughes are the latest to sound the alarm about Biden’s mental fitness behind closed doors. The reporters talked to both Republicans and Democrats “who either participated in meetings with Biden or were briefed on them contemporaneously, including administration officials and other Democrats who found no fault in the president’s handling of the meetings.” Up front, they make it clear that Republicans were more likely to say Biden “performed poorly.” Even so, the duo discovered that some Democrats were willing to concede that the 81-year-old president was showing his age.

Back in January, when Biden met with congressional leaders on Ukraine aid, five observers said, “he spoke so softly at times that some participants struggled to hear him. … He read from notes to make obvious points, paused for extended periods and sometimes closed his eyes for so long that some in the room wondered whether he had tuned out.”

This is especially interesting, Linskey and Hughes note, since the president has largely stayed out of the spotlight unless he’s scripted. In fact, White House advisors have been so careful to shield Biden that by the end of April “he had given fewer interviews and press conferences than any of his recent predecessors, according to data collected by Martha Joynt Kumar, an emeritus professor at Towson University.” Even meetings with lawmakers have dropped precipitously, the WSJ pointed out after combing through visitor logs.

Biden’s decline was especially obvious, observers said, when Johnson and Biden were alone in the Oval Office in February. While the speaker never spoke to the press about it, others knew from talking to him that the president’s memory blanked on a key decision the White House had made the month before to freeze permits for liquified natural gas (LNG) exports. When Biden wanted to know what it would take to get the Ukraine funding bill to the floor, Johnson replied that his latest energy policy was making that difficult. By blocking the applications to send LNG overseas, Russia had been able to monopolize the European market.

“Mr. President,” Johnson replied, “you are helping Vladimir Putin,” said “one of the people briefed on the exchange.” Biden insisted that wasn’t true, and that the new policy “was only a study.” The speaker was stunned that the president didn’t remember his own policy, WSJ’s sources revealed.

Months earlier, Johnson’s predecessor, Kevin McCarthy, had a similar experience. “His demeanor and command of the details seemed to shift from one day to the next,” the former speaker explained. Mumbling and relying on notes, Biden struggled in meetings, Republicans would say later. “‘You couldn’t be there and not feel uncomfortable,’ said one person who attended. ‘I’ll just say that.’”

“I used to meet with him when he was vice president. I’d go to his house,” McCarthy explained. “He’s not the same person.”

Since the Ukraine exchange, White House officials have “disputed” that Biden forgot his own energy policy, telling the WSJ that the oldest person to hold the presidency “has been sharp.” Far from it, the speaker countered on “This Week on the Hill” with Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, where he finally opened up about the incident.

It’s a “big news story,” Johnson admitted. “The Wall Street Journal reporters interviewed, I think, around 50 people — Republicans and Democrats — about the president’s mental acumen,” he reiterated, “and … it was quite obvious to everyone that he’s not on his A-game. I’ll say that charitably. And they quoted an exchange that he and I had in the Oval Office, just the two of us. There were several people who talked about that.”

The speaker explained that he didn’t provide comment to the WSJ, but on Saturday’s show, he confirmed that the report was accurate. “… When we were talking about his executive order on LNG exports, and he intimated to me that he didn’t quite understand what he signed — that he didn’t know that he paused exports. And that’s had a terrible effect on the country, our security, our economy. And it’s fueling Vladimir Putin’s war machine, because Europe has to get their gas from him instead of from us. And the president tried to argue with me and tell me that he didn’t do that, when clearly he did. That was a subject of the article.”

Now, months later, people are trying to dismiss Johnson’s account. “And I’ve said if anybody disputes the account of that, I will submit to a polygraph, because I know exactly how that conversation went down, and I’m telling the truth about it. I take no pleasure in that because we’re projecting weakness on the world stage. This president is not thinking.”

Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.