On Feb. 8, 2024, during a surprise news conference, U.S. President Joe Biden appeared to mix up the world leaders of Egypt and Mexico. In the same briefing, Biden fired back against a special counsel report that said he struggled to recall key life events and mishandled classified files.
Even as he defended himself and said his memory was “fine,” Biden appeared to experience some confusion, as seen in numerous posts and clips from the news conference shared on X. One post said: “While Vladimir Putin spoke to Tucker Carlson for two hours on Russian history, the war in Ukraine and major geopolitical developments, Joe Biden confused the president of Egypt with the president of Mexico.”
While Vladimir Putin spoke to Tucker Carlson for two hours on Russian history, the war in Ukraine and major geopolitical developments, Joe Biden confused the president of Egypt with the president of Mexico.....
— Richard (@ricwe123) February 9, 2024
Biden did indeed confuse the names of the leaders of Egypt and Mexico, based on video evidence from the news conference as well as reliable news reports. We reached out to the White House to get more information.
During his speech, while responding to a question about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Biden took credit for persuading Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to open the border between Gaza and Egypt to allow humanitarian aid to enter. He said: “I think as you know initially, the president of Mexico, Sisi, did not want to open up the gate to allow humanitarian material to get in. I talked to him. I convinced him to open the gate.”
The exact comments can be heard around the 9:34 minute mark in this video of the news conference from the official White House official YouTube account:
The president of Mexico is Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
As of this writing, the White House has not yet uploaded the official transcript of Biden's Feb. 8, 2024, remarks onto its website. We reached out to the press office to learn more about when or if it would be available. The White House did release Biden’s official statement on the special counsel’s findings, in which he said:
The Special Counsel released today its findings about its look into my handling of classified documents. I was pleased to see they reached the conclusion I believed all along they would reach – that there would be no charges brought in this case and the matter is now closed.
This was an exhaustive investigation going back more than 40 years, even into the 1970s when I was a young Senator. I cooperated completely, threw up no roadblocks, and sought no delays. In fact, I was so determined to give the Special Counsel what they needed that I went forward with five hours of in-person interviews over two days on October 8th and 9th of last year, even though Israel had just been attacked on October 7th and I was in the middle of handling an international crisis. I just believed that’s what I owed the American people so they could know no charges would be brought and the matter closed.
This was not the first time Biden confused the names and positions of world leaders. Just a few days before the flub about El-Sisi, Biden said he spoke in 2021 with former French President Francois Mitterrand, who died in 1996. He apparently meant to refer to the current French president, Emmanuel Macron. In January 2024, Biden mistakenly called former U.S. President Donald Trump the "sitting president."
With the 2024 U.S. presidential election looming, Biden’s mental acuity was under increasing scrutiny. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre refused to engage with a question from Fox News on the subject after Biden’s gaffe about Mitterrand.
Biden has also referred to himself as a “gaffe machine” over the years, and we have numerous fact checks featuring such gaffes.