Comparing President Biden and Donald Trump’s mishandling of documents is like comparing apples to arsenic. Biden’s lawyers immediately turned in the documents discovered to investigators – right when they were found. The president is cooperating fully with the rule of law, while Donald Trump continues his long-standing campaign of lies and he repeatedly obstructed efforts to retrieve sensitive documents to the point the Department of Justice had to obtain and execute a search warrant. The absolute lack of investigations by the new MAGA House Majority of Trump’s theft of classified documents and obstruction of efforts to get them back is gobsmackingly hypocritical. The MAGA House is openly admitting to continuing the dirty work of Donald Trump to bring more power for themselves, harm President Biden, and work on their ongoing campaign to take away our rights.
New York Magazine: Biden’s Document Blunder Is Nothing Like Trump’s Crime. “Trump is facing charges because he defied the law. The sweet spot for Donald Trump’s allies has always been when they can justify his abuses and crimes through misdirected comparisons rather than direct defense. Did Trump extort Ukraine into smearing his opponent? Well, Ted Kennedy once did something kind of like this. Did Trump try to stay in office after losing the election? Maybe so, but let us tell you about the time a Democrat registered an objection to the Electoral College count in Congress. The key aspect of these arguments is exaggeration, not fabrication. They seize on real events, often genuinely bad things done by other politicians, then use them as pretext to dismiss actions by Trump of a vastly greater order of magnitude. As many people have very neutrally pointed out, the news that President Biden held on to classified documents is pure manna for Trump’s defenders. It gives them a set of facts to work with that, if examined without any of the important context, can be spun to the willfully credulous as evidence that these men have committed similar crimes.” [New York Magazine, 1/14/23]
New York Times: How Biden’s Discovery Of Classified Files Compares With The Trump Case. “There are key gaps in the public record about both, but the available information suggests there were significant differences in how the documents came to light, their volume and — most important — how Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden responded. Mr. Trump and his aides resisted the government’s repeated efforts to retrieve them all. Mr. Biden’s lawyers reported the problem, and the White House says it has fully cooperated. These apparent differences have significant legal implications… How did the problems come to light? Very differently. In the case of Mr. Trump, the National Archives realized in the spring of 2021 that historically prominent files were missing and asked Mr. Trump to return them. The agency eventually retrieved 15 boxes and found that they included documents with classification markings. The Justice Department retrieved additional records after issuing a subpoena… In the case of Mr. Biden, the White House has said that his lawyers discovered the files on Nov. 2 when they were packing up to vacate the office at the Penn Biden Center. ‘The documents were not the subject of any previous request or inquiry by the archives,’” it said. [New York Times, 1/12/23]
CNN (Opinion): I Worked On Document Handling Issues In Government. Here’s Why Biden’s And Trump’s Cases Are Different. “All that presents the biggest single difference from the Trump case. With Biden there was no pattern of obstruction that we know of at the moment — there is no evidence of that at all… There are other differences as well that suggest — although it is still early — the striking contrast between these matters. Certainly the sheer volume of classified documents is much less, with over 300 total on Trump’s side versus what appears to be a small fraction of that on Biden’s. Also, unlike the Trump case, there’s been no search warrant, and therefore no finding of probable cause that crimes were committed. Nor is there any indication, yet, at least, that the Biden documents pose the same level of risk as the Trump ones, with no reporting, for instance, that the documents contain nuclear secrets. The bottom line is that so far this appears to be a very different case, and the discovery of the second small tranche of documents and the appointment of the special counsel doesn’t change that. If these preliminary indications bear out, it appears unlikely Biden will face charges at the end of Hur’s investigation (whenever that may be).” [CNN (Opinion), 1/15/23]
Bloomberg: Trump and Biden Special Counsels Share a Mission — Not Much Else. “The two special counsels appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland have basically the same assignment: Exploring whether anyone — including a current or former president — criminally mishandled sensitive government information. But Special Counsels Jack Smith and Robert Hur find themselves operating in vastly different investigative environments. Garland’s decision to bring on Smith and Hur is designed to address head-on the extraordinary circumstances and conflicts — real or perceived — at play. One investigation centers on President Joe Biden, the current officeholder who appointed Garland and holds the power to fire him. The other involves former President Donald Trump, a powerful political foe of the Biden administration. Both men are, as of now, likely repeat presidential candidates in 2024 and Garland cited the ‘public interest’ in putting independent decision makers in charge. But these probes sharply diverge in terms of what’s known about the conduct at issue as well as key practical logistics. Biden and top White House aides have pledged to cooperate. Trump has blasted the records probe as a political ‘witch hunt.’ Before Smith came in, prosecutors spent months fighting in court with Trump’s lawyers over their ability to use materials they’d seized from his Mar-a-Lago estate over the summer.” [Bloomberg Law, 1/13/23]
Washington Post: The Trump And Biden Classified-Document Revelations Are Not The Same. “But, just as the fundamental issue with the Trump documents is not whether they were classified, the situations with the two presidents are not obviously comparable in the way that Trump suggests. […] You can hopefully see how the Biden document disclosure differs in both scale and significance. Again, we don’t know all of the details of the Biden document production, so this assessment may change. But there’s no indication at this point either that the scale of information withheld from the government is as large or — more importantly — that Biden or his team endeavored to hide the documents from the Justice Department. There was no affidavit signed by Biden lawyers claiming that the closet at the Penn Biden Center no longer contained any classified documents before such documents were uncovered. There was no effort by Biden to argue publicly that he had given the government everything it wanted even though he hadn’t; in fact, there’s no indication the government was even looking for these documents in the first place. We are by now deep enough into the Trump era of national politics that we are familiar with his attempts to rebut criticism by claiming that his opponents are doing equivalently bad or worse things. This is the approach he’s taking here, and, as always, his allies are echoing and elevating it. It is not a good comparison.” [Washington Post, 1/10/23]
PBS: How The Trump, Biden Classified Documents Cases Compare. “BIDEN: Biden’s document disclosure could intensify skepticism among Republicans and others who are already claiming that politics is the basis for the probes of the former president. There are also possible ramifications in a new, GOP-controlled Congress where Republicans are promising to launch widespread investigations of Biden’s administration. Of the latest news, new House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, said, ‘I think Congress has to investigate this.’ Contradicting several fellow members of his party, he added, ‘We don’t think there needs to be a special prosecutor.’ The top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Ohio Rep. Mike Turner, has requested that intelligence agencies conduct a ‘damage assessment’ of potentially classified documents. TRUMP: In its immediate aftermath, Trump and his supporters seized on the Mar-a-Lago search as a partisan attack from Democrats who had long been desirous of removing him from office. During his 2024 campaign launch in November, at the same club agents had searched months earlier, Trump referenced the probes against him, casting himself as ‘a victim’ of wayward prosecutors and the ‘festering, rot and corruption of Washington.’” [PBS, 1/12/23]
Reuters: Explainer: Classified Documents: What Is The Difference Between The Biden And Trump Cases? “U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed two different special counsels to independently investigate the handling of classified records by Republican former President Donald Trump and his Democratic successor, President Joe Biden. Jack Smith, a war crimes prosecutor, is investigating whether Trump or his associates improperly retained classified records at his Florida estate after he left office in 2021 and then tried to obstruct a federal investigation. Garland tapped Trump-era former U.S. Attorney Robert Hur for Maryland to investigate the removal and retention of classified records from Biden’s time as vice president, and the discovery of them at his home and one-time office at a think tank. Neither Trump nor Biden should have had any classified material in their possession. During a presidential transition period, the records from each administration are supposed to be turned over to the legal custody of the U.S. National Archives. It is unlawful to knowingly or willfully remove or retain classified material. Failure to properly store and secure classified material poses risks to national security if it should fall into the wrong hands. Biden has said he was surprised to learn he had classified information in his possession. Trump has said on social media, without providing evidence, that he declassified the records, though his attorneys have declined to repeat that assertion in court filings. The materials in question date back to when Biden was President Barack Obama’s vice president from 2009 to 2017, and when Trump was president from 2017 to 2021.” [Reuters, 1/12/23]