The discovery of multiple sets of classified documents at President Biden’s old offices reveals how ridiculous the accusations were against President Trump last year and how unnecessary the unprecedented FBI raid on his Mar-a-Lago residence, but rather than enjoy the show even some so-called conservatives can’t resist taking unnecessary shots at the former President.
Politics is rarely short of irony, and little could be more ironic than the discovery that President Joe Biden is “guilty” of the same crime that prompted an unprecedented raid on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence last summer, the possession of classified documents. On Monday evening, it was revealed that somewhere around ten of these documents were discovered at a think tank, the Penn-Biden Center in DC where President Biden kept an office after leaving the Vice Presidency in 2017. The discovery was actually made on November 2 last year when personal attorneys for the President “were packing files housed in a locked closet to prepare to vacate office space,” according to Richard Sauber, special counsel to the President. As CBS News reported, “The documents were contained in a folder that was in a box with other unclassified papers, the sources said. The sources revealed neither what the classified documents contain nor their level of classification.” Of course, CBS News, being part of the media’s non-stop propaganda machine, couldn’t resist sneaking in an obvious dig at a false story that maligned former President Trump, “A source familiar told CBS News the documents did not contain nuclear secrets.” The documents do, however, appear to have the highest level of classification, at least according to CNN. “The classified materials included some top-secret files with the ‘sensitive compartmented information’ designation, also known as SCI, which is used for highly sensitive information obtained from intelligence sources.” The documents apparently pertain to Iran, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom plus some materials that should have been returned to the National Archives for record keeping purposes. Does that sound familiar? Regardless, the discovery has prompted Attorney General Merrick Garland to request a US Attorney review the matter. John Lausch from the Northern District of Illinois will attempt to determine how the materials ended up in this closet in the first place and determine whether a true investigation is required. “The review is considered a preliminary step, and the attorney general will determine whether further investigation is necessary, including potentially appointing a special counsel,” once again according to ABC News. The FBI is apparently involved as well.
Let me begin by saying that this should not be surprising. Everyone knows that the government routinely over classifies information and has no system in place to track the location of these documents in real time like a fleet of Teslas. The idea that President Trump was unique in this regard was always an underlying fallacy to the whole charade. This happens all the time, and everyone knows it. As former President Barack Obama once said, “There’s classified, and then there’s classified…There’s stuff that is really top secret, top secret—and there’s stuff that … you might not want out on the transom … but is basically stuff that you could get in open source.” Therefore, no one should be remotely surprised that senior government officials have some of this information in their possession, accidentally or even otherwise, while they are in office or after. This reality was necessarily lost on Democrat politicians and the mainstream media when it came to Donald Trump. Suddenly, the assumption was made that no classified information had ever left the White House before and that all classified information was extremely sensitive nuclear secrets, ready to be sold on the black market out of the latest James Bond movie. This idea was augmented by another ridiculous assertion that the National Archives audits every single document for every single President and that no other President has ever had material in their position that technically belongs in the Archives. We have no way of knowing if this is true because no President has ever been treated like Trump. The reality, of course, is that Presidents and Vice Presidents have a lot of records, reams and reams of them, packaged by underlings on a short time frame between changes of the administration. It is only natural to assume that mistakes might be made and that, given the dozens of presidential transitions that have happened over the decades, those mistakes are not likely to have a major impact on national security or our records. It was only when Donald Trump is involved that the political and legal standard radically shifts, and even though he was cooperating with the National Archives, having duly returned 15 boxes of materials at their request, allowed them to visit his residence and secured additional materials under their direction, an unprecedented FBI raid is warranted.
Now, however, confronted with a similar situation where sensitive documents were unsecured, left in the wild as it were for over five years, the media has no wild tales to tell about the sale of nuclear secrets. Instead, they immediately shift into damage control mode. CNN even went so far as to offer readers the helpful chart below complete with Donald Trump’s alleged transgressions in red so you can visually understand that his crime, despite that none of have been charged months later, must be far worse. Their resident propagandist, Stephen Collinson, also dutifully assures us that the two stories are different. As he sees it, there are “clear distinctions between the two cases.” These include the scale, 10 documents compared to over 100. The false idea that the former President Trump didn’t cooperate with the National Archives, though he was clearly doing so right up until they colluded with the Biden Administration to raid his home. In this regard, Mr. Collinson quotes Bradley Moss, a security clearances expert, who told “CNN This Morning” that President Biden’s conduct was different because of “the cooperation and the absence of obstruction in which they have engaged compared to what Donald Trump did.” Of course, he completely fails to mention that the “obstruction” charge hasn’t even been officially filed, much less proven in a court of law, but why let facts and evidence get in the way of the more pressing need to provide cover for Joe Biden? Thus, any differences in the two stories are transmuted into more evidence that President Trump is guilty and likely cannot be proven innocent under any circumstances, whereas President Biden is innocent come what may. “So far, it’s completely apples to oranges here,” declared Moss.
I will say that he is right in one respect: President Biden would have been Vice President when he or his staff removed these documents and Vice Presidents do not have any powers over classified documents. As honest observers noted last year, the situation with President Trump was always unique because the President is solely responsible for the classification process, and has near unlimited power to classify and declassify at will. The exercise of this power does not even require written authorization or explicit instructions of any kind. If the President orders you to take a document from the White House and post it on Twitter, it is assumed to be unclassified based on the direction alone. We know this because the exact scenario occurred under President George W. Bush when he instructed Scooter Libby, the Vice President’s Chief of Staff to share information regarding Iraq’s purported Weapons of Mass Destruction Program with select media outlets. At the time, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald was charged with determining what crimes Mr. Libby might have committed. He was never charged with espionage or mishandling classified information because he was acting on orders from the President. “The Libby case might have been the first time in memory that the question of unilateral presidential declassifications arose,” explained Steven Aftergood, a leading authority on classified information policy, to Politico. “It was giving one-time permission to a particular individual to disclose information to another particular individual … It highlights the fact that the president purports to, or does, stand outside of the classification system.” Given President Trump has always insisted that he declassified the documents in question and no written order is required to do so, the burden has always been on the potential prosecution to demonstrate how that could possibly be the case beyond a reasonable doubt. This is the issue that should have been clarified long before the raid or any mention of espionage or obstruction.
A Vice President, however, enjoys no such power or authority. Biden is President now, but not when these materials were removed. Back then, he was subject to the classification system as it applies to the rest of the government, making it far more troubling on its face that he would retain these documents and perhaps others for years. This is the most legally salient difference between the two situations; claims about the quantity and potential obstruction are red herrings designed to obscure the reality that Biden might have actually committed a crime while Trump has a far more plausible case that he was acting within his rights as President. To be sure, Mr. Collinson does have the decency to admit that President Biden has some explaining to do, especially as he hid this troubling discovery for over two months. “Fairness and respect for the law dictate that Biden should answer many of the same questions that Trump is facing, regarding whether he was entitled to the records, why they were not previously turned over, whether they were securely stored and how they ended up in his office in the first place.” Note that he fails to mention fairness dictates raids on President Biden’s other properties to ensure all classified materials have been secured. On the contrary, Mr. Collinson appears to implicitly presume that we will take the President’s word on the matter and leave it at that. Why not throw wide an investigation into everything as they have done with President Trump, where the latest news is that a Special Counsel is closely examining his 2020 fundraising, as in moving far beyond the purview of the documents and the riot on January 6? He does add that Attorney General Garland is in a difficult position, claiming the “Biden document disclosures will also deepen the already intense political headache facing Garland as he contemplates an eventual decision on whether to charge Trump, whose status as an ex-president and an active 2024 candidate carries huge political implications.” This is true, but ultimately it is hard to conclude that this is anything other than a mess of his own making. There were other legal avenues between President Trump and the National Archives that could have been pursued to resolve the matter without resorting to an unprecedented raid. There were plenty of less intrusive precedents such as the situation with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton where investigations into the mishandling of classified materials, in her case thousands on an unsecured email server, were conducted without the need for gestapo tactics. Instead, Attorney General Garland himself chose to unleash the full power of the FBI on a former President who remains popular within the Republican Party and completely failed to explain himself, all the while his own department leaked a steady stream of falsehoods to feed an out of control media narrative.
Much as I would like to see some sanity return to our politics and the operation of our government, both Attorney General Garland and President Biden deserve exactly what is coming to them as a result of these new revelations. There is an old adage about glass houses and throwing stones that the President couldn’t bother to remember last year when he attacked his predecessor on the issue. “How that could possibly happen? How one – anyone could be that irresponsible?” he said. “And I thought what data was in there that may compromise sources and methods? By that I mean names of people who helped or, et cetera. … totally irresponsible.” Perhaps needless to say, now that the shoe is on the other foot as it were, most Republicans seem rather happy to exploit the situation for political gain, as they certainly should be. “Oh, really? They just now found them after all these years,” newly minted Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy told CNN. “What has he said about the other president having classified documents?” The Former President himself said on Truth Social, “When is the FBI going to raid the many homes of Joe Biden, perhaps even the White House? These documents were definitely not declassified.” New House Oversight Chairman James Comer noted, “This is (a) further concern that there is a two-tiered justice system.” Equally needless to say, there remain those Republicans who’s dislike for the former President outweighs their sanity, causing them to find some way to spin this story into shots at Trump. TownHall.com’s Guy Benson is sure to note “the facts in Trump’s case are relatively ‘worse,’ but that has no bearing on potential misconduct or illegal conduct from Biden.” What does this even mean at this point? How does he know that? He seems to believe “Trump had far more documents, improperly keeping some even after a protracted battle with the National Archives, which came knocking after noticing missing items,” but again no actual charges have been filed. We have no idea what is in those documents or who has a legitimate right to them, but sure let’s declare Trump is worse despite the current President’s obvious and shameful hypocrisy. A hypocrisy which extended to claiming he can’t even comment on the issue for legal reasons, except to say he knows nothing. Likewise, HotAir.com’s John Sexton blithely declared, “I defended Trump when the raid first occurred but ultimately he had no legitimate reason to hang on to those materials that I can see.” Huh? How can he possibly “see” anything not knowing what the documents are or why Trump thought he could keep them?
I must’ve written this a hundred times by now, but with friends like these, who needs enemies? Meanwhile, right minded conservatives everywhere should just take a moment to sit back and enjoy the story: Whatever the legal ramifications, and I am willing to bet there are none, the President has been exposed once again as a ridiculous hypocrite, guilty of precisely the same things he blames others for. This is the real story and sadly, it is not the least bit surprising. Nor is the revelation that hit the news shortly after I finished this post. “Aides to President Joe Biden have discovered at least one additional batch of classified documents in a location separate from the Washington office he used after leaving the Obama administration, according to a person familiar with the matter,” or at least so says NBC News. This prompted even Mr. Collinson to declare President Biden is in the midst of a major political crisis. Incredibly, he now sees it this way, “President Joe Biden’s embarrassment over classified documents found in his former offices is spiraling into a major political crisis that threatens to undermine the case for Donald Trump to be charged for his own hoarding of secret material.” This is the irony of politics in action, enjoy it while you can.