Biden Documents Gift for Trump and Intensifies Attorney General Garland’s Nightmare

In News

On Monday, when Trump’s legal situation was already looking dire, the revelation about the several classified documents uncovered last fall whipped up an intense political tempest. In the meantime, the new Republican majority in the House is working quickly to derail investigations into him and is launching a slew of counter-probes of the sitting president.

Biden Classified Document
 U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland at the Department on Justice on November 30, 2022 in Washington, DC. [Pete Marovich/Getty Images]

The Biden Document discovery

A White House lawyer said on Monday that the president’s personal counsel discovered classified documents from Joe Biden’s time as vice president in November at a Washington think tank.

CBS News had previously reported that U.S. documents were found in Biden’s office at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.

The National Archives now have access to the classified documents that Attorney General Merrick Garland requested be reviewed by the U.S. attorney in Chicago.

Richard Sauber, the president’s special counsel, said in a statement on Monday that Biden’s private attorneys discovered the classified material on November 2, just days before the midterm elections.

In recognition of his office spent there from mid-2017 to the beginning of his 2020 presidential campaign, the Penn Biden Center bears his name. According to Sauber, the National Archives was contacted by the White House Counsel’s Office the day those documents were discovered, and they seized control of the material the following morning.

Before Biden’s personal lawyers confirmed the documents’ existence, the vice president was unaware they even existed, and he still doesn’t know what’s in them.

After their terms in federal office, official documents are obligated by law to return all government-issued documents and declassify any sensitive information they may have classified.

Unlike Trump, Biden did not try to claim ownership of the data, impede their handover, or make ridiculous assertions that he had already declassified them based on an undisclosed private thought.

Smith is looking into Trump for probable violations of the Espionage Act related to his storage of classified material and obstruction of justice.

The documents, according to Sauber, have never been the subject of a request or investigation by the National Archives.

Biden’s lawyers “were packing files in a locked closet to prepare to evacuate office space at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C.,” Sauber added, explaining how the documents were discovered. He also mentioned that the Justice Department and National Archives were receiving help from the White House.

From 2009 till Obama’s former presidency ended in 2017, Biden served as Obama’s vice president.

There was no mention of the number of classified documents, their contents, or their classification level in Sauber’s statement. Per a CBS News report, they do not include any sensitive nuclear information.

Leading Democrat on the House Oversight Committee representative Jamie Raskin said in a statement that Biden’s lawyers “appear to have taken swift and necessary action” after discovering the documents.

To this end, Raskin expressed faith in Garland’s ability to “make an objective determination regarding any further action that may be warranted.”

After leaving office in January 2021, former President Donald Trump kept several highly classified documents at his Florida estate, which has prompted a separate investigation by the Justice Department.

On August 8, FBI investigators searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home with a warrant from a federal judge. Among the thousands of documents that were confiscated, about 100 were categorized as classified.

“When are FBI agents going to begin searching Joe Biden’s multiple residences, including the White House? These papers were most certainly not released to the public, “Trump wrote late on Monday night on his Truth Social app.

Biden Classified Document
Counsel Richard Sauber

Questions at hand

In the interest of justice and compliance with the law, Biden should answer many of the same questions that Trump is being asked, including whether or not he was legally entitled to the records, why they were not previously turned over, whether or not they were securely stored, and how they ended up in his office.

stop talking

When considering the extreme sensitivity of the Justice Department’s investigation against Trump on a similar subject, critics will also wonder why Biden didn’t immediately make public the discovery of less than a dozen documents last autumn.

Given his harsh criticism that Trump did not take the required procedures to secure classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, the president is sure to face accusations of hypocrisy.

However, even if these issues are answered satisfactorily, the political storm already brewing, combined with the conservative media’s propensity to falsely correlate the Biden and Trump documents, will wash out any differences in severity.

The report seeks Trump with an instant opening as he attempts to avoid responsibility for his behavior and claims he is a victim of persecution to derail his 2024 campaign.

The former president is a master at using a single event to drive a whole campaign message, as he did with former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s emails in 2016.

With this report in hand, the new Republican majority in the House will have even more material to launch a multi-pronged investigation offensive against the White House. The report, first reported by CBS, about Biden will unavoidably increase political pressure on Special Counsel Jack Smith’s probe into Trump’s preservation of classified material, even if there appear to be apparent disparities in the size of the cases.

As part of the federal grand jury investigation into Trump’s fundraising and other issues pertaining to the 2020 election, Smith has now subpoenaed Trump’s former lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Biden Classified Document
A video of former President Donald Trump is played during a hearing by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol in the Cannon House Office Building on October 13, 2022 in Washington, DC. [Alex Wong/Getty Images]

Garland’s Conundrum

The political consequences of charging Trump, as both an ex-president and a potential candidate in 2024, are enormous, and the record of the Biden documents will add to the political burden that Garland is currently under.

Garland seeks to underscore the Justice Department’s independence, which was constantly questioned while Trump was president, by insisting that investigations will go wherever the evidence and the law demand.

A decision to charge Trump in the case of the classified documents but not vice president Biden would spark political outrage among conservatives, who would accuse the action of double standards. This is true regardless of how the Biden documents problem is ultimately addressed.

The former president’s legal team provided a moderate reaction in response to the Biden report, which sought to expand potential avenues of protection for their client. According to one attorney, the Biden incident is “symptomatic of a more systemic issue” in the administration’s handling of classified information in the Oval Office and the Vice President’s office.

Overclassification is a problem; when an administration ends, everything gets packed up and transported, making it difficult to maintain track.

The lawyer also stated that Trump’s legal team would request all relevant correspondence between the National Archives and Biden’s team in case of an indictment.

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