February 03, 2023

Comparisons

June Bower

Americans have heard a lot about classified documents lately. Last summer we learned there were hundreds of government documents found at the Mar-a-Lago home of former President Trump. Now we’ve learned there were a couple dozen government documents found at President Biden’s former office in D.C. and his home in Delaware.

Trump’s possession of documents, many with “top secret” classification, is under investigation by the Department of Justice. A special counsel, Jack Smith, has been appointed by Attorney General Garland and his task is to investigate the documents, and in addition, Trump’s involvement in the January 6 insurrection.

Robert Hur has now been appointed special counsel to look into Biden’s possession of documents. Hur, a former Trump administration appointee, will determine how classified documents were included in boxes of papers moved from Biden’s vice-presidential and Senate offices. This independent investigation is being conducted with Biden’s full cooperation and without any interference from the White House.

I’m relieved Garland has appointed special counsels for both cases - independent of political consideration. The American people deserve to understand what happened in both cases.

When the first few documents were discovered in Biden’s former office, National Archives was immediately informed and the documents were turned over to them. A few more documents were discovered subsequently at his home. Then, the White House requested an FBI search of his entire house. No subpoena was required. In a 13-hour search, six more documents were found, some going as far back to when Biden served in the Senate.

Compare that conduct with the actions taken by Trump after the National Archives realized many important classified documents had never been forwarded to them by his departing administration. When Archives requested return of the documents, they were ignored for 18 months. Finally, DOJ stepped in to help retrieve the documents, but their requests were rejected by Trump. With a subpoena, some documents were then handed over, along with an affidavit signed by his attorney declaring their search was complete.

In fact, there were many more documents still missing. Fed up with non-stop stonewalling, the FBI obtained a warrant to search Mar a Lago. They found hundreds more documents, many classified and marked “top secret.”

Trump says he has a right to take classified documents and has never apologized. Some of his favorite documents were actually found in the drawer of his office desk. He has even tried to justify keeping the documents at Mar-a-Lago by claiming he declassified all of them.

We now have two presidents possessing classified documents. We have a special counsel investigating each one. President Biden appears to have had no personal knowledge of the discovered documents; Trump appears to have had a lot of personal knowledge about the documents at Mar-a-Lago. Biden facilitated a search of his home; Trump obstructed a search of his. Biden officials immediately cooperated at the discovery of the first set of documents; Trump officials have been so uncooperative, there may be charges of obstruction.

Regardless of what is determined legally, both Trump and Biden are impacted politically. Trump’s actions are yet another example of his penchant for breaking the rules. Biden’s response is an example of his naive response to political danger. He has little to fear legally, but he should not ignore his opponents’ desire for revenge.

Trump supporters are still angry at the FBI for searching Mar-a-Lago, but they ignored Trump’s confiscation of hundreds of documents and refusal to turn them over. Now, of course, they’re over reacting about the documents mixed in with Biden’s papers. Maria Bartiromo of the Fox Business Network even suggested he should be tried for treason.

In their feverish desire to investigate Biden’s documents problem, they evidently forget that criticizing Biden draws attention to Trump’s more massive documents problem.

Some in the media, so intent on appearing impartial, are again acting like the actions of the two presidents are comparable. It reminds me of their hysterical coverage of Hillary’s famous, mostly inconsequential emails. Apparently, some of them still haven’t learned to make fair comparisons.

Analysts are predicting investigators of Biden will conclude classified documents were taken inadvertently, and not intentionally. Predictions are Trump will be indicted for obstruction, concluding he intended to take the classified documents and foolishly refused to give them back.