BY: CONOR J. KELLY
This morning, the FBI searched President Biden’s home in Delaware, prompting a firestorm of media coverage and new attention on the ongoing investigation into the President’s handling of classified material. The search, though consensual and not requiring a warrant, has inevitably created comparisons between how the Justice Department responded to Biden and Trump. Those comparisons are beyond weak and are downright deceptive.
COMPLAIN AND LIE
Already Republicans are falsely claiming equivalence between the search of Mar-A-Lago and the investigation into Biden. House Chair James Comer (R-Kentucky) complained on Fox News that the National Archives and the General Counsel held “a double standard…” for how Trump was treated and how Biden was treated.
Others, however, have attempted to sell the idea of the investigation being far more significant than it actually is, Texas Congressman Ronny Jackson seemingly arguing that Biden had a significant amount of classified material and that perhaps his son, Hunter, had access to those documents.
It is far from surprising that Republicans have capitalized on the investigation into the President’s handling of classified material. It would be political incompetence if they didn’t, as the investigation into Biden serves as a perfect distraction from the still on-going inquiry into Trump and his possession of classified materials.
Such a distraction is perfect for Republicans, as they hope the American public forgets that some of the stolen materials at Mar-A-Lago contained nuclear secrets, as I noted last year. With the new search of Biden’s home, Republicans will wail about the supposed injustice of Trump’s treatment while actively disregarding the actions which put Trump into the position to be raided in the first place. They will rehash all their conspiracy theories and pretend that Hunter Biden’s laptop is somehow connected to the mishandled documents in Delaware, all while attempting to establish a supposed equivalence that doesn’t exist.
ADDRESSING THE INVESTIGATIONS
While it may be tempting for some of my readers to assume that this defense is meant as a partisan argument, it must be stated that under no circumstances am I attempting to argue that Biden had a right to hold these documents and Trump didn’t. In both cases, classified material was handled improperly. That said, how the documents were found and how two public figures interacted with them couldn’t be more distinct.
Right off the bat, the scope of the documents retrieved is beyond comparison. When the Justice Department searched Mar-A-Lago last year, over 300 documents with classified markings were recovered. The documents retrieved in the Biden investigation doesn’t come close to that number.
Even if the volume of documents retrieved were equivalent, the response by the two men would still justify the difference in treatment by the DOJ. When Biden and his lawyers found out about the documents, they contacted the National Archives and began cooperating with the investigators, actively allowing the DOJ to access multiple locations without resistance. This is why today’s search of Biden’s home didn’t require a warrant.
Trump provided no such cooperation and had been subpoenaed for the documents as far back as May of 2022. Additional reporting by the DOJ showed that some of the documents were moved from a storage area at Mar-A-Lago, seemingly to obstruct the subpoena. As a result of this alleged obstruction, the Justice Department was forced to get a search warrant and seize documents from Trump’s home.
The department is also investigating three potential criminal acts, including an alleged violation of the Espionage Act of 1917. Far from a mere search, the investigation into Trump was a response to the severe disregard by Trump and his team for national security and the federal government’s property. It is an investigation into the theft of government property and secrets by a former president.
This isn’t to say that Biden is off the hook. Holding onto classified material, even unintentionally, is a serious issue and merits a thorough investigation. Worse still is the revelation that former Vice-President Mike Pence also had classified documents at his home. He is also cooperating with investigators.
If anything, the holding of these documents by Biden and Pence demonstrates the inadequacy of the federal government’s policies relating to sensitive materials, but it is far from comparable to the criminal investigation into Trump and those who helped him. Biden may have been negligent, but Trump could be downright criminal.