Funny how the Republicans who lashed out against the Mar-a-Lago raid of former President Donald Trump’s stored documents were having a field day bashing President Joe Biden for removing documents. Equally ironic is how Democrats calling for Trump to be imprisoned for storing these documents were later claiming that Biden’s compiling of classified docs was a nothing burger. So, which one was worse?
The answer is: We just don’t know because it all depends on what was in those boxes.
Let’s start with the understanding that there are different levels of classified materials. Some are genuinely top-secret, which would compromise national security. Others, however, are quite innocuous. A good example was the FBI’s designation of a boring video of senior citizens just wandering around the Capitol’s rotunda on January 6 as being classified. There were obviously no national secrets divulged in the video that needed to be kept under wraps, yet it was designated as classified nonetheless.
So what did Trump and Biden take? Were they mere mementos? Were they copies of legislation or correspondence that they could use for books down the road? Or were they nuclear codes, as some unconvincingly tried to suggest with the Trump boxes? Perhaps they included information about the money flow from China to Hunter Biden to Joe himself. The point is, we don’t know.
It’s likely that every president in the past has taken stuff with him when he left office and it’s also very possible that some of that may have been classified. But it was only when Trump took stuff that the “Trump deranged media” made it into an existential threat to the nation.
If it wasn’t the documents themselves that threatened our democracy, they claimed, it was Trump‘s stonewalling that did. As usual, Trump’s own arrogance contributed to his problems. He definitely was forcing the DOJ to frustratingly seek the court’s intervention to get all they desired. But their raid came about before the judicial process was exhausted. One could say it was an unprecedented partisan leap by Attorney General Merrick Garland to do so.
“Put him in jail,” they said. Interesting how that turned around when Joe Biden — who claims such action on Trump’s part was irresponsible — did the same himself. In normal times folks would say, “OK, Biden possibly went too far taking these boxes, but give them back and that’s that.” But that’s hard to do after Biden‘s team has been trying to imprison Trump for taking classified docs and stringing out their return — even though it looks like Biden operatives self-reported the violation, where Trump did not (though Biden’s team has come under criticism for delaying the disclosure until after the election).
The Justice Department ordered an early morning raid of Trump’s residence, but with Biden, even after they knew he had classified information at his personal locations, they allowed Biden’s own staff, none of whom had security clearance, to do the vetting as to what should be handed over and what should not, without any kind of accompaniment by DOJ security officials. The double standard is palpable.
Sounds eerily familiar to how James Comey‘s FBI allowed Hillary Clinton and her lawyers to determine what should be handed over from the stash of emails that she compiled on an unsecured server.
It’s no crazy, tin-hat conspiracy theory to point out the difference in treatment for one party as opposed to the other.