Biden Under Fire for Found Classified Documents
Last summer, the Department of Justice, by way of the FBI, raided former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-lago Florida estate, executing a search warrant for classified and unclassified documents belonging to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). According to the Washington Post, the FBI seized “103 government documents with classified markings, more than 11,100 government documents/photographs without classification markings, 48 empty folders with ‘CLASSIFIED’ banners,” and more. A few weeks later, President Biden spoke on the matter, calling Trump’s mishandling of documents “totally irresponsible.”
On Jan. 12, according to CNBC, classified documents from Biden's vice presidency were found inside a garage in Bidens’ Wilmington, Delaware estate. According to Biden’s lawyers, the administration immediately contacted both the NARA and the DOJ to report the findings and began to search Biden’s residences to uncover any more documents. All of this occurred after ten classified documents were discovered last November in Biden's D.C. office.
The searches of Biden’s residences have found close to a dozen classified documents, all of which have been turned over, but call to question of whether this will lead to criminal charges connected to the Biden or anyone working in his administration. When reporters learned that Biden kept classified documents in a garage next to his Corvette, they pushed on the scandal. Peter Doocy, Fox News’ White House correspondent pressed the president, “Classified document next to your Corvette? What were you thinking?” Biden’s response: “...my Corvette’s in a locked garage, so it’s not like they're sitting out in the street, okay?”
Ultimately, Attorney General Merrick Garland will decide whether criminal charges will be put upon Biden and Trump. While the intentions and handlings of the situations differ, they do not affect the legal statute on the misconduct committed by both parties, and as such, both presidents would face the same charges if pressed.
The House GOP is beginning to go on the offensive after months defending Trump, calling Biden hypocritical for the scandal. According to NBC News, on Jan. 13, House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) requested the DOJ give complete transparency on the documents found at Biden’s estates. On Jan. 30, the DOJ denied the House Committee’s request for non-public information of the classified documents. As of Feb. 2, there have not been any public announcements as to what exactly the documents contained.
More searches have been prompted by the White House rather than the DOJ, with at least six more classified items found within residences and office spaces Biden has used. These new documents, according to the President’s personal attorney, appear to be related to his position as Vice President and tenure as a member of the Senate, the latter of which means that Biden has held on to documents dated 2009 or earlier, notable because Biden had served as a Senator for the state of Delaware since 1973.
House Democrats seem to have been caught between a rock and a hard place on the matter. Some defended Biden, comparing his handling of the return of documents to Trump's mishandling of his, while others did not comment. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Biden's stature is diminished for his inappropriate possession of items with “top secret” markings. Other Democrats stood fast with the president.
Kyle Herrig, Executive Director of the Congressional Integrity Project, wrote "comparing Biden's cooperation to Trump's obstruction is like comparing apples and arsenic," with many other Democrats sharing the same sentiment, holding Biden’s cooperation as the primary vehicle to his defense, especially as the GOP is organizing and unleashing a wide net of oversight investigations on the current administration.