Is the case of classified documents found in Joe Biden’s house comparable to that of Donald Trump?
Following the announcement of the discovery of classified documents at an institution founded by Joe Biden and later at his home, some Republicans were quick to draw parallels to the alleged facts against Donald Trump, who kept boxes full at his residence. in Florida, and angry at the differential treatment on the part of the police, whom they accuse of double standards. What are the differences and similarities between what we know of the two cases?
Some Similarities Observed
There are few similarities between the two cases, but in both cases they were classified documents that, under the 1978 Presidential Records Act, were supposed to be turned over to the National Records and Records Administration when Donald Trump and Joe Biden left the presidency and vice president. -the presidency of the United States, respectively, in January 2021 and 2017.
Therefore, in both cases, possession of these documents is illegal, regardless of their number, content and conditions of storage. But keeping and transferring confidential documents is generally considered sue- able only if it is a deliberate move, particularly if there is a desire to hide them.
Special prosecutors – special status for sensitive cases that guarantees greater independence vis-à-vis the Ministry of Justice – are investigating both cases. In Donald Trump’s case, it was Jack Smith, who was appointed in November 2022. In Joe Biden’s case, the investigation was entrusted Thursday to Robert Hur, the Maryland federal prosecutor appointed during Donald Trump’s mandate.
The difference between the two cases
If many, the main difference lies in the intention of the former president and his lawyers to hide and delete the documents from the national archives, whereas Joe Biden claims that his is “accidentally misplaced” and pointed out that it was his lawyer who reported them.
- How are they found?
Regarding Donald Trump, the archives service noticed, in the spring of 2021, the absence of certain documents and demanded their return, but his request remained a dead letter until January 2022. The former president I then handed over fifteen boxes and it turned out that they contained 184 classified documents. The files were sent to the Department of Justice, which demanded, by May 2022, the return of all documents of this kind, before ordering a search of Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump’s Florida residence.
His attorneys turned in another 38 and guaranteed no more, which turned out to be bogus. Evidence obtained by the FBI, including CCTV footage of the villa, led to a second search that resulted in federal agents obtaining an additional 13,000 documents, 103 of which were stamped. “Confidential”.
According to the White House, attorneys for Joe Biden found classified documents inside the cabinet at Penn Biden’s Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington on November 2, 2022, while they were vacating the office. They “has not been the subject of a prior request or investigation by the archive”, emphasized the presidency. Following this discovery, attorneys conducted a search of two of Joe Biden’s homes. Nothing was found at Rehoboth Beach, however “small amount” were in Wilmington, he said, assuring, without giving a date, that they had been reported “at a time”. While announcing the appointment of a special prosecutor assigned to the case, the attorney general said the president’s team reported finding most of the documents on December 20, 2022, and another on January 12.
- How did they get to Donald Trump and Joe Biden?
During his tenure, Donald Trump reportedly took files to presidential residences other than the White House. During the last days of this mandate, when he resisted his defeat, these files would be sent to Mar-a-Lago with clothing and souvenirs, according to the report. New York Time.
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As for those found on Joe Biden and his foundation, it’s not clear how they got there, but the White House says they may have been moved. “at handover 2017”. On Tuesday, the president told himself “surprised” that government documents were taken to his home and to this office in Washington, which he started using in the second half of 2017.
- Are they still classified?
Donald Trump claims to have declassified everything at Mar-a-Lago, as he has the authority to do so until the end of his presidency, but there is no evidence of this and his attorneys have not brought this argument to court. perjury was punished. In addition, the suspicions cited in support of the search were unrelated to the fact that they were classified documents.
Joe Biden, who as vice president also has the authority to declassify documents, made no claim to do so for documents found at his home and at the Penn Biden Center. He assured Tuesday that he had no idea what it was.
- What are the possible legal consequences?
There are usually no prosecutions when records are kept by mistake or accident. The Justice Department has not provided any evidence to suggest that Joe Biden voluntarily kept the files or that he refused to return them. This is not the case with Donald Trump. Current White House tenants also benefit from presidential immunity.