According to the report released last week by Special Counsel Robert Hur, Joe Biden has a long history of mishandling classified material.
Witnesses told Hur during the course of his year-long investigation that as vice president, Biden routinely took classified files and did not return them as required. “Mr. Biden was known to remove and keep classified material from his briefing books for future use, and his staff struggled – and sometimes failed – to retrieve these materials,” Hur disclosed in the special counsel’s damning 388-page report.
Even the nation’s most guarded secrets were unsafe in Biden’s hands. “[In] August 2010… Mr. Biden failed to return Top Secret, Sensitive Compartmented Information (also referred to as ‘codeword’) contents of a classified briefing book that he had received during a trip to the Hamptons.” His reckless management of classified papers so alarmed White House officials that they scheduled a briefing with Biden that same month to review the necessary protocol.
Despite the briefing, Biden’s carelessness continued throughout his term. He would “frequently…leave classified documents unattended, outside of safes, at the Naval Observatory and his Delaware home,” former aides told investigators.
New details from Hur’s investigation, which involved interviews with 147 witnesses and Biden himself, indicate Biden’s bad habits didn’t stop after his vice presidency ended.
“Our investigation uncovered evidence that President Biden willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen. These materials included (1) marked classified documents about military and foreign policy in Afghanistan, and (2) notebooks containing Mr. Biden’s handwritten entries about issues of national security and foreign policy implicating sensitive intelligence sources and methods.”
Hur then explained why he would not indict Biden aside from settled law that prohibits the prosecution of a sitting president: Biden, Hur concluded, lacks the mental acuity to face trial. Among other lapses, Biden “did not remember when he was vice president” and “did not remember, even within several years, when his son Beau died.”
Biden is lucky to be protected from prosecution by the presidency and an apparent case of dementia. Donald Trump on the other hand is not so lucky. And despite Hur’s clumsy attempt to draw what he described in the report as “several material distinctions between Mr. Trump’s case and Mr. Biden’s” in an effort to downplay Biden’s criminality, a review of both cases clearly shows how Biden’s case is far more egregious and worthy of prosecution than Trump’s.
Two-Tiered System of Justice Again in Full Sight
In June 2023, Special Counsel Jack Smith indicted Trump for the alleged “willful retention” of national defense information and attempts to obstruct the investigation. Smith filed a superseding indictment the following month to add charges and two co-defendants, Waltine Nauta and Carlos De Oliviera, who are aides to the former president.
If not protected by his current office—and by a DOJ that shields Democrats while targeting Republicans—Biden would be facing as many if not more charges than Trump. For starters, the amount of highly classified files recovered at locations housing Biden’s papers exceeded the number of classified records for which Trump is charged.
As I noted on X/Twitter after the report was released:
Trump charged with willfully retaining 21 documents with "TOP SECRET" markings.
Biden, according to a chart at the end of Hur's report, retained 18 files with "TOP SECRET" markings.
Trump charged with willfully retaining 9 files with "SECRET" markings.
Biden had 36 papers with…
— Julie Kelly 🇺🇸 (@julie_kelly2) February 8, 2024
Some of the files related to the war in Afghanistan, a subject of great interest to Biden. Other records dealt with national security matters including the Iran nuclear deal, the conflict in Iraq, engagement with China, and unrest in Ukraine. “The practice of retaining classified material in unsecured locations poses serious risks to national security, given the vulnerability of extraordinarily sensitive information to loss or compromise to America’s adversaries,” Hur wrote.
Further, Biden’s classified records were kept out in the open and strewn throughout his residence for years, not kept together in a storage room at a property protected by Secret Service, security cameras, and private guards. “FBI agents recovered materials from the garage, offices, and basement den in Mr. Biden’s Wilmington, Delaware home,” Hur disclosed. Classified papers were tucked into several notebooks that Biden used to keep notes during high level discussions at the White House.
Photos included in the report showed where the files were haphazardly stored:
More classified papers were discovered at the Penn Biden Center in Washington and the University of Delaware, which archives Biden’s Senate records.
Proof of Destruction of Evidence
Hur said the tapes had “significant evidentiary value” and contained a recording that established Biden’s knowledge about the existence of classified files in his possession. During a February 2017 interview, Biden told Zwonitzer that he “just found all the classified stuff downstairs.”
Nonetheless, Hur concluded that “the evidence [against Zwonitzer] would be insufficient to obtain a conviction.”
There are additional examples of how Biden’s case is more egregious than Trump’s. Despite the special counsel’s inaccurate observation that Trump did not cooperate with authorities, the opposite is true. The National Archives and Records Administration started hounding Trump in May 2021 for “missing presidential records.” Trump’s aides and NARA officials were in constant contact throughout 2021 as they attempted to fulfill the archives’ demands; Trump voluntarily produced 15 boxes of files to NARA in January 2022.
NARA’s inspector general alerted the DOJ – the official story goes – right away that papers with “classified markings” had been discovered in the boxes. The FBI opened an investigation in March 2022 and issued a subpoena in May 2022 asking Trump and his lawyers to conduct a search for additional classified records; another 38 documents were turned over to the FBI.
In June 2022, Trump allowed FBI agents and the chief of DOJ’s counterintelligence bureau into Mar-a-Lago to conduct another search and check the premises for security failures. Trump delayed his relocation to New Jersey for the summer to meet with the DOJ officials, telling them he would help with “anything you need.”
Another grand jury subpoena followed, demanding six months of “surveillance records, videos, images, photographs and/or CCTV from internal cameras at certain locations at The Mar-a-Lago Club,” according to Smith’s indictment.
But that wasn’t enough. Despite extensive cooperation, Trump was subjected to an unannounced nine-hour raid of his personal property by armed FBI agents in August 2022. The FBI absconded with 13,000 items of evidence; DOJ officials later admitted only 102 files with “classified markings” were found.
Multiple Aides Handled and Transported Classified Files
At the same time Biden’s DOJ pursued Trump, Biden’s team was allowed to conduct their own search behind-the-scenes over a period of months without the prying eyes of FBI agents and NARA snitches. Contrary to public statements by Biden’s general counsel – who announced the discovery of classified files in November 2022, a few days before the general election – the special counsel confirmed what House Republicans disclosed last year; Biden’s aides began scouring the Penn Biden Center for classified papers beginning in May 2022 – on the same day the DOJ issued the subpoena for more classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.
House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) sent a letter to Biden’s White House counsel in October 2023 to ask “why President Biden used significant federal resources, including five White House employees and a Department of Defense employee, to access and secure what were purportedly personal items of President Biden at Penn Biden Center.”
Comer and Hur both confirmed the involvement of several individuals, some with unknown security clearances, in locating, handling, and moving boxes containing classified documents. Were they attempting to get ahead of a potential investigation?
The FBI waited several weeks after the November 2022 announcement to visit the Biden residence in Delaware to conduct its own search. Unlike the expansive raid of Mar-a-Lago, however, the bureau came unprepared. “The FBI dispatched two agents to retrieve the boxes in the garage the following day,” Hur wrote of the FBI’s visit to Delaware on December 21, 2022. “[The] agents conducted a limited search of the garage intended to determine whether it contained other classified documents. The two agents lacked sufficient resources to conduct a comprehensive search of the entire garage given the volume of material stored there.”
Authorities waited for Biden’s consent – he apparently did not want to turn over his notebooks – to search his home; agents were sent to Delaware on January 20, 2023. One item retrieved by the FBI, according to Hur, was Biden’s 2009 “handwritten memo [to President Obama detailing his opposition to the troop surge in Afghanistan] that contains information that remains classified up to the Secret level.”
But Biden and his associates will be spared prosecution. The same media echo chamber that raged for months about Trump’s threat to national security instead is condemning Hur for his “gratuitous” remarks about Biden’s faulty mental faculties.
In the meantime, Trump and his co-defendants are preparing for a tentative May 20 trial date in Florida, embroiled in costly and time-consuming legal battles with the DOJ.
Another example of the two-tiered standard of justice in Joe Biden’s America.
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