Former President Donald Trump is facing an investigation into classified documents left at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, one that may very well lead to his indictment. Now, it turns out there is also a documents controversy involving President Joe Biden as well.
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But it’s not quite the same thing.
The Washington Post reported Monday that the Justice Department has “launched a review into the discovery of classified documents,” which date back to the Obama-Biden Administration and were located at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Engagement in Washington.
The Penn Biden Center is a think tank affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania but located in Washington, which Joe Biden sometimes used as an office in the time between when he left the vice presidency and the launch of his presidential campaign.
The White House has acknowledged the investigation and is cooperating with it.
“The White House is cooperating with the National Archives and the Department of Justice regarding the discovery of what appear to be Obama-Biden Administration records, including a small number of documents with classified markings,” Richard Sauber, special counsel to President Biden, said in a statement to the newspaper.
The counsel also said that the documents were found at the Penn Biden Center last November, after which the office of the White House Counsel notified the National Archives. It’s not clear what the exact nature is of the documents.
Donald Trump and Joe Biden Facing the Same Issue?
There are, per the newspaper, several key differences between the Biden documents situation and that of Trump.
Trump is facing possible charges of obstruction of justice after he reportedly did not return documents that the government asked for. His case concerns a considerably larger number of documents than the ones at issue in Biden’s.
“Much of the criminal investigation into the keeping of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s private club and residence has centered on what officials have described in court papers as possible obstruction of the efforts to recover all of the documents. So far, no such allegation has been leveled in the Biden matter, though it is at an earlier stage,” the Post said.
It appears obvious, however, that opponents of the president will declare a double standard when it comes to documents — especially if Trump ends up getting indicted in relation to the Mar-a-Lago case.
In fact, Trump has already alleged that.
“When is the FBI going to raid the many homes of Joe Biden, perhaps even the White House? These documents were definitely not declassified,” Trump said on Truth Social Monday.
“WHERE is the FBI? WHERE is the dramatic raid?,” Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX), the former White House physician and Trump loyalist, tweeted Monday. “We have two systems of justice in this country: one for them and one for us.”
Democrats defended Biden.
“I have confidence that the Attorney General took the appropriate steps to ensure the careful review of the circumstances surrounding the possession and discovery of these documents and make an impartial decision about any further action that may be needed,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) said Monday, per Axios.
National security lawyer Bradley P. Moss told Insider that the situations are very different.
“Biden’s team did exactly what you’re supposed to do,” Moss told the publication. “When you find improperly stored classified documents, you immediately notify the government — and you turn it over immediately.
“The reason Donald Trump is in criminal jeopardy right now isn’t just because of the documents being improperly stored. It was the obstruction,” Moss added in his interview with Insider. “That is why it has gotten to the point it has, where we’re looking at the real possibility of a criminal indictment.”
Insider added that the U.S. Attorney in charge of the review, Matt Lausch, is a Trump appointee and that it’s possible that the review is “motivated in part by a desire by the Department of Justice to show it is impartial.”
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.