Donald Trump: A Lucky Break?
But now, with revelations about classified documents being found in the homes of President Joseph Biden and former Vice President Mike Pence, some Republican strategists are calling it a lucky break for Trump.
According to Axios, strategists are considering Trump a “political winner” from the document revelations.
“In terms of the political perception, this is a gift for Trump 1,000% over,” GOP strategist Ford O’Connell told Axios. “What the Republicans, and particularly the Republican base, is very concerned about is what they call a double standard.”
“This neutralizes the issue, both within the Republican primary and in the event Trump emerges as the nominee for the 2024 general election,” Republican strategist Ken Spain told Axios. “To the extent voters sympathetic to Trump were looking elsewhere because of the multitude of recent political vulnerabilities that have come up post-midterm election, I think it gives them pause.”
But as Axios acknowledged, there are big differences in the cases, including the number of documents and how they reacted once the documents were discovered. In Trump’s case, there were many more documents at issue, as well as much less cooperation than in the cases of Biden and Pence.
The New York Times this week also looked at the issue.
“Even if nothing comes of the new special counsel investigation into his team’s mishandling of classified documents, politically it has effectively let former President Donald J. Trump off the hook for hoarding secret papers,” the Times said.
David Axelrod, a former campaign and White House aide to President Barack Obama, agreed.
“I feel it’s likely that when the probe is done, the Biden case will wind up being one of unintended mistakes — carelessness but not willful defiance of the rules or law,” Axelrod told the Times. “The Trump case is much different and more serious. But in the court of public opinion, those lines may now be blurred.”
Now that so many current and former elected officials have been found to have classified documents in their possession, the question has been raised into whether that’s a common thing.
USA Today this week reached out and asked all of the living ex-presidents and vice presidents, to ask if they were holding classified documents in their possession.
Trump and Biden, of course, are both dealing with Special Counsel investigations. The office of former President Barack Obama did answer.
“Consistent with the Presidential Records Act, all of President Obama’s classified records were submitted to the National Archives upon leaving office,” Obama’s office told USA Today. “NARA continues to assume physical and legal custody of President Obama’s materials to date.”
As for George W. Bush, his office also answered the newspaper, stating that all materials were turned over when Bush left office.
“That search was conducted before he left the White House, when all of his Presidential records – classified and unclassified – were turned over to the National Archives,” a Bush aide said.
Bush’s vice president, Dick Cheney, did not answer, but the newspaper said that his vice presidential records are preserved as part of the National Archives and Records Administration.
In the case of Bill Clinton, his office told USA Today that “all of President Clinton’s classified materials were properly turned over to NARA in accordance with the Presidential Records Act.”
It was a similar story for Clinton’s vice president, Al Gore.
“When leaving the White House in January 2001, Vice President Gore and his staff turned over materials to NARA in accordance with the Presidential Records Act. No classified materials have been discovered in the 22 years since VP Gore left public office,” Gore’s office said.
USA Today did not publish a response from former President Jimmy Carter, but did report that “Carter found at least one batch of classified materials at his home in Plains, Georgia and returned them to the National Archives.”
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Expertise and Experience: 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.