The GOP has the wrong strategy when it comes to Joe Biden: The discovery of classified documents at President Joe Biden’s home and in an office he used after his vice presidency is certainly an embarrassment, especially after Biden said last summer about former President Donald Trump‘s mishandling of classified materials, “how that could possibly happen, how anyone could be that irresponsible?”
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On the surface, there are similarities in these cases.
Both men – or at least their respective “teams” – were irresponsible in the handling of classified materials. There are also notable differences. Trump refused to hand over the documents, while Biden’s people found them and quickly tried to address the issue. Trump had thousands of documents, with hundreds marked classified or top secret compared to fewer than a dozen that Biden possessed.
Yet, Biden’s disclosure is still an issue that has frustrated some of his closest allies. It looks like a cover-up, which is never good for a sitting president who promised transparency and was set to announce he’s seeking reelection. In fact, according to the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll on Thursday, Biden’s approval has taken another U-turn. It had been on a steady rise in the final months of 2022 as inflation was falling.
Now it is Biden’s poll numbers that have fallen instead and were down to just 40% approval – near the lowest of his presidency.
Joe Biden and The Docs: Republicans Need a New Strategy
For Trump’s allies, the fact that classified documents were found in Biden’s office and home was just a magic bullet that they’d been waiting for. But the truth is that while Trump could be charged with obstruction for willfully delaying the document’s return, Biden likely will face no charges as it would require willful intent, and there is no evidence that Biden knew the documents were there.
Then there is the fact that the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) has a decades-old rule that a sitting president can’t be indicted.
That may not be enough for some of Trump’s allies in Congress who would certainly love to impeach the sitting president. But that would only look like revenge for Congress twice impeaching Donald Trump. As the Democrats control the Senate, there is simply zero chance – even as some Democrats may be embarrassed by this debacle – that Biden would be removed from office.
The smarter play for the Republicans would be to make a statement that they’re extremely upset that the president mishandled the documents, and warn voters that we should not trust Joe Biden for an additional four years.
Make it a campaign issue, not a political fight waged by lawmakers.
Moreover, the Republican-controlled Congress could send a message that impeachment should never be used as a vendetta against the occupant of the White House you simply don’t like. That could resonate with voters beyond the MAGA-base, which is what the GOP needs if it hopes to take back the Senate in 2024 and ensure Biden doesn’t get a second term.
In other words, continue to give Biden the rope to hang himself as he must answer for how this happened.
“I think you’re going to find there’s nothing there. I have no regrets,” Biden said defiantly to reporters this week. He has done himself no favors in his response. The GOP should play on that.
Instead of an attack, make the voters regret voting for Biden, as the special counsel conducts its investigation. And that can only happen by not attempting to allow independent voters to rally behind him if the Republican-controlled Congress appears to be engaging in a witch hunt.
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Author Experience and Expertise: A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.