The media are bending over backwards to argue that former President Donald Trump’s retention of allegedly classified document is worse than President Joe Biden’s, but the opposite is true.
We’ve learned over the course of last week that Biden kept classified documents in at least three unauthorized and essentially unsecured locations: the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C., and in his garage and office in his Wilmington, Delaware, home.
The New York Times, NBC News and Politico were among the news outlets that jumped to Biden’s defense when the news first broke.
“The circumstances of the two cases appear strikingly different,” the Times said.
Similarly, NBC News reported the circumstances between Trump and Biden being “very different,” relying on how the documents were first discovered.
Apparently, the Archives being clueless or uncurious that Biden had documents (including classified ones) made it more-or-less okay to NBC.
Likewise, Politico’s Renato Mariotti was willing to write off Biden having the classified documents as a “sloppy and inadvertent” retention issue versus Trump’s willful retention.
Here’s a shot of Joe Biden’s “locked” GARAGE where he was hiding classified documents. pic.twitter.com/QcxfTZdaMx
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) January 12, 2023
Maybe the documents were delivered and retrained at the Biden Center without his knowledge, but next to his Corvette and in his home with classified markings on them, and he didn’t know about it?
To borrow a Bidenism: Come on, man!
Trump’s legal team of course knew about the documents he retained, but they were in a back-and-forth with the Archives over ownership.
In June 2022, Trump’s people showed the FBI the room where the documents were being kept, CBS News reported.
The Archives confirmed that Trump returned 15 boxes in February 2022 containing documents that had been shipped to Mar-a-Lago from the White House after he left office.
Mark Levin — who served as chief of staff to Attorney General Edwin Meese during the Reagan administration — noted on his Fox News program “Life, Liberty & Levin” Sunday the one big difference between Trump’s and Biden’s cases, which are now both the subject of special counsel investigations: Trump had the complete authority to declassify documents created in his administration and Biden did not.
“The president has plenary power. He is the executive branch. He can classify and declassify at-will,” Levin said.
Trump in fact posted on Truth Social after the raid of his home that all the documents in question were declassified.
BREAKING: Trump statement on the FBI’s search warrant: pic.twitter.com/AxDwJJL0mJ
— Washington Free Beacon (@FreeBeacon) August 12, 2022
Biden only had the authority to declassify documents from his vice presidency that he ordered classified in the first place, according to the fact checker Snopes.
“We still don’t know how many classified documents we’re talking about” in the case of Biden, Levin pointed out. “There has not, to my knowledge, been a national security review. It just seems like in this Biden case, you don’t see the urgency.”
“Trump had documents in the basement locked up in a storage facility. The FBI came and they knew where they were. He didn’t have them in his garage, next to his car or in some other unsecured place,” he added.
Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett argued that Biden is in more legal jeopardy than Trump.
“I think President Biden is more at criminal risk here because Trump had the ability to declassify documents, unfettered authority, he can do it on his own. He doesn’t have to tell anybody,” Jarrett said Friday.
— Brian Kilmeade (@kilmeade) January 13, 2023
“Joe Biden, when he was vice president and departed office, obviously took classified documents with him,” he added. “He doesn’t have declassification authority. You’ll notice he’s not claiming, ‘Oh, you know, I declassified these documents.'”
“It’s a crime to remove and store classified documents and put them in an unauthorized location,” Jarrett said. “I’m sorry, but the Corvette defense doesn’t cut it.”
The legal analyst pointed to Biden having the documents in three locations, which suggests “knowledge and intent.”
The statute at issue regarding the handling of classified documents also includes a “gross negligence” standard. “Three different locations is the definition of recklessness,” Jarrett said, “so it’a actionable in a court of law against Joe Biden.”
Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy wrote in a piece for National Review last week that neither the law nor the facts are in Biden’s favor.
“The evidence that the president violated the criminal law is so strong,” McCarthy wrote, “that he’s really not contesting the basic facts; instead, he’ll contend that on balance he should be the beneficiary of prosecutorial discretion.”
Many in the media have been getting it wrong: Biden’s, not Trump’s case, is a slam dunk for the mishandling of classified materials.