Revelation of Potentially Classified Material The discovery of a think tank office formerly used by President Joe Biden has raised questions about how that compares to last year’s seizures Hundreds of documents marked as classified come from Mar-a-Lago, the Florida residence of former President Donald Trump.
See the similarities and differences between the two cases side by side:
How many classified documents are we talking about?
Biden: “A small number of documents marked as classified” were found on November 11. In a locked closet at the Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Pennsylvania, a Washington think tank, on Feb. 2, 2022, Biden’s personal lawyer was cleaning out the office, according to special counsel to the president Richard Sauber.
Biden maintained an office at Penn Center after leaving the vice presidency in 2017 until shortly before he began his 2020 presidential campaign. It is affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania and continues to operate independently of the Biden administration.
TRUMP: Since Trump left office in January 2021, about 300 classified-marked documents have been recovered from Trump — including some top-secret.
In January 2022, the National Archives retrieved 15 boxes documents, which Justice Department officials said contained “a lot” of classified material. In August, FBI agents seized approximately 33 boxes and containers The 11,000 documents from Mar-a-Lago, about 100 of which were classified, were found in storage rooms and offices.
How fast are confidential documents turned in?
BIDEN: Thorber said his personal attorney immediately notified the White House counsel’s office, which notified NARA, which took custody of the documents the next day.
“Since this discovery, the President’s personal counsel has worked with the Archives and the Department of Justice to ensure that the Archives securely preserves any records of the Obama-Biden administration,” Sauber said.
Trump: A Trump representative told NARA in December 2021 that nearly a year after Trump left office, presidential records were found at Mar-a-Lago. In January, 15 boxes of records containing some classified material were transferred from Mar-Lago to NARA.
Months later, investigators from the Justice Department and the FBI visited Mar-a-Lago to get more information on the classified material being taken to Florida. Federal officials also issued subpoenas for some documents believed to be at the estate.
In August 2022, FBI agents conducted a search and recovered 33 boxes from Mar-a-Lago. The search came after Trump’s lawyers provided sworn certification that all government records had been returned.
Will the president face charges related to the document discovery?
BIDEN: Despite the discovery of classified material in Biden’s office, there is no indication that Biden himself knew about the records’ existence before they were turned over.
The government also said the records were handed over the same day they were discovered, with no attempt to conceal them. That’s important because the Justice Department has historically looked at intent to knowingly or mishandle government secrets when deciding whether to bring criminal charges.
But even if the Justice Department determined the case to be prosecuted based on the evidence, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel concluded that the president was immune to prosecution while in office. Former special counsel Robert Mueller cited the guidance in his decision not to conclude whether Trump should face charges as part of his investigation into coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016. part of the investigation.
Attorney General Merrick Garland asked U.S. Attorney John Rausch for the Northern District of Illinois — one of the few U.S. attorneys in the Trump administration — after the archives referred questions to the department, according to a person familiar with the matter. The matter is reviewed but not authorized to discuss it publicly.
TRUMP: The former president could face exposure for thwarting the protracted battle to retrieve the documents themselves. And, since he’s no longer in office, he won’t have protections from possible prosecutions that apply to a sitting president.
In November, Garland appointed Jack Smith, A veteran war crimes prosecutor with a background in public corruption investigations, leading the investigation into Trump’s retention of classified documents, as well as key aspects of another probe involving Jan. 17. On January 6, 2021, the uprising and efforts to withdraw the 2020 elections.
What have the presidents said about the document discovery?
BIDEN: Answering questions from reporters Tuesday at a summit of North American leaders in Mexico, Biden said he was “surprised to learn” that the documents were found in his think tank. He said he did not know what was in the material, but “takes very seriously” the classified documents.
He said his team quickly turned over the documents and took appropriate action.
“They did what they were supposed to do,” Biden said. “They immediately called the archives.”
In September, Biden spoke about his relationship with Trump on CBS’ “60 Minutes” The discovery of top-secret documents at Mar-a-Lago has sparked concerns that sensitive data has been compromised and called it “irresponsible”.
TRUMP: Trump has sometimes claimed he declassified documents he had with him — though he has offered no evidence.In an interview with Fox News, he said In September, the president could declassify material “even with thought.”
The former president called the Mar-a-Lago search an “unannounced raid” that was “unnecessary or inappropriate” and represented “a dark time for our country.”
Regarding Biden, Trump posted a comment on his social media site on Monday, asking, “When will the FBI raid many of Joe Biden’s homes, possibly even the White House?”
What are the political implications of the document’s discovery?
Biden: While unlikely to influence the Justice Department’s decision to charge Trump in his own case, Biden’s document disclosure could fuel skepticism among Republicans and others who have criticized politics for investigating the former president Foundation.
A new Republican-controlled Congress could also have an impact, with Republicans promising a wide-ranging investigation into the Biden administration.
Rep. Jim Jordan, chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee, said Monday that the American public should have known about the exposure of classified Biden documents earlier. The Ohio Republican joined House Republicans in pushing for a “Task Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government” within the Judiciary Committee.
Rep. Mike Turner, The top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee has asked the U.S. intelligence community to conduct a “damage assessment” of documents found at the Penn center.
TRUMP: Shortly after the incident, Trump and his supporters dismissed the Mar-a-Lago raid as a partisan attack by Democrats, who have long sought to remove him from office.
During the 2024 campaign in November, agents had raided the same club months earlier, and Trump referred to the investigation against him, calling himself a wayward prosecutor and “a Washington fester, “victims” of rot and corruption”.
Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP
Associated Press writers Eric Tucker and Zeke Miller in Washington contributed to this report.