The average American has very little idea of what the word “classified” actually means. Most seem to think it indicates that a paper or idea listed as “classified” simply means “very private” or “for the listed parties only.” I doubt they have much concept of the importance of governmental and business information, or why something would be considered classified or confidential.
The news is rife today with media reports about how classified papers were found at Biden’s office from 2017. “His personal lawyers found the classified material while packing files in a locked closet at an office that Mr. Biden used beginning in 2017. After the discovery, the National Archives was notified the same day, and the papers were handed over the following morning. Some of the documents were designated as ‘sensitive compartmented information,’ which means they were classified above Top Secret (Biden’s Classified Document Stash).”
As pointed out by the Wall Street Journal in the above article, this is rather poor timing for Biden, as well as being somewhat comical. It puts the Left into a rather uncomfortable position, where they are forced to either push forward with charges against Biden, or walk away from the current press against Trump for his own papers held past his tenure as President.
There are differences between Trump and Biden’s cases, however, and they’re not small. I’m sure someone with a better grasp of the political system will do a more involved discussion of the details, but let’s look at some basics.
The Democrats and the Left are currently downplaying Biden’s role in holding onto the papers. The story currently being pushed is that Biden’s lawyers discovered the papers, ones that Biden didn’t even know about, and that they immediately handed them over to the National Archives (How the Discovery of Classified Files in Biden’s Office Compares With the Trump Case). Trump, as we all know, hid the papers, fought returning them, and impeded investigations into his holding onto the papers in question.
What the Dems and the Left are leaving out is more interesting to me. Whatever your personal feelings are on Trump holding onto classified documents and fighting their return, he had a right to see and hold them. As President, and as a former President, it is entirely legal and permissible for him to read them, have them, and hold onto them. Those rights are outlined in the Presidential Records Act.
Vice Presidents are not covered by the PRA. Biden did not, at any time prior to being named President himself, have any right to see, hold, or keep those documents. His being President now does not give him retroactive permission to have the papers in question, either.
The Left’s argument is that Trump was hiding “vast numbers” of papers, whereas Biden was only guilty of holding onto a few. Trump didn’t want to return his papers, and Biden’s people reported it immediately. Those differences are what the Left want you to see (Biden classified docs vs. Trump classified docs: What’s the difference?).
The problem is quality versus quantity, however. The files that were found in Biden’s old storage closet were ones from the Obama Presidency, files he should never have had. Sources (unnamed, see the articles linked below) say that they had to do with the Ukraine and were not all that important.
The question not being asked by the Left is, why did Biden have classified files about the Ukraine? On its own, it doesn’t feel like much. When you bring in the very real possibility that Biden’s son was involved at that time with the Ukraine, and the events surrounding Hunter Biden’s laptop information, it suddenly makes much more sense.
It points to a rather nepotistic abuse of power.
That abuse of power is vastly different than the boxes of papers Trump didn’t feel like returning to the National Archives. But no one on the Left wants to talk about that. In fact, if you bring it up, if you talk about how Biden should be treated the same way Trump was, there’s a sudden lull in conversation. It’s not the same, you’re told.
They’re correct. It’s not the same. I see no evidence that Trump was doing anything nefarious with the boxes of papers he had. While I wish he’d just returned them to the National Archives, I can easily put that off as his personal pig-headdedness. Biden, on the other hand, should never have had access to those papers to begin with. Now that is something that everyone ought to be investigating.