Exposure to classified potential items The discovery in the offices of a think tank previously used by President Joe Biden has prompted questions about how the situation compares to last year’s seizure. Hundreds of declassified documents from Mar-a-Lago, Florida home of former President Donald Trump.
Here’s a side-by-side look at the similarities and differences between the two situations:
How many classified documents are we talking about?
BIDEN: A “small number of documents with classified identification” were found in a locked closet at the Ben Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, a Washington think tank, on November 2, 2022, when Biden’s personal lawyers were removing them. offices, according to Special Counsel to the President Richard Saber.
Biden kept an office at the Penn Center after leaving the vice presidency in 2017, until shortly before he launched his 2020 presidential campaign. It was affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania and operated independently of the Biden administration.
Trump: Since Trump left office in January 2021, about 300 documents with classification markings — including some at the top secret level — have been recovered.
In January 2022, the National Archives and Records Administration recovered 15 boxes The documents contained “substantial” classified material to Justice officials. In August, FBI agents seized approximately 33 boxes and containers 11,000 documents from Mar-a-Lago, including approximately 100 with classification markings found in a storage room and office.
How quickly were classified documents transferred?
Biden: His personal lawyers immediately alerted the White House counsel’s office, which notified NARA, which took custody of the documents the next day, Saber said.
“Since that discovery, the president’s personal attorneys have cooperated with the archives and the Department of Justice in the process of ensuring that Obama-Biden administration records remain in the Archives’ possession,” Saber said.
Trump: A Trump representative told NARA in December 2021 that presidential records were discovered at Mar-a-Lago, nearly a year after Trump left office. Fifteen boxes of logs containing some classified material were moved from Mar-Lago to Nara in January.
A few months later, investigators from the Department of Justice and the FBI visited Mar-a-Lago to obtain more information about the classified material being transported to Florida. Federal authorities also issued subpoenas for certain documents believed to be in the estate.
In August 2022, FBI agents recovered 33 boxes from the Mar-a-Lago they searched. The search was conducted after Trump’s lawyers provided an affidavit stating that all government records had been returned.
Can a President face charges related to discovery of documents?
Biden: Although classified materials were found in Biden’s office, there is no indication that Biden knew about the existence of the records before they were withdrawn.
The management also claimed that the records were flipped on the same day they were discovered, without any ulterior motives. This is important because the judiciary has historically determined whether to bring criminal charges for willful or intentional mishandling of government secrets.
But while the Justice Department found the case prosecutable on the evidence, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel has concluded that a president is immune from prosecution during his term in office. Former special counsel Robert Mueller cited guidance in deciding whether Trump should face charges as part of the 2016 investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Attorney General Merrick Garland asked John Lash, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, one of the few U.S. attorneys on hold from the Trump administration. matter but not authorized to discuss it publicly.
Trump: Ex-president faces obstruction in protracted battle to retrieve documents themselves Also, since he is no longer in office, he is not afforded immunity from potential lawsuits applicable to a sitting president.
In November, Garland appointed Jack Smith. A veteran war crimes prosecutor with a background in public corruption investigations to lead investigations into key aspects of a separate investigation involving Trump’s retention of classified documents, as well as the Jan. 6, 2021, coup and attempts to overturn the 2020 election.
What do presidents have to say about the discovery of documents?
BIDEN: Responding to questions from reporters at the North American Leaders Summit in Mexico on Tuesday, Biden said he was “surprised” to learn of the discovery of documents on his think tank. He said he did not know what was in the contents, but he took classified documents “very seriously”.
He said his team acted appropriately by transferring the documents quickly.
“They did what they had to do,” Biden said. “They immediately called the archives.”
In September, Biden told CBS’s “60 Minutes” about the situation with Trump The discovery of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago raised concerns that sensitive data had been compromised and called it “irresponsible.”
Trump: Trump has sometimes claimed to have classified documents he carried with him — but he has offered no evidence of that. He said in an interview with Fox News In September a president could classify the material “by thinking about it.”
The former president called the Mar-a-Lago search an “unannounced raid” that was “unnecessary or inappropriate” and represented “dark times for our nation.”
Regarding Biden, Trump weighed in on his social media site Monday, asking, “When is the FBI going to raid Joe Biden’s multiple homes, maybe even the White House?”
What are the political implications of the discovery of the documents?
Biden: While unlikely to affect the Justice Department’s decision to charge Trump in his own case, the release of Biden’s dossier could intensify suspicions among Republicans and others who already criticize the former president’s investigation as politically motivated.
There are also potential changes in a new, GOP-controlled Congress, where Republicans have vowed to launch wide-ranging investigations of Biden’s administration.
Rep. Jim Jordan, chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee, said Monday that the American public deserved to know about the disclosure of classified Biden documents. The Ohio Republican is among House Republicans pushing for the creation of a “Select Subcommittee on Armaments of the Federal Government” within the Judiciary Committee.
Representative Mike Turner, The top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee has demanded that the US intelligence community conduct a “damage assessment” of the documents found at the Penn Center.
Trump: In its immediate aftermath, Trump and his supporters seized on the Mar-a-Lago search as a partisan attack on Democrats who had long wanted him out of office.
During his 2024 campaign launch in November, when the same club agents searched for months earlier, Trump referred to the investigations against him, portraying himself as the “victim” of wayward prosecutors and the “disorder, rot and corruption of Washington.”
Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP
Associated Press writers Eric Tucker and Jake Miller in Washington contributed to this report.