How Biden's Mishandling of Classified Documents Differs from Trump's Criminal Case

Former President Donald J. That contrasts with another special counsel's decision to bring criminal charges against Trump for possessing classified documents. He left the White House.

After the Justice Department released the special counsel's final report in the Biden documents investigation this week, Mr. Trump tried to portray the two things as equal and declared that he was being treated differently for political reasons.

“You know, look, if he's not going to be charged, that's up to them — but I shouldn't be charged,” said Mr. Trump said at a campaign event in Harrisburg. “This is nothing more than selective harassment. Biden's political opponent: Me.

But despite their superficial similarities, the facts of the two cases are very different, as the special counsel's report in the Biden investigation — Republican Robert K. Hurr, whom Mr. Trump previously appointed to two judicial posts — emphasized. Here's a closer look.

Mr. Trump and Mr. After Biden left office—Mr. Even when Trump leaves the presidency in 2021, Mr. The investigation found that documents containing classified information improperly went with Biden when he left the vice presidency in 2017. They were improperly stored. In both cases, Attorney General Merrick P. Garland appointed a special prosecutor.

In his statement, Mr. Harr said there were clear “many material differences” between the two cases, and Mr. If the allegations against Trump are proven, Mr. Biden also noted that unlike the evidence involved, it “presents seriously bad facts.” In particular, he said, the two responded to situations very differently.

“In particular, after being given multiple opportunities to withdraw classified documents and avoid prosecution, Mr. Trump allegedly did the opposite,” Mr. Harr said in the statement. “According to the indictment, he not only refused to return documents for months, but also obstructed justice by enlisting others to destroy evidence and then lie about it.”

He added: “In contrast, Mr. Biden turned over classified documents to the National Archives and the Department of Justice, consented to searches of multiple locations, including his home, sat for a voluntary interview and cooperated with the investigation in other ways.”

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To prove a crime, it is necessary to establish that the unauthorized withholding of sensitive files was “intentional”..” As the employees packed their belongings, Mr. Biden and Mr. Prosecutors would have to show Trump knew they had the items after he left office, and there was a significant discrepancy in the available evidence.

As detailed in the charge sheet, Mr. In Smith's trial, Mr. It found substantial evidence to support the conclusion that Trump knew he still had government documents, designated classified, but failed to turn them all over. He is accused of actively conspiring to cover them up.

In contrast, Mr. Harr found some evidence that Mr. Pointing to the possibility that Biden knew he was in possession of classified documents, the special counsel concluded that the facts were insufficient to prove that fact.

For example, the most important documents covering the war in Afghanistan, Mr. A cardboard box was found in Biden's garage along with piles of unrelated items. But Mr. Biden denied the documents or how they got there, speculating that whoever was packing the vice president's mansion must have thrown them together.

“We don't know why, how or by whom the documents were boxed,” said Mr. Hur wrote.

A separate issue involves the notebooks, in which Mr. Biden kept handwritten diary entries or notes on both his personal life and his official activities, including classified accounts of national security meetings.

Mr. While criticizing Biden for not keeping them safely stored, Mr. Hur finished.

Mr. In the Trump case, several hundred classified government files — along with thousands of unclassified documents and photos — ended up at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida club and home, after he left the White House.

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After a long effort, the National Archives and Records Administration was allowed to retrieve 15 boxes in early 2022, in which 197 classified files were found. In response to a subpoena for such surviving records, Mr Trump returned another set. But an FBI search at Mar-a-Lago turned up 102 more classified documents.

According to court filings, the topics included intelligence briefings about various countries, including several countries on military affairs, a country's nuclear capabilities and a contingency plan for attacking Iran.

Mr. Annexure to Har's report, Mr. It lists about 50 files recovered from Biden's vice presidency, mostly covering the war in Afghanistan, that were marked classified or later found by investigators to contain classified information. Taken while dating a senator in the 1970s.

Mr. In the Trump case, the files were found in a locked storage room at Mar-a-Lago and in drawers in his office. The investigation also uncovered photographs showing some people huddled in bathrooms and in the club's ballroom.

Mr. In Biden's case, the files ended up in a storage room in his Washington think tank, the Ben Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, which he used after leaving the vice presidency and before running for president. His home in Delaware. The most important Afghanistan war documents were in a folder in a cardboard box in his garage.

A similarity between the two cases is that in each of the records investigators obtained, Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden seems to know that they are privy to confidential information while out of the office and talking to ghostwriters for books. But Mr. Trump's note was specific and investigators were able to link it to a specific file, while Mr.

Mr. One of the charges against Trump involves a war plan to attack Iran, which he is accused of showing to an audience at his golf club in Bedminster. In the audio recording of that meeting, Mr. Trump could be heard shuffling the paper and saying, “As president I could have declassified it,” but it was still “secret.”

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In the updated indictment, prosecutors said they found documents in 15 boxes Mr. Trump returned to the National Archives and Records Administration in January 2022. (Mr. Trump said at the meeting that he never had an Iran war plan and was referring to something else.)

Mr. In Biden's case, Mr. After Biden left office in 2017, the former vice president, who was working on a memoir about his dead son Beau, obtained audio recordings and transcripts of conversations he had with a ghostwriter. Lives in a rented house in Virginia.

Mr. Biden read aloud passages from his notebooks to the ghostwriter, at one point showing him a word he couldn't read. On another occasion, Mr. Biden told the writer he “found all the classified material down there.” Mr. sending troops to Afghanistan in 2009. Opposing Obama's decision, Mr. Discussion of the memo sent by Biden.

But Mr. Hur, Mr. Investigations revealed that Biden's false comment may have referred to specific classified documents about the war in Afghanistan, later discovered in a Delaware garage — which, if true, would create record evidence of deliberate withholding. – He found no evidence that the files were in Virginia's home.

Mr. Biden, for his part, said Mr. He said he was referring to finding a copy of his declassified memo to Obama, and he mischaracterized it as sensitive so he didn't want the writer to talk.

“I said 'classified'; I should have said it was 'private' because it had to do with what was going on between a president and a vice president,” Mr. Biden said at a news conference Thursday night after Mr. Harin's statement came out. “That's what he's referring to. It is not classified information in that document. It is not classified.”

From the notebooks Mr. Biden's reading, Mr. Hur finished.

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