The FBI’s raid on President Joe Biden’s home and the discovery of more sensitive materials have increased the severity of his classified documents controversy and exacerbated the political ramifications.
Biden’s lawyers said Friday’s investigation highlighted his cooperation with the special counsel’s investigation, tacitly distinguishing him from former President Donald Trump’s actions in his own classified documents scandal. claimed.
Yet the reality of FBI agents searching a sitting president’s private residence remains an anomaly, something the White House tries to downplay. New questions have arisen as to why Biden still had classified information from his vice presidency. How the materials, usually handled with the utmost care by federal officials, ended up in his private residence. And whether it has been protected from prying eyes over the years.
The new findings have led to some sharp criticism of the president, even among Democrats. and distract from the president’s period of political success, paving the way for a new Republican House majority.
Senate Majority Rep. Dick Durbin said in CNN’s State of the Union address on Sunday, “When that information is discovered, it puts the person who has it down in stature. Because it’s bound to happen.” “Whether it’s the staff’s fault or the lawyer’s, it makes no difference. Elected officials are ultimately responsible,” added the Illinois Democrat.
Durbin, like other Democrats, has also articulated Biden’s cooperation with the Justice Department and Trump’s months of apparent obfuscation and potential criminal obstruction of his own trove of classified documents. But Republican leaders tried to use the opportunity Biden offered his political opponents to deepen Biden’s displeasure.
“As a former federal prosecutor, I think it’s important that investigations were consensual, but they’re no longer dependent on their lawyers’ compliance,” the Texas Republican continued. . It really ratchet the investigation. ”
While the Biden-Trump lawsuits have nuanced legal differences, many voters may simply perceive both to be about broader issues of classified material held by Biden and Trump. . And years from now, when the current president’s legacy is assessed, his current embarrassment may be fleeting.
A 13-hour FBI visit to Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, was made public Saturday night by Biden’s personal attorney, and the Justice Department said it had released “six documents consisting of documents marked with classification marks and related materials. It took away items, some of which were from the president’s service in the Senate and some of them from his tenure as vice president.” Attorney Bob Bauer said in a statement.
This was after about 20 documents were previously discovered by the president’s lawyers in Mr. Biden’s home and office he used in Washington after leaving the vice presidency.
Senior White House attorney Richard Sauber said in a statement on Saturday that Biden “takes this seriously and has promised to handle it responsibly,” he and his team said in a statement. “We worked quickly to make sure the Department of Justice and the special counsel got what they needed,” he said. Thoroughly reviewed. ”
This is a clear attempt to distinguish the president’s situation from that of Trump. claimed to have been released.
Obstruction of justice is among the charges Trump could face in a special counsel investigation. Biden’s actions don’t seem to suggest he faces similar exposures, even though he wasn’t protected by past Justice Department guidance that sitting presidents are protected from prosecution. am.
In theory, it is possible to see a final justification for prosecuting Trump for obstruction, for example, and for Biden to escape blame if the evidence merits such action. But while such a legal distinction may exist, the political implications of such a course would be inflammatory. The question of whether to indict Trump as the former president and current White House candidate for 2024 was already radioactive. The perception that he was treated differently than Biden will create political hell that Trump will surely exploit, as the two rivals could potentially face each other in 2024.
Saturday’s discovery of new documents represents the latest example of subsequent events, including the discovery of more sensitive material, following attempts by the White House and the president to minimize the incident.
After hinting that classified documents found in the garage were safe, Biden previously had the garage locked to protect his beloved Corvette, telling reporters when asked about the situation on Thursday, “There There is no,’ he said.
But the next day, FBI agents who searched Wilmington’s home with a legal team uncovered more classified material in a way that further blurred the line between his case and Trump’s. Democrats are defending the president, but there are clear signs of concern and even frustration among his supporters in Congress that the White House has yet to put a lid on the controversy.
Virginia Democratic Senator Tim Kaine, for example, said on Sunday that despite the president’s cooperation with the investigation, important questions remain.
“That’s why we need this independent investigation. … How many documents are we talking about? Dozens, handfuls or hundreds? How serious are they? Why were they taken away?” Did anyone have access to them?” Kane said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who sometimes takes a stance at odds with Democratic leaders, partly because of Trump’s popularity in his home state, is critical of Biden and wants answers.
“It’s unbelievable how this happens. Totally irresponsible,” he told CNN’s Bash. “The thing to do is exactly what[Attorney General]Merrick Garland did. Put in a special counsel. Let’s wait and see. It was worse than what they did and what President Biden did.” And maybe that’s true. Do not know. Maybe it’s not true. Let’s check. ”
Friday’s FBI raid and Biden’s legal team’s apparent cooperation appear to take away one of the main points from Republicans — Trump said his property was “raided” and Biden wasn’t. Republicans have asked the FBI to convince judges that last year’s search for Mar-a-Lago had good reason to believe a crime may have been committed. This line was used even though it was authorized by a court warrant to do so.
But few Republicans have mentioned such a difference. Florida Senator Rick Scott said, “Think about this. Joe Biden had classified documents around his home for years with no explanation or accountability as to why.” Among multiple other proud tweets from Republicans, Missouri Senator Josh Hawley added: The American public has a right to know the contents of all these documents that Biden illegally amassed. And who else had access to them. ”
The Republican jubilation reflects an opportunity for the Republican Party after a poor start to the 2024 presidential election, and a remarkable fortune for Trump.