Well this is a bit awkward. AG Merrick Garland has asked a US Attorney in Chicago to look into why classified documents from the Obama administration were found in an office that was part of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement. The FBI is also involved:
The roughly 10 documents are from President Biden’s vice-presidential office at the center, the sources said. CBS News has learned the FBI is also involved in the U.S. attorney’s inquiry.
The classified material was identified by personal attorneys for Mr. Biden on Nov. 2, just before the midterm elections, Richard Sauber, special counsel to the president confirmed. The documents were discovered when Mr. Biden’s personal attorneys “were packing files housed in a locked closet to prepare to vacate office space at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C.,” Sauber said in a statement to CBS News. The documents were contained in a folder that was in a box with other unclassified papers, the sources said. The sources revealed neither what the classified documents contain nor their level of classification. A source familiar told CBS News the documents did not contain nuclear secrets…
Garland assigned U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois John Lausch to find out how the classified material ended up at the Penn Biden Center. The review is considered a preliminary step, and the attorney general will determine whether further investigation is necessary, including potentially appointing a special counsel.
Lausch was nominated to be U.S. attorney by former President Donald Trump, and he is one of only two current Trump-era U.S. attorneys still serving…
Lausch recently briefed the attorney general and will eventually submit a final report to Garland. The review is expected to conclude soon.
Isn’t it interesting that none of this leaked to the media until a) after the election and b) when the investigation was almost complete. CNN has a follow-up report which says some of the documents were classified as “top secret/SCI.”
The classified materials included some top-secret files with the “sensitive compartmented information” designation, also known as SCI, which is used for highly sensitive information obtained from intelligence sources.
After the discovery, Biden’s lawyers immediately contacted the National Archives and Records Administration, which started looking into the matter, the source said. Biden’s team cooperated with NARA, which later came to view the situation as a mistake due to lack of safeguards for documents, the source said.
These documents have presumably been sitting there for some time (Biden hasn’t been VP for 6 years) which means they overlap with the search of Mar-a-Lago for similar documents. The politics of this situation hasn’t been lost on Rep. James Comer.
“President Biden has been very critical of President Trump mistakenly taking classified documents to the residence or wherever and now it seems he may have done the same,” said GOP Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, who is set to become the House Oversight Chairman. “How ironic.”…
Biden was critical of Trump when he saw the photograph taken by the FBI that showed an array of documents found on Trump’s property last summer.
“How that could possibly happen? How one – anyone could be that irresponsible?” Biden said. “And I thought what data was in there that may compromise sources and methods? By that I mean names of people who helped or, et cetera. … totally irresponsible.”
There are some noteworthy similarities here but there are also some differences. Trump would have been fine if his people had simply searched for and turned over all of the classified documents when the National Archives first came to collect them. Instead, he held some back for reasons unknown and gave the Archives a reason to escalate the situation.
I defended Trump when the raid first occurred but ultimately he had no legitimate reason to hang on to those materials that I can see. I still think the best explanation for why he did it is this one.
When I interviewed candidate Trump in early 2016 aboard his private 757, the pile of disorganized paper on his desk made a striking contrast to the pristine white leather seats and gold-colored hardware. An even larger mess rode in the seat next to him — thousands of pages in all…
“They want me to look at documents,” he explained. But that made no sense. The world’s fastest reader could not plow through Trump’s mess in the time he would spend on his plane that day, nor would any half-competent “they” believe that the way to bring attention to a document is to bury it among reams of unrelated flotsam…
It was a prop, as much a part of the never-ending Trump Show as the make-believe coat-of-arms he had embossed on each leather seat. The mountain of paper showed how very busy and important its owner was.
This became clear as the candidate began rummaging through the pile for various proofs of his own fame and lovability. He dug down about three inches to unearth an 8-by-10-inch photograph of the late pop superstar Michael Jackson. “Do you know who this is?” he asked improbably. “A very good friend of mine,” he answered himself.
So I don’t think Biden’s mistake clears Trump from his own failure to turn over classified documents, but it does show that Biden has done the same thing, albeit to a lesser degree. It would be nice to see Biden pressed about this and even better if he the president could manage a bit of humility about it. After blasting Trump for a similar screw up (“How that could possibly happen?”) he ought to be a little embarrassed to be caught in the same situation with papers that have probably been MIA for much longer. And after weeks of coverage of the Mar-a-Lago situation, the media ought to feel obligated to at least give this story a few days worth of effort before concluding there’s nothing to it.