Afterthoughts: Third Special Prosecutor Needed for Classified Documents
While Democrats are quick to say the recent revelations about President Joe Biden having classified documents from his time as vice president under former President Barack Obama is very different from the documents seized during the August raid at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, they are missing a key point and difference that begs for a third special counsel.
Since information came out Jan. 9 that classified documents were discovered in November at a Washington, D.C., think tank office used by Biden from 2017-19, Democrats have clamored to say the case is vastly different from Trump having such documents in Florida.
Democrats say Trump’s possession and legal battle with the National Archives shows criminality and damages national security, while for Biden, it must have simply been an inadvertent accident due to the quick packing and transport during the transition in January 2017.
That possible scenario, however, loses credibility almost daily as more and more documents are found at locations tied to Biden, including his personal residence in Delaware.
Attorney General Merrick Garland, who appointed special counsel Jack Smith to criminally investigate Trump for his handling of documents, found himself in a position where he had no choice but to appoint a special counsel to investigate Biden’s situation as well.
For the first time in United States history two presidents, one former and one sitting, are simultaneously being investigated by the Department of Justice for relatively the same violation of the same federal law regarding classified materials.
The Democrats may be correct in asserting that the two cases are vastly different, but not in the way they have stated, and with a lack of understanding the bigger picture which demands a third special counsel appointment.
Let me explain.
Trump has asserted since dozens of armed F.B.I. agents descended on his home that he, as president, has the statutory authority to de-classify documents and therefore there is no violation of law.
The challenge for Trump is determining exactly what has to happen legally for that declassification to happen.
In the past, it seems, presidents have declassified a variety of materials with little more than the stroke of a pen.
As a matter of fact, many Americans have called on both presidents Trump and Biden, as well as others, to declassify documents regarding subjects from the Kennedy assassination to UFOs without requiring more than simply releasing them publicly.
Biden, on the other hand, was vice president and did not have any such authority under the law to possess, let alone declassify the documents he had, some of which were found in the locked garage of his home with his prized corvette, which he made clear to reporters.
“It wasn’t left on the street,” Biden said of the material.
Something else to remember from 2016 regarding classified materials is, of course, that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was found to have classified material on a home email server in New York, as well as losing some 30,000 emails which could have also contained classified materials.
Then F.B.I. Director Richard Comey went to great lengths during a press conference to assert that while what Clinton had done was “reckless” in her handling of the classified material, it lacked, in his judgment, the “intent” required to be prosecuted as a crime.
As an aside, there does not seem to be anyone weighing either Trump or Biden’s “intent” in the current scandal before seemingly rushing to investigate or prosecute.
Several pundits on both sides of the aisle say this has been a problem with administrations for decades and with presidents of both parties.
The difference is the disputes were usually managed privately and without fanfare, which today’s political climate no longer allows, especially when it comes to possibly charging Trump with anything resembling a crime.
The larger problem, however, and especially if these pundits are historically correct, is that anyone apparently had these sensitive materials outside of their official government offices.
That is a problem that is not about left or right, Trump or Biden, Republican or Democrat, but something that needs a strong legislative fix that will not let it happen again in the future without severe consequences.
But the second “bigger picture” with the scandal is that two of those mentioned above, Clinton, who was running for president at the time, and Biden, both were working in the Obama administration.
That means that Obama is responsible for both security breaches from his vice president and his secretary of state.
If he did not know anything about these security breaches, that means he was incompetent at least, and horribly lax and reckless with such material as the executive officer of the country.
In the worst case, he did know they were both in possession of classified and sensitive material and apparently didn’t care.
Both are bad and both possibilities need to be flushed out by a third special counsel to investigate Obama’s involvement with both instances.
If we are really going down the road of prosecutions regarding these issues, we need to be fair and investigate all aspects comprehensively, including whatever happened during the Obama administration that allowed two cabinet-level officials to have secret documents outside of their official government offices.
I would also advise Garland, while he is at it, to execute search warrants at the homes of all federal officials including past presidents, vice presidents, cabinet officials, Congressmen, and others who may have had access to classified documents.
Let’s see just how deep the rabbit hole goes, and who may be involved.
Then we can decide to either prosecute everyone, or pardon everyone, and change the law to make the nation more secure.