Oh, to be a fly on the wall in President Joe Biden’s White House right now.
Imagine slamming former President Donald Trump for months over the Mar-a-Lago classified documents investigation only to wake up on Monday morning to learn that Biden has a nasty classified documents scandal of his own.
A “60 Minutes” interview from September in which Biden ripped Trump for having such documents at his private Mar-a-Lago residence is making the optics astonishingly worse for the sitting president.
“When you saw the photograph of the top-secret documents laid out on the floor at Mar-a-Lago, what did you think to yourself, looking at that image?” CBS host Scott Pelley asked Biden.
“How that could possibly happen,” Biden said. “How anyone could be that irresponsible. And I thought, ‘What data was in there that may compromise sources and methods?'”
Biden on classified material at Mar-a-Lago: “How [could] anyone … be that irresponsible?” pic.twitter.com/IcEePiXJ2y
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) January 9, 2023
Biden and his handlers have to be regretting that one today.
Now, after it was revealed this week that classified documents were discovered in a closet at the D.C.-based Penn Biden Center, where Biden maintained an office after serving as vice president, he should probably answer his own question: How could anyone be that irresponsible?
And remember how Biden made it a point when attacking Trump to suggest that the documents found at Mar-a-Lago could “compromise sources and methods”? Biden should probably reflect on that statement, too.
According to an exclusive CNN report, the documents found at the Penn Biden Center include “10 classified documents including US intelligence memos and briefing materials that covered topics including Ukraine, Iran and the United Kingdom, according to a source familiar with the matter.”
Making matters worse for the current president was the shocking revelation this week that Attorney General Merrick Garland had placed none other than John Lausch, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and a Trump appointee, in charge of the investigation into the discovery of the classified documents.
At least Trump can argue, legitimately, that as president he had the power to declassify any documents in his possession.
Biden as vice president? Not so much. (See the clarification note below.)
CLARIFICATION, Jan. 24, 2023: The original version of this story stated that during his time as vice president, President Joe Biden lacked the authority to declassify documents. In fact, an executive order issued in December 2009 by then-President Barack Obama extended the authority to classify documents to the vice president. The same order gave the vice president the authority to declassify documents if they were classified by the vice president in the first place.
Because the documents involved in the Biden case have not been publicly described, it’s not known whether Biden’s power to declassify their contents would apply.
This post has been edited to reflect that.
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