No U.S. president has ever been prosecuted for obstruction related to the Presidential Records Act, which wouldn’t be a criminal violation, anyway, or the Espionage Act, which was not intended to be used against a president.
Now that the “Justice” Department has overreached like crazy in the matter of Donald Trump’s marked-as-classified documents at Mar-a-Lago — probably in its zeal to find anything usable against Trump by the Jan. 6 Kangaroo Kommittee — we have to determine the appropriate reaction to President Joe Biden doing what is arguably much worse, considering Biden didn’t even have the authority to declassify documents.
“They’ve made a mess of things,” Mark Levin said Sunday night. “They’re a disgrace.”
Let’s focus on Levin, because he made some points in his monologue that haven’t received much play elsewhere.
Essentially all top government officials, he said, have taken documents home and even kept them. “And some of them have been classified.” Until Trump, this was never treated as criminal. And a new low was set when even Hillary Clinton’s egregiously criminal behavior was dismissed by then-FBI Director James Comey because he said “no reasonable prosecutor” would take the case. (Of course, he was wrong about that, but the case was still dropped.)
Kentucky Rep. James Comer, who now heads the House Oversight Committee, told Levin last Sunday that they’d be looking into the standards of the National Archives and how they were applied differently.
Comer is convinced that the raid on Mar-a-Lago was “triggered by the Jan. 6 committee, just doing a fishing expedition to see if they could find anything … they could use against Donald Trump.” Every request they’ve made to the National Archives, he said, has been answered with the recommendation that they talk with Attorney General Merrick Garland. But he’ll demand answers, he said, adding that they have evidence that other presidents, “in both parties,” took documents, “and nothing like that had ever happened.”
The first leak about classified documents at the Penn Biden Center (which actually were found several days before the midterm elections) happened last Monday evening, the day after that interview. Levin is convinced the timing of the leak had to do with the interview, because Comer had said his committee would be looking at the National Archives and how it’s treated past presidents and VPs, and also the relationship between the DOJ and the J6 committee. Levin believes the leak was an attempt to get ahead of what would inevitably come out.
And this is key: After Trump’s comment following the Mar-a-Lago raid that Barack Obama had taken millions of pages of classified documents with no repercussions, the National Archives responded, and Matt Naham at Law & Crime spun the story on Aug. 12:
“Days after the FBI’s search of his Mar-A-Lago home for classified documents, at least some of which reportedly relate to nuclear weapons [editorial aside: turned out they didn’t], former President Donald Trump attempted to shift attention [editorial aside: more spin] to former President Barack Obama. Trump’s Truth Social posts insinuated that he is being politically targeted and uniquely persecuted unlike his predecessor, but the National Archives (NARA) rebutted that … in a statement.”
Naham continued: “The agency said it ‘assumed exclusive legal and physical custody of Obama Presidential records when President Barack Obama left office in 2017, in accordance with the Presidential Records Act (PRA). NARA moved approximately 30 million pages of unclassified records to a NARA facility in the Chicago area where they are maintained exclusively by NARA.
“‘Additionally, NARA maintains the classified Obama Presidential records in a NARA facility in the Washington DC area,’ the statement said. ‘As required by the PRA, former President Obama has no control over where and how NARA stores the Presidential records of his Administration.’”
So, the National Archives is maintaining the classified records from Obama’s presidency? How could that be, when Biden had some of them at his office at the Penn Biden Center, in his garage next to his Corvette, in his home library, and who knows where else? NARA did NOT have this under control at all.
On Nov. 2, Biden’s attorneys found the first batch of classified documents at Biden’s office. We still don’t know why the search was started in the first place.
On Nov. 4 (a few days before the election), NARA contacted a DOJ prosecutor.
On Nov. 9 (right after the election), the FBI “began an assessment.”
On Nov. 14, Garland assigned U.S. Attorney John Lausch to perform an initial investigation. This was all secret. Four days later, Garland appointed special counsel Jack Smith… not to investigate Biden, but to investigate Trump.
On Dec. 20, Biden’s personal attorney informed Lausch that additional classified documents had been found in Biden’s garage. The FBI took possession.
On Jan. 5, Lausch briefed Garland on the investigation and recommended a special counsel.
The Biden classified documents story was kept secret for yet another week. The leak to CBS News about the first batch of documents — again, probably by the Biden administration, to get in front of the story — was on Jan. 9.
On Jan. 12, Biden’s attorneys called Lausch and said they’d found an additional document. By then, documents had been found in three different locations.
We thought that whatever led to the Biden attorneys doing these searches, they were the ones doing it because they had attorney-client privilege with the president. By the third “discovery,” though, and after the way the Trump matter had been handled, you’d think these attorneys would’ve at least received subpoenas to search all of Biden’s homes and offices. All the information the DOJ is receiving has been straight from Biden’s own lawyers, and they seem fine with that. In contrast, the DOJ had no patience with Trump’s lawyers during negotiations over the papers at Mar-a-Lago.
Levin sees the same inconsistency — hard to believe anyone wouldn’t — and believes it was out of eagerness to charge Trump with obstruction. Congress needed this because it hadn’t proved anything against Trump involving Jan. 6. But with Biden, “it seems they’re not in a hurry,” he said. They “don’t see the urgency.” This is after Biden had had the documents who knows where for six years. And you know he had to be aware of the laws concerning classified documents after half a century in government.
An attorney general who was not a political hack might do what Levin recommends Garland do: pull back. Admit the DOJ overreached when it went after Trump and shouldn’t hound any president, current or former, about this. Well, that won’t be happening because they’re set on getting Trump. And as we’ve said, trapping Biden in the same net might actually suit Democrats just fine if they don’t want Biden to run in ‘24, either. That might be why California Rep. Adam Schiff, who will say anything for strategic purposes, came out with this.
James Trusty, former DOJ prosecutor and Trump’s current attorney in the document matter, said on the show, “In the history of this country, these ‘overdue library book’ disputes, for lack of a better way to phrase it … those were not the stuff of criminal enforcement.” In fact, the Presidential Records Act specifically excludes that; Trusty said that’s why they trotted out the Espionage Act. An unresolved dispute over these records would normally result in a civil suit, not criminal charges.
He noted, as many have, that the warrant to search Mar-a-Lago was so broad that it really was a general warrant, a kind of blank check that violates the Fourth Amendment.
The attorney general, he said, “needs to do what’s right and stop this stain on the Department of Justice and the FBI.” If only. It would be wildly out of character for Garland to do that, and besides, there’s already a stain on the DOJ and FBI that wouldn’t come out if they used Bon Ami.
RELATED: Now that we know Biden’s Delaware home had classified documents within easy reach, the House Oversight Committee is trying to get the visitor logs from there for the past two years. Good luck with that; do the Bidens even keep a log of visitors? Mar-A-Lago apparently didn’t, though the Secret Service did have some records.
We do know Hunter Biden lived at his father’s Delaware home after his 2017 divorce. (Maybe the FBI won’t raid it because it’s afraid it’ll find more laptops.) I wonder if his dad let him drive the ‘Vette. On a background check in 2018, he falsely claimed he owned the property. He was deep in addiction then, so maybe that’s why on the same form he said he was paying almost $50,000 a month in rent to live in a home he claimed he owned. On Joe Biden’s 2017 tax return, he listed a mere $19,800 in “rents received.” In 2018, that figure was zero. More details here…
There’s a must-read story in The Intercept about an incident from Biden’s past dating from the Carter administration and having to do with the confirmation process for Carter’s nominee for CIA director.
Ted Sorensen had been a speechwriter for JFK and a Kennedy lawyer during Chappaquiddick, but really had no foreign policy experience. Republicans opposed him, and apparently Biden was privately unenthusiastic as well. But Biden made Sorensen believe he supported him. Then, at the confirmation hearing, Biden blindsided him, tearing into him for once admitting in an affidavit that he and others — get ready — took classified documents home to read. Biden even suggested that Sorensen could be indicted under espionage statutes.
Sorensen agreed to have his nomination withdrawn, later saying Biden should be awarded the “prize for political hypocrisy in a town noted for political hypocrisy.” The irony is rich when reading this story today. We wondered what Sorensen might say about this, but he died in 2010. Too bad he can’t be here now to see that, sometimes, what goes around comes around.
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