Newly elected Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy is criticizing President Joe Biden for his faulty handling of classified documents.
Multiple sets of classified documents were discovered in Biden’s personal possession before the 2022 midterms — with the revelation only coming to light in the media this week.
McCarthy lit up the Department of Justice and the Biden administration while speaking with reporters in the Capitol’s Rotunda on Thursday.
.@SpeakerMcCarthy on Biden classified documents found at two separate locations now: “You watched them leak photos of sitting out files of President Trump. Where’s the photos of President Biden’s documents?…This is what makes Americans not trust their government.” pic.twitter.com/IUQfQOv6rX
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 12, 2023
“You watched them leak photos of sitting out files of President Trump. Where’s the photos of President Biden’s documents?”
“This is what makes Americans not trust their government,” McCarthy said of the double standard applied to Trump’s possession of allegedly classified documents compared to Biden’s.
“You cannot have one form of law because somebody philosophically has a different opinion than you, and you can’t use the Justice Department to go after people that are politically different as well.”
As president, Trump had wide-ranging authority to declassify federal documents as he willed.
As vice president, Biden had such powers only in rare cases (see the clarification note at the bottom of this page). He’s proceeded to offer a series of excuses for his inappropriate storage of the documents, even though he criticized Trump for storing documents he had the power to declassify.
The first documents in question were found on Nov. 2, 2022, according to the White House.
A “small number of documents with classified markings” were discovered in a locked closet in an office associated with the University of Pennsylvania’s Biden Center, where Biden kept his personal records.
The National Archives and Records Administration is said to have taken the documents the next day.
McCarthy called for a congressional investigation into Biden’s handling of the documents and the Justice Department’s actions surrounding them.
Speaker McCarthy on Biden’s stolen classified documents:
“I think Congress has to investigate this.” pic.twitter.com/KsQtUXLmEd
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) January 12, 2023
If anything, the Justice Department’s treatment of Biden’s documents as a mere nothing burger may spell doom for a politicized attempt to railroad Trump into federal prison.
There’s no way that Biden’s Justice Department can present a criminal case against Trump as nonpartisan when thus far they’ve done everything possible to give their own boss a free pass for keeping documents he didn’t have the authority to declassify.
Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to investigate Biden’s handling of inappropriately stored documents on Thursday.
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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