Classified documents Biden, Trump: Could this all be partisan hype?

Classified documents Biden, Trump: Could this all be partisan hype?

Let’s start with the suggestion that there is a lot of hypocrisy on both sides.

When it was discovered that Donald Trump had brought hundreds of classified documents to Mar-a-Lago, the media outcry was deafening. The press and the Democrats practically showed that he was ready to sell them to the highest bidder. The usual parade of legal experts argued that he should be indicted.

Republicans and conservatives, for their part, argued that this was no big deal or tried to avoid talking about the Trump documents. And many agreed with the former president’s argument that the FBI should not have “raided” his Florida estate (even though he had a court order).

Then Joe Biden, who criticized Trump’s handling of secrets as “irresponsible”, was found to be careless and sloppy with classified documents. Biden’s team sat on the story for two months and released incomplete and misleading statements. There was a Keystone Kops routine where new documents were constantly being released. The FBI finally conducted a 13-hour search of the President’s Wilmington home last Friday – something the White House did not make public until Saturday night.

Biden, Pence and Donald Trump are under intense scrutiny over the discovery of classified documents at their personal properties.

Biden, Pence and Donald Trump are under intense scrutiny over the discovery of classified documents at their personal properties.
(Associated Press)

FROM RON KLAIN TO JEFF ZIENTS, WHY BIDEN’S NEW PRIVATE STAFF WAS MUCH LESS VISIBLE

Suddenly, Republicans who weren’t really interested in Trump’s document woes were treating this as a five-alarm national security crisis. Biden’s actions were shocking and unacceptable, especially since the documents were dated from his VP and Senate days.

This time it was the Democrats’ turn to play defense. Biden played by the rules. It was his lawyers who found the initial documents, notified the Department of Justice and the National Archives and voluntarily turned them over.

Any attempt to compare this to Trump, who insists he has a right to keep the documents, is ridiculous.

But there was one group that didn’t play with them. The media turned against Biden because his members felt played, misled and stonewalled. The reporters seemed frantic as they searched for answers.

THE REPUBLICAN DEBATE? IS TRUMP TWEETING? THE MEDIA COULD BE BACK IN THE GAME

To take one example, when the White House confirmed the initial CBS scoop about the first batch of documents found at the Penn Biden Center, officials already knew that the second batch had been found at Wilmington. But they said nothing, and when news of the second batch broke, it smelled like a coverup. (This was many batches ago.)

Merrick Garland has named special counsels, as he should, to investigate the two presidents. But what struck some of Biden’s allies as deaf was when he finally read a statement saying he had “no regrets” about anything he did. Seriously? Given the drip-drip-drip of revelations — making it unlikely Trump will be charged with anything — does the president have nothing to regret? Would it make people more sympathetic to say, we succeeded, but we were trying to do the right thing?

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland delivers remarks at the U.S. Department of Justice Building on November 18, 2022, in Washington, DC.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland delivers remarks at the U.S. Department of Justice Building on November 18, 2022, in Washington, DC.
(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Yesterday’s announcement that Mike Pence found classified documents at his home in Indiana will bring a national shrug: They all do it.

The National Review’s Jim Geraghty says he knows his audience will be offended by his largely conservative audience: “Any Joe Biden classified document scandal is mostly.”

But the next sentence comes from him: “So was Donald Trump’s classified document scandal.” The massive double standards in the media that we have observed in covering both cases, however, are nothing; they are a real problem that we should call out.”

Geraghty’s bottom line: “Neither case, looked objectively, was a huge deal. Biden should be investigated at least as long as Trump, but no one breathing seriously believes that either man is an Emirati agent And, after Big Jim Comey essentially made possession of classified information an active intent crime — at least for Special Persons — during Hillary Clinton’s Great Email Wars of 2016, there’s a 0.000 percent chance that either will be prosecuted for his indiscretions.”

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Former United States President Donald Trump raises his fist as he walks to a vehicle outside Trump Tower in New York City on August 10, 2022.

Former United States President Donald Trump raises his fist as he walks to a vehicle outside Trump Tower in New York City on August 10, 2022.
(STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)

I disagree with Geraghty on one key point. Yes, the media initially failed to “see nothing here mode,” arguing that Trump’s mess was far worse than Biden’s. Yes, they may be starting to return to their usual corners. Yes, partisan commentators like James Carville and Lawrence O’Donnell say the media is so worried about looking soft on the left that they put Democratic scandals in false equivalence mode.

But when I watched CBS’ Ed O’Keefe and NBC’s Kristen Welker, along with Fox’s Peter Doocy, hammer Karine Jean-Pierre as the designated sacrificial lamb, I rarely saw a level aggressiveness in coverage of the Biden presidency.

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Since the beginning of the republic, each party has fought the other’s scandals. House Republicans are preparing to do just that. There are cases in history where leaders held their own side accountable, but that may be a relic of less polarized times.

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