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It's Raining Documents

Another day, another cache of classified documents that Joe Biden should not have had. The latest were found during an FBI search of the President's residence in Delaware.

The latest discovery, and fourth overall, involves a total of six documents. The material was located among many thousands of pages of documents, some of which date back to Biden's time in the U.S. Senate. That is to say, some of the material is at least 14 years old, and its ongoing presence in the President's residence must surely be accidental. Beyond this, nothing else was made public about the documents, including information the specific contents or the level of classification.

At this point, there are many parallels between the Biden documents and the Trump documents. To wit:

If someone was not paying close attention, or if someone had motive to draw an equivalence between the two situations, it would be easy to equate Biden's actions with Trump's actions. However, as we have pointed out many times, the key to the whole matter is not having the documents, per se. Accidents happen with classified material. In fact, they happen all the time, because there is so much classified stuff, and so many people have access to it. As we've noted, there are 1.3 million people with security clearances in the U.S. If just one in a thousand of them screwed up over the course of a year, and those screw-ups were criminal, then the government would be prosecuting 3.5 people every day. As if the federal courts are not already backlogged enough.

And so, things don't become criminal until there is either gross negligence, or there is clear intent to commit an illegal act, like sell secrets to a foreign power or obstruct the government in its efforts to regain its property. That very key dimension is where the Biden and Trump situations remain night-and-day different. Biden has invariably self-reported when documents were found, and the search that led to the newest discovery was conducted with his consent. Trump tried to hide his document-stealing, even when he was called out on it by the National Archives, and the search of Mar-a-Lago was only possible at the business end of a federal warrant.

That said, just because the Trump situation is very clearly much more problematic than the Biden situation doesn't mean that the White House will be able to persuade the American people that is the case, especially with the Fox propaganda mill running 24/7. It also further complicates the decisions that AG Merrick Garland will, one day, have to make. It shouldn't complicate those decisions, as the law is what it is, but it will complicate them, because the AG is clearly concerned about appearances. And so, the odds that Biden's errors become a Get Out of Jail Free card for Trump continue to get better for the former president. (Z)

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