There’s an understandable compulsion in the media and among Democrats to emphasize the differences between Joe Biden’s classified documents scandal and Donald Trump’s.
The two cases are different in many important respects.
The most significant is obviously that the former president refused to cooperate with the National Archives and Justice Department until a search of his home was deemed necessary.
Meanwhile, Biden’s team has endeavored to highlight the fact they’ve been very cooperative, inviting various searches, including of his home last week — which revealed even more documents with classified markings, reportedly dating back to his days in the Senate.
That’s all fine. But there are two similarities that can’t be “messaged” away.
The first similarity has been widely discussed in the press and conceded by many of the president’s most ardent Democratic supporters: He had stuff he shouldn’t have had in places they didn’t belong.
Yes, Trump had more documents and possibly more sensitive ones. But the underlying misdeed is the same.
The second similarity has largely gone unnoticed, as the Daily Beast’s Matt Lewis has noted well. Very much like Trump, Joe Biden has a very difficult time admitting error.
Last week, Biden said he had “no regrets” regarding the classified document mess. Exactly one year earlier, he said, “I make no apologies” for how he pulled U.S. forces out of Afghanistan.
This was after he’d assured the public that the withdrawal would be secure and orderly.
”There’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of (an) embassy of the United States from Afghanistan,” he said. “It is not at all comparable (to Vietnam).”
On a human level, never mind as a matter of common sense, it’s impossible to believe that Biden had no regrets about Afghanistan or how this classified document mess has unfolded.
And as a political matter, this has been a fiasco. Does anyone believe he doesn’t wince every time he sees that “60 Minutes” clip of himself being shocked at Trump’s “irresponsible” handling of classified material?
Has the White House’s response really been flawless? On Jan. 12, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre assured the public that “the search (for documents) is complete.” That was before more documents showed up in his home and garage.
Biden’s stubbornness is only part of the problem. No doubt lawyers and political advisers are reinforcing his instinct not give an inch to the press.
After the post-Afghanistan withdrawal press conference, Biden asked a friend how he did. The friend said “great.” Biden replied, “Yeah, but the press is going to kill me,” Biden said, “I’m f--- — no matter what I say.”
There’s also the larger political culture in which partisans believe any admission that bolsters the enemy is intolerable.
Indeed, Biden is hardly the first politician to struggle with admitting mistakes. Donald Trump took it to cartoonish extremes.
”I fully think apologizing is a great thing, but you have to be wrong ...,” he once said. “I will absolutely apologize sometime in the distant future if I’m ever wrong.”
I’ve long thought that Trump’s insistence that his infamous call with the president of Ukraine was “perfect” helped drive the effort to impeach him. Politically, claims of perfection enrage critics and proving imperfection is a lot easier than proving an admitted mistake was an impeachable outrage.
Therein lies Biden’s opportunity. As Lewis notes, “Biden was elected to be the opposite of Trump.”
That’s why Biden frequently falls back on one of his favorite folksy rhetorical refrains: promising to “always level with the American people and tell it to you straight.”
Biden would be much better off if followed his own advice — and I don’t just mean saying “mistakes were made.”
It would be much easier to argue that what he did isn’t as bad as what Trump did, if first he admitted his own missteps (and not for nothing: The legal standard isn’t “Is this worse than what Trump did?” but “does this violate the law?”).
Saying he has no regrets is not very different from saying what he did was perfect.
And Biden’s handwaving dismissal that “People know I take classified documents and classified information seriously” isn’t very far from Trump’s favorite lead-in for all kinds of groundless assertions: “Everybody knows...”
Either Biden is lying about telling it straight or he honestly believes he is. If it’s the latter, then he’s delusional.
I think there’s a deep hunger among voters for politicians to admit mistakes. Biden ran for office promising transparency, honesty, competence and normalcy. The way he’s handled this documents mess breaks all of those promises.
Trump packed his boxes, Biden and Pence didn’t. My guess. Biden and Pence’s Classified Documents still in boxes. Trump’s strewn all over Mar-a-Lago, closets, office, bedroom. Trump took them purposely, Biden and Pence didn’t. And I understand that facts don’t matter to the “base”.
It's driving the Dems crazy: Trump's and Biden's misadventures in classified documents are two sides of the same coin. (Is it possible for coin to have three sides, Mike?) The respective lists of Trump-Biden personality flaws are lengthy and disturbingly similar. Neither man will be bringing the potato salad to the Mensa picnic. And both find no fat sweeter than that which sticks to their own bones. Both are prone to lying when it suits their needs - and even when it does not. Biden in particular has completely fabricated large swaths his past so often it's likely he (alone) now believes his many contrivances himself. Each man is essentially disagreeable, thin skinned and short of temper. Most egregious, both Trump and Biden have enriched themselves through manifold dubious and unethical shenanigans. Obviously Trump has been measurably more "successful" than Biden in this regard, yet here again they each occupy opposite sides of the same coin. What were the chances of America consecutively electing two such deeply flawed and utterly unsavory men president?
So what the Republibans want to do for America is to drive the Dems crazy? Is that in the Constitution or the Rule of Law or in the 2nd Amendment? This is how far away the Republibans have strayed from “Liberty and Justice for ALL”. In only 28 years. Be proud veritas and Boomer. I liked you better when you pretended to be “Super Patriots”.
Seems like we rattled the cages (brains) again of the supporters of the democratic supporters of FC..
Sorry Sen. Biden took classified material from the SCIF and thus that is a crime... these documents were no accidental misplacement... the others as VP just plain arrogance to the law by Biden... at least Trump had the authority to declassify which there is no written procedure for or forms to fill out, the POTUS can just declare it that is his and only his authority. Pence and Bush, Cheney, Clinton, they all could have documents that is why they are all scrambling because Trump can by law defy the Archives by his own authority granted to him by the Constitution... so liberals can spin however you want that dog doesn't hunt!
Come on, tim, that’s not even close to being true, and you should know that. Didn’t you have a clearance as a missile technician? We have no idea what all of the documents classification levels were for the documents found in Biden’s, Pence’s, or Trumps homes were, and we may never know. Not every classified document requires a SCIF. You are aware that the calendars of the President and VP are classified? That visit briefing documents, such as visit briefings, are classified? Such documents give a bio of the person they were going to meet, and any particular information about that person. Should that only be read in a SCIF? No, and that’s nonsense. These aren’t the nuclear launch codes, or other top secret documents (the highest of which requires a SCIF). Furthermore, the president does not have the authority to declassify a document just by wishing it so. There is a process that is followed, which includes informing the affected originating office. Did Trump do that? Nope. Didn’t follow the process. BTW, the VP also has such authority. Anyone, not just the few that you cherry-picked above, could have classified documents (I am assuming you are referring to VP Dick Cheney) in their possession if they had clearance.
So, that's the best you can do, tim? Make gratuitous assertions that were easily refuted with the facts? You never had a clearance, did you?
gabe, Yes, I suspect that is indeed the very best he can do. SAD!
Yes I had TS SCI with Poly etc... again nice try stick to your profession and you will be okay...
You still haven't supported your argument, or refuted mine, tim. Not all classified documents require a SCIF. Congress gets an exemption to the restriction of possession law.
Keep trying... keep spinning... too serious but for you I laugh..
your link does not pertain to POTUS...
Did you actually read the law, tim? The point is that your assertion that (all) classified documents in a SCIF is false. Maybe what you had did, with TS clearance, but not all documents are marked TS or higher, right. Furthermore, any congresscritter with clearance has access to classified documents (see my link). We also don't know what the contents of the documents found in Trump, Biden, or Pence's homes are, because after all, it's classified. The same goes for any congress member sitting on committee requiring clearance. Let's just wait for the investigation to finish before we start declaring that so.eone is in a ton of trouble. If they have calendars or meeting briefing documents (classified), nobody's in trouble. Don't be taken in by the political hype.
gab = Good point. Classifid documents are not all from other locations (like library books) and often are produced on the spot and even passed around before classified markings are added. There is a basic misconception of these documents and how they have been managed. Your correction s welcomed.
Thanks, Gary. Some people would rather make a tribal point rather than learning and telling the truth.
Former president Donald JOHN Trump said he could declassify documents just by thinking about it. As a conservative, do you agree that “thinking about it” with no paper trail is sufficient to to protect our nation’s most important secrets us satisfactory?
As a conservative, I do not.
Me neither, public.
Well that is how he chose to do it and it is legal... yes i would love a better paper trail, but as potus not required...
It isn’t clear that ‘thinking about it” is legal. What makes you think it is?
The US Archives do not tell the potus what is authority is with classified documents authority that is in the Constitution and other security regs...folks may not like that, but Archives personnel are just gov employees. They do not have any authority
Boomer: Just curious, but what is a 631B? If it was a MOS, I was a 971B40 and started as a 971 when they changed the numbers. I find a 631, but am not so sure it was the only one: "631 Intelligence NCO." I expect I am quite wrong.
631 was the USS Grant ballistic nuc sub, The b stands for blue crew, I was a missile technician with top secret... after the navy my clearance was elevated to TS SCI with Poly for additional work I was engaged with both US and UK DoD MoD I still hold that active clearance at this time and was a nuclear safety and security officer as collateral duties... so I am quite versed in this classified dic scandal and the differences among the varoius players andehat Constitution articles and federal regulations and laws are in play... find it quite interesting that some have no idea the trouble biden is in compared to trump who had legal authority to declassify what and how... thete is no formal process he trump hadto follow... that is what drives folks crazy not to mention the taking of docs when a senator is quite intentional because they must go thru all kinds of process forms before seeing, or hearing, or getting access to materials.
Thank you. I appreciate your service.
Thank you gary
One party is guilty of obstruction. The other has fully cooperated.
No mention of Pence?
C’mon man, he’s in die kak as well.
I suspect the column was written pre-Pence.
I am curious about what triggered anyone looking for documents in the first place - either Trump or Biden
In Trump case the National Archives knew Trump didn’t return the documents and asked him to return them. He choose not to. His refusal to do so, continues to evolve. In bought Biden and Pence cases the documents were discovered when their lawyers were going through files. The Archives wasn’t aware they were missing. They voluntarily reported the discrepancy to the Archives and returned the documents.
With Biden, i seems that they were closing the office and just found them. By accident. Or so it seems.
President Bush (the first one) once said "I do not want to make the wrong mistake ..." (as if there is a right mistake?) and I have to agree that President biden needs to admit to his mistakes.
But what mistake and how to fix it. perhaps we need an investigation to learn more and see how the President was "surprised." Then he can respond.
Otherwise, it is just an exercise in public relations without any meaning that I can see.
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