What is it with Presidents and Classified Documents?

By Paul Gable

According to a Monday story by CBS News, classified documents were found at an office used by President Biden, when he was out of office and a private citizen between 2017-2019, at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C.

The Washington Post reported that the White House Counsel’s Office notified the National Archives when the documents were discovered and the agency “quickly took control” of the documents.

Richard Sauber, special counsel to President Biden, was quoted as saying, “The documents were discovered when the president’s personal attorneys were packing files housed in a locked closet to prepare to vacate the office space…” Sauber also noted the documents “were not the subject of any previous request or inquiry by the Archives.” As if that makes it okay.

This latest revelation of classified documents found at a private location used by a former vice president of the United States, before he was elected president, comes after the discovery of classified documents stored at Mar a Lago and other storage locations by former President Donald Trump. In this instance, the documents found at Mar a Lago and other locations had already been demanded to be returned by the Archives. A special prosecutor is looking into possible obstruction or other criminal violations by Trump and/or his associates with respect to the classified documents.

An interesting spin is being put on the revelation about the Biden classified documents discovery in that it “looks like a routine matter with no allegation of criminal wrongdoing,” according to comments by national security lawyer Bradley Moss to the Insider. According to the story, Moss told the insider classified documents are routinely misplaced.

Now wait a darn minute! Why in the Hell do we classify them if they can be “routinely misplaced”? In full disclosure, I held a TS/SCI clearance for the 10 years I served in the U.S. Navy. It was pounded into our heads, all of us that were working with such sensitive materials, that we were responsible for all classified documents we were working with and those documents had to be turned over to the possession of another similarly cleared individual, signed logs were maintained, or the documents had to be stored in a secure, approved locked safe when we left the area. It was certainly not okay to routinely remove or misplace them!

There is no difference between Trump having classified documents in his possession at Mar a Lago after his term in office ended and Biden having in his possession, or misplacing, classified documents at an office he used after his term as vice president ended. There is no excuse for either Trump or Biden being so casual in the handling and improper storage of classified documents and their Republican or Democrat allies cannot excuse either.

Title 18 US Code para 1924 says that any officer of the United States who becomes possessed of documents or materials containing classified materials of the United States, knowingly removes such documents or materials…with the intent to retain such documents and materials at an unauthorized location shall be fined, imprisoned or both.

Both Biden and Trump apparently broke the language and intent of the law and both should certainly be investigated to determine if the law was broken and prosecuted if it was. Any other citizen of the United States certainly would be if the same were discovered of them.

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