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opinion | Biden’s documents case should not hinder Jack Smith’s investigation into Trump


Special Counsel Robert K. Hur’s assignment to investigate how classified documents ended up in President Biden’s office at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement and his home in Delaware has led to speculation that the Justice Department is now less will swiftly prosecute former President Donald Trump for his deliberate retention of classified documents.

This is wrong – or at least it should be. Nothing about the Biden investigation should get in the way of the Justice Department’s investigation into Trump. Indeed, it would be a miscarriage of justice for politicians to color the Trump investigation.

It could easily be argued that Biden’s lawyers handled the fallout from their discovery of classified documents at Biden’s office badly. But their actions in no way appear to be an attempt to conceal or improperly withhold documents.

As The Post reported last week, Biden’s legal team tried to do everything by the book. Biden’s lawyers “followed a strategy of caution and deference, taking only limited steps in collaboration with federal investigators to determine the number of documents involved, their meaning and how they were mishandled. They hoped this would gain the trust of investigators, avoid comparisons with former President Donald Trump, who is under federal criminal investigation for his own mishandling of classified material, and bring the case to a swift end.

But Biden’s team made two mistakes. First, they did not proactively search for other documents. The Justice Department sent a letter asking, as The Post reported, Biden’s legal team to “safeguard the Penn Biden Center materials and to refrain from further reviewing them or any other relevant documents that may be locations could be saved”. But the letter not continue to stop searching for documents. And the not say the Biden team should refuse to hire anyone with an authorization that could review the documents. By slowing down their own search and continuing piecemeal, Biden’s lawyers reinforced the impression that they were dragging their feet.

Second, the lawyers ignored the political implications of their behavior in order to placate the Justice Department. The lawyers seem to have thought they could clear everything up before it became public. That was a naive assumption in the current political climate.

In fact, there is no indication that Biden’s team could have done anything to prevent the appointment of special counsel. Attorney General Merrick Garland has said from the start that one of his top priorities — if not the top priority — was to restore the integrity of the Justice Department. That has unfortunate consequences for the Biden administration: Given the ongoing investigation of documents found at Trump’s estate in Mar-a-Lago, any indication of mishandling of classified material by Biden would make the need for special counsel virtually inescapable. to make.

Unfortunately, all of this is hard to grasp for the public, who clearly fail to understand the fundamental differences between the Trump and Biden investigations. A Quinnipiac poll shows that nearly 40 percent of Americans think Biden should be prosecuted — despite the lack of any evidence that he knew he had the documents.

Nevertheless, the public’s confusion should not affect the evaluation of Special Counsel Jack Smith, who is leading the investigation into Trump’s situation. Unlike Biden, Trump presided over the movement of the documents; personally reviewed; failed to return the documents despite subpoenas and then allowed his lawyers to falsely claim that he no longer possessed classified documents; and made numerous statements claiming he had a right to keep them. It should be easy to prove “gross negligence” and to show the aggravating factors needed to pursue his case, such as obstruction.

The White House may be angry with Garland’s decision to appoint special counsel to investigate Biden, but that should be temporary. Given the facts that are known, Biden should be “exonerated” within a reasonable time frame as Jack Smith independently considers whether to indict Trump.

That’s as it should be. We simply cannot accept a system that entraps anyone attempting to collaborate with detectives while allowing a megalomaniac former president to walk away with top secret documents without dire consequences.

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