GOP races to suggest Trump equivalency in Biden-linked classified docs

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GOP races to suggest Trump equivalency in Biden-linked classified docs

While House Republicans hustled to use their new majority to launch inquiries, Democrats hammered the differences between the Mar-a-Lago search and the behavior of the president’s team.

House leaders respond to comparisons of Biden, Trump classified docsShare

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By JORDAIN CARNEYKYLE CHENEYMARIANNE LEVINE and NICHOLAS WU

01/10/2023 01:59 PM EST

House Republicans are racing to draw a straight line from newly discovered classified documents found by President Joe Biden’s personal attorneys to the legal jeopardy enveloping former President Donald Trump over his own storage of top-secret material at Mar-a-Lago.

And Democrats aren’t having it.

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Less than 24 hours after Biden attorneys disclosed the November discovery of classified documents from his time as vice president, GOP lawmakers hustled to use their new House majority to launch inquiries into the matter — attempting to equate it to the circumstances behind last year’s FBI search of the Trump residence.

Incoming House Intelligence Chair Mike Turner (R-Ohio) on Tuesday sought a national security damage assessment on the Biden documents, warning that the president may have violated two laws that the Justice Department cited in explaining its Mar-a-Lago search. But Democrats pushed back quickly, contrasting Trump’s monthslong refusal to immediately turn over his documents to the National Archives with the immediate return of the Biden-centric material by the sitting president’s attorneys.

“From what I’ve heard so far, it seems like it’s being handled properly,” Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said. “It seems like they’re all doing it the right way, unlike what happened with President Trump.”

California Rep. Pete Aguilar, the House Democratic caucus chair, echoed that sentiment and slammed the GOP inquiries as “Republican hypocrisy at its finest. When the former president had 320 documents found at his personal residence, they said that ‘that will not be a priority.’ What President Biden did was disclose this to the Archives, let law enforcement know.”

Biden’s party argued that the handling of the matter — by his team, the Archives and DOJ — should increase confidence in the process. The Archives immediately referred the matter to the DOJ, just as it did when classified documents were discovered amid Trump’s files. And the DOJ quickly appointed a U.S. attorney to review the matter.

But House Republicans are eager to use their freshly gained investigative powers against the Biden administration. And the same Republicans who have clambered to defend Trump, called to defund the FBI over the search or shrugged off the controversy about his handling of sensitive national security secrets are now leading the charge to describe the Biden discovery as egregious.

“If then-Vice President Biden took classified documents with him, and held them for years, and criticized former President Trump during that same time that he had those classified documents … I wonder why the press isn’t asking the same questions of him,” House Majority Leader Steve Scalise asked reporters on Tuesday.

Cardin said he wasn’t surprised that Republicans were trying to argue that the two incidents are the same, but “one person handled it right, the other person handled it wrong. … So, intent on criminal issues, particularly, [is] very important.”

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