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On classified docs, GOP fails again to find a parallel for Trump

What Republicans don't seem to realize is that the story about Joe Biden’s classified documents makes Donald Trump look worse, not better.


After the FBI executed a court-approved search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump and many of his Republican allies pushed a curious defense: The former president’s actions weren’t that serious, the argument went, because so many others had done the same thing.

As regular readers might recall, this didn’t go well. Trump’s first push was to draw a connection between his controversy and Hillary Clinton’s emails, though this didn’t work because the stories have so little in common. This led Trump to shift gears and argue that Barack Obama also took classified secrets and clashed with the National Archives. This proved to be utterly bonkers.

Trump also took an interest in George W. Bush’s emails, but the story proved irrelevant. He then tried to argue that George H.W. Bush took sensitive materials to an unsecured former bowling alley, but the entire line of attack quickly collapsed.

The pattern was tough to miss: Trump kept looking for a parallel example that might help diminish the seriousness of his scandal. Every attempt failed spectacularly.

Now, the boys who cried wolf are trying the same move once again. NBC News reported overnight:

A “small number of documents” with classified markings that appear to be from the Obama administration were found at a think tank in Washington tied to President Joe Biden and are under review by the Justice Department and the National Archives, a White House lawyer said Monday. The documents were discovered in a locked closet by Biden’s attorneys days before the midterm elections as they prepared to vacate office space at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, Richard Sauber, special counsel to the president, said in a statement.

The report added that the incumbent Democratic president learned of the materials’ existence when his lawyers told Biden of their discovery.

It didn’t take long for his predecessor to start the process — the one he tried with Clinton, Obama and both Bushes — all over again. “When is the FBI going to raid the many homes of Joe Biden, perhaps even the White House?” Trump asked by way of his social media platform.

Soon after, the Republican started making up new details that he thought sounded interesting and pretended that the claims were real. In one instance last night, for example, Trump insisted that Chinese officials “saw the Classified Documents!” An hour later, he suggested that Biden might’ve “given” the “Highly Classified Documents” to China.

No sensible person could take such nonsense seriously, but Trump’s Republican allies nevertheless picked up on the former president’s general message: House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer said Biden and Trump did “the same thing.”

And just as these talking points failed before, they’re failing again now — because Biden and Trump clearly did not do “the same thing.”

Look, this isn’t complicated, and there’s no reason to play silly games. Trump took hundreds of classified materials to his glorified country club. He ignored requests to return them. He failed to comply with a federal subpoena. He lied repeatedly. He returned some documents, but held onto others, all while refusing to cooperate in good faith. He even proposed a possible trade in which he’d consider giving the documents back, but only if officials gave him something else in return.

To see the Biden story as identical is clearly insane. Based on all of the available information, the Democrat appears to have inadvertently moved a “small number of documents” with classified markings to the Penn Biden Center. The National Archives didn’t request the materials’ return because officials didn’t know they were missing.

Biden’s representatives found the documents and immediately informed the Archives know about the discovery. The materials were then quickly returned to the authorities.

If Trump had done the same thing, he wouldn’t be facing a criminal investigation. It’s not illegal to accidentally have classified documents; it’s illegal to take them and refuse to give them back.

Indeed, the great irony of last night’s hullabaloo is that it gets the bigger picture backwards: What Republicans don't seem to realize is that the story about Biden’s classified documents makes Trump look worse, not better.