Republicans and Trump supporters thought they had the perfect “gotcha.” The perfect “whataboutism.” They thought they did, until they realized they didn’t.
A report from CBS News got picked up quickly by Fox News and other Trump-friendly “news” outlets and the talking heads went to work.
“On November 2nd, lawyers for President Biden, lawyers who work for him in his present capacity, were reportedly packing up the office space the vice president used at the Penn Biden Center,” CBS reported. “In so doing, they found classified documents there. Classified documents they say, were locked inside those offices, mixed in with some non-classified documents. This is, of course, a weird set of circumstances, but that is what they say happened. The White House has since confirmed the basis of this account, as has news organizations after CBS News was first to break the story.”
Right wing outlets immediately pounced on the story — for a little while, at least. Then the story just went “poof” and died. Why? Because it wasn’t the gotcha or whataboutism that they needed it to be in order to be able to point fingers. There was no crime, or even the likely potential of a crime. And worst of all, Biden and his team did the right thing, without hesitation.
National security lawyer Bradley Moss took to Twitter to note that the story is drawing a stark contrast with Trump.
In particular, he cited a statement from Richard Sauber, special counsel to the president, who said that “that on the same day the material was discovered, Nov. 2, the White House counsel’s office notified the National Archives, which took possession of the materials the following morning.”
“The White House is cooperating with the National Archives and the Department of Justice regarding the discovery of what appear to be Obama-Biden Administration records, including a small number of documents with classified markings,” Sauber said in a statement. “The documents were discovered when the President’s personal attorneys were packing files housed in a locked closet to prepare to vacate office space at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C. The President periodically used this space from mid-2017 until the start of the 2020 campaign. On the day of this discovery, November 2, 2022, the White House Counsel’s Office notified the National Archives. The Archives took possession of the materials the following morning.”
“This is how you properly deal with this matter. Not lies, concealment and obstruction,” said Moss.
He added, “If you can’t grasp the difference between finding improperly stored classified docs that you immediately turn over to NARA vs. obstructing and lying in a federal investigation regarding improperly stored classified docs, I cannot help you,”
Allison Gill, the Mueller She Wrote podcaster, had a concise argument that showed there was “no crime” committed here, despite the need of one to be there in Trump and his supporters’ eyes.
Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti explained that he knows the U.S. Attorney that has been assigned to this and knows him to be “smart, fair, and has good judgment.”
“I don’t expect charges here. Biden didn’t know he had these documents and returned them when they were found. If Trump did the same, he wouldn’t be in hot water,” said Mariotti.
All that truth probably won’t stop some bomb throwers like Jim Jordan, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Matt Gaetz from trying to make some false equivalent hay out of it, but for the rest of the world, the difference is pretty clear and obvious. One person lied and deceived — and continues to seemingly do so, and one person owned it and immediately did the right thing. And one doesn’t have to be an expert in anything besides reality to know which person did what.