John Yoo, former deputy assistant attorney general, recently weighed in on both classified documents cases involving President Biden and former President Donald Trump. Biden and Trump are both facing investigations into the alleged mishandling of classified materials.
While Biden and Trump’s cases are not critical differences, Yoo argues, “The rule of law and the Constitution demands that similar cases be treated in a similar way.”
The investigation into Trump began in August with the FBI raid of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. The inquiry into Biden’s actions started with the first batch found in Biden’s private office in the Penn Biden Center on November 2, 2022. The discovery was not publicly revealed until January of this year, followed by multiple batches located at the President’s Wilmington, Delaware home.
Differences between Trump and Biden investigations
“Now, there are some differences. First of all, with Biden, we don’t even know what all the facts are yet. Every time it sounds like his lawyers or the FBI or someone from the White House Counsel’s office takes a look, somewhere Biden has a property, they find more classified documents,” said Yoo. “So, we still don’t even know the full story there. President Trump also kept documents. One thing that is different is that [it] sounds like, so far, President Trump has had a lot more. And, of course, President Trump fought more with the government in terms of turning them over.”
Yoo’s comments come as reports have emerged that claim the Justice Department retrieved six additional classified records from the President’s home after an FBI search on Friday. Some documents date to Biden’s tenure as vice president, while others are from his tenure in the Senate.
The group of documents is the fourth to be found since the first batch was located in November. It is the third bunch to be found at the President’s residence.
“On the other hand, what we need to know is what was the harm to the national security? Where did these documents — where were they all this time? How did they get there? And most important, from a damage perspective, who had access to them? It might be the case that Trump’s holding the documents is of less of a harm to the national security. They seem to be in a locked basement room with cameras and personnel on them, whereas Biden’s are next to his car, in a locked garage in one place, then in a locked closet in another place, and then in his home in another place. That might be more of a threat to national security because more people might have had access to them,” said Yoo.
“[Congress] need to get to the bottom of this” and “figure out why does this keep on happening? Because we should also mention a third person who I think went far beyond either of these cases in their violation of the handling of classified information and the harm to our national security, which was Hillary Clinton, who was running all the classified emails from the State Department through her — that went to her through a private unsecured computer server. So, let Congress have an investigation of all three of those cases. Let’s get the facts, and then the Justice Department will have to be sure that they’re treating all the cases fairly.”
A report by the State Department summarizing an administration review of how classified information was handled by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her use of her private email server to conduct government business found 38 individuals at fault, with more than 500 security violations, from the more than 30,000 emails able to be physically reviewed by the State Department.