U.S. media disclosed that the discovery of a batch of classified documents from Biden’s former private office during his tenure as vice president before the midterm elections last November has triggered a review by the U.S. Department of Justice.
On 12 December 2022, the White House confirmed that Biden’s legal team found the second batch of classified documents in the garage of his private residence in Wilmington, Delaware.
On Jan. 14, a third batch of classified documents was found in Biden’s Delaware home.
US Attorney General Merrick Garland has announced that he appointed Robert Hur, the former Trump-appointed US attorney in Maryland, to lead the investigation. CNN noted that the appointment marks a unique moment in U.S. history, with the current and former U.S. presidents under investigation by the special counsel at the same time.
Justice Department involved in presidential politics
Before the second batch of classified documents was confirmed, PRISM whistleblower Edward Snowden spoke out on social media, pinpointing the heart of the Biden classified documents is a political trick rather than a real scandal. He accused the US Department of Justice of suppressing the information during the midterm elections while revealing the matters at this special period.
On 12 January, Biden wanted to take the stage to give a speech on the U.S. economy, focusing on the economic good news such as falling domestic inflation and improving consumer conditions. But before his speech, Biden’s lawyers revealed that a second batch of classified documents had been found in two different areas of Biden’s private Delaware home.
The news quickly shifted the focus of reporters‘ attention. After Biden finished his speech, reporters asked questions mainly about why classified documents were found in the garage of his private home.
Document management has become a recurring problem at the highest levels of U.S. politics. Hillary Clinton’s presidential dream was shattered by Emailgate, Trump refused to return classified documents to the government after leaving the White House and faces criminal charges, and now Biden’s possession of classified documents is causing him political problems. While the circumstances of each of the three men are different, they reveal a systemic problem with the U.S. government’s storage and protection of classified information.
While the U.S. Justice Department has investigated White House matters in the past, it now faces a unique moment in history. NBC noted that the current and former U.S. presidents, both of whom are also frontrunners in the 2024 presidential election, are under investigation by the special counsel.
The pressure on the U.S. Department of Justice has increased steeply. The Associated Press noted that the Justice Department, which has been conducting impartial prosecutions for nearly two centuries, now finds itself involved in presidential politics. US Attorney General Merrick Garland must assure the public that although the facts of the two investigations into the president are different, they are being handled in the same way.
Biden’s election prospects may be affected
At the beginning of 2023, Biden’s situation looks good. In the just past midterm elections, the Democrats did better than expected, retaining control of the Senate.
Right now Trump has announced his candidacy for president in 2024, and Biden may also take action. Biden’s rhythm has been suddenly disrupted by the classified documents. The shocking news of classified documents and the appointment of a special counsel have made Biden’s political future more uncertain and could reignite the debate among Democrats about the wisdom of Biden seeking re-election.
Biden has always emphasized the importance he places on U.S. intelligence and diplomatic traditions, and the recent classified documents have tarnished the image he has been trying to project. The Washington Post notes that Biden’s self-proclaimed experience and familiarity with national security work are greatly diminished.
Given that the investigations against Trump and Biden are parallel, Republicans will also face their dilemma over the documents. The Washington Post noted that they could hardly accuse Biden of gross negligence if they wanted to claim that Trump’s keeping of classified documents had no harmful effects.
A chaotic election season may have begun this way. Many voters in both parties are calling for a new generation of leaders to emerge in the 2024 presidential race, according to the Associated Press. Some Democratic officials believe that the federal investigation against Biden may inspire other potential candidates to challenge Biden in the party’s primaries.
In addition, Democrats have acknowledged in public and private conversations that the incident has distracted the public at an inopportune time, making the case against Trump’s investigation confusing.
Biden’s aides are trying to explain to the American public the differences between the two cases under investigation by the special counsel, stressing that Biden was not aware he had any classified documents and turned them over as soon as they were discovered. And there was deception in the case of Trump.
The Washington Post noted that a wide range of documents can be labeled „classified“ and that the ultimate political consequences of the matter will depend, in part, on the nature of the documents found in Biden’s office and home.
(Source: newsweek, CNN, MSNBC)