Going to start with. President Biden’s lawyer is finding a small number of classified documents during h as vice president in his former private office. That happened last fall on Novem They found it.
As a matter of fact, the documents were discovered in a lot closet at the PEN Biden Center in Washi And Biden appears to be cooperating with the National Archives Who referred the matter to the Justice Department.
For further investigation. And Republicans have seized on the revelations. But to be clear, there are distinctions between what we know about this and Donald Trump’s hoarding of secret records at Ma Here’s what the president told.
CBS 60 Minutes back in September when asked abo When you saw the photograph of the top secret documents laid out on the floor of Mar a L what did you think to yourself? Looking at that image, how how that could possibly happen,.
How one any one could be that irresponsible. So to start us off, we want to bring in now CNN’s se legal affairs correspondent, Pau Paula, good morning. An unusual How did this happen? Unusual, indeed. Don, good morning.
Well, these materials were discovered by a lawyer for President Biden on November 2nd. We learned that they were in the of closing out a Washington, D.C based office that Biden used when he worked as an honorary pr.
From about 20. 17 to 20. 19. Now, they say they uncovered fewer than a dozen classified do at the office, but it’s unclear what they pertain to or why they were in this office. Now, when these materials were discovered, the White House counsel’s office notified.
The National Archives. They took possession of the mate were told the following morning. But Attorney General Merrick Gar he is assigned the U.S. attorney in Chicago to review this matter and conduct a damage assessment. Now, Don, it’s.
Interesting that he is one of only two curre Trump holdover U.S. attorneys still serving. The other is a Delaware U.S. attorney who is leading an investigation into the president’s son. Biden in a statement,.
Biden’s attorney says they are cooperati with the archives and the Department of Justice. But there’s a lot more we still need to know about how these materials ended up the how certain they are that these are the only ones.
And of course, how secure were these documents while they were in this office? Okay. So, Paula, speaking of differences, can you lay out the differences between this and the Mar a Lago document issu.
It’s a great question, Don. So based on what Biden’s team is they are setting up some key dif from the Trump case. The first one is just the volume of materials that we’re talking about. At this point, the Biden matter, we’re dealing.
Less than a dozen documents versus the hundreds in the Trump Another big difference is cooper Biden’s lawyers say they immediately cooperated. They turned over the documents they discovered and that they continue to cooper with the Justice Department.
When it comes to Trump. There was months of back and for where he refused and ignored the government requests and really only handed over many of the documents when subpoenas were obtained. The other big difference at this point is obstruction.
Biden is not under investigation for potential obstruction. Trump is as well as being under invest for potential violations of the Espionage Act. So at this point, Mar-A-Lago app to be a much more complex investigation,.
A more complex set of legal issu But on the Biden matter, it’s only come to light in the past 24 hours, and we’ll continue to report it Former President Trump is also under investigatio for possibly mishandling that classified info.
This is going to be politicized. I imagine it is already been pol By those on the right and the former president. How is he reacting? Well, the former president, he posted on his truth social platform asking, quote, When is the FBI going to raid.
The many homes of Joe Biden, perhaps even the White House? These documents were definitely not declassified Now, that term raid, that is a term that his legal te has been chastised by a federal judge for using because he is referring.
To a duly executed search warran that was carried out over the summer after information was obtained the documents were being moved. But interestingly, I spoke with a member of his legal team last night and they think the Biden case.
Actually helps their defense. They say, look, this just illustrates the proble with overclassification and gove But they’re also watching these very closely. They’re looking for any differen in the handling of the two probe as they argue.
The Justice Department has made the Mar a Lago matter more contentious than necessary. But but we’ll see. Again, we’ve been covering Mar a for a lot longer and Don, if it’s one thing I’ve learned over the past.
Seven years of covering various very high profile offici who may or may not have mishandl classified information, these things are never simple. Joining us is national security and security clearance law expert Bradley Moss.
He is a deputy executive director of the James Madison Pr Bradley. Good morning to you. Thank you so You heard Caitlin and Paula discussing this. You say that these are two completely different cases.
Can you put that into context fo What do you mean by that? Sure. Don and Paula kind of teed it up a little bit there for me. The distinction here is not nece that there was the unauthorized of these documents. Even a single document.
Is a potential criminal issue where the Biden team has diverged here, at least so far, based on what we know from the r is the cooperation and the absence of obstruction in which they have engaged compared to what Donald Trump di.
Remember, Donald Trump dragged it out for months to comply with Nara when the first batch of classified records were found. He fired the fort an hour a bunch in terms of stuff being handled over to DOJ. Then they obstructed the subpoen.
They provided the false sworn declaration, etc., etc. leading up to finally that search warrant execution at Mar a Lago in Augus That is a clear distinction from what the Biden team here di They found records. They immediately contact Nara.
They turn them over the next mor in compliance with the protocols That’s what you’re supposed to d But one started this an investig asking for the documents back, and the other one was discovered by the very person who had them, their own people. Correct. There is a that’s a major distin.
That’s also a separate distincti Yes, absolutely, Don. And in the Espionage Act provisi that a lot of us have always been referencing that was referenced in the search warrant from Mar a One of the key issues is failure to return.
The unauthorized retained docume when confronted and sought from the authorized government p That’s what happened with Donald They asked for them back and he was obstructing and fighting them on it. That never happened here with Jo Now, obviously,.
If there’s more documents to com if there are if there’s evidence of obstructi that does ultimately emerge in the Biden case, that would be a different issue. But so far, it’s completely apples to oranges her Okay.
So is there any could he face any sort of consequences for having these these documents even if he says he didn’t know about them? Realistically, no. And by and large, for the most part, when it comes to unauthorized.
Retention cases, the government doesn’t like to bring criminal cases. Usually it’s very complicated. They have to have all kinds of classified discovery. It’s usually an administrative m once they’ve secured the documen Joe Biden is now the president.
There’s no administrative mechan to take against him, just like there never would have been one against Dona while he was president. He’s exempt from all that. So the only way Joe Biden can really get in trouble is if he or a staff on his behal.
Obstruct the investigation. And so far, there isn’t appear to be any evidence of that. Gotcha. Bradley Moss, thank you so much.