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ANALYSIS | Storm of classified documents found at Pence's house could be good news for Biden and Trump


The discovery of classified documents at Pence's Indiana home eased Biden's difficulty in explaining that he himself possessed such material from his own vice presidency. But they could also serve former President Donald Trump. 

Details of the discovery of classified documents at Pence's house 5:17

(CNN) --

Former Vice President Mike Pence has clear plans about the job of Joe Biden.

But for now, the likely 2024 Republican nominee may have done the president a favor.

And he might as well have done one last favor for his former boss, Donald Trump.

The discovery of classified documents at Pence's Indiana home, as first reported by CNN on Tuesday, eased Biden's difficulty in explaining that he himself possessed such material from his own vice presidency.

And he made Pence the most popular man in the White House on Tuesday.

The thunderous saga of the secret documents had a new figurehead.

The episode brought great embarrassment to Pence, exposing him to ridicule and charges of hypocrisy for claiming a moral high ground over Biden when the president was criticized for keeping documents.

Then, the Indiana Republican said he had no classified documents in his possession.

  • What we know about how they found classified documents at the home of former Vice President Pence

Biden aides seized the opportunity to draw a more innocuous comparison between the president's behavior and Pence's than the more damaging one had been suggested between Biden and Trump, who appears to be in much bigger trouble for his storm of classified documents. .

Mike Pence's home in Indiana.

And at first glance, the comparison seems fair.

Neither Pence nor Biden appear to have obstructed investigators once modest batches of documents were discovered in their homes, even if the White House's handling of the crisis has been slow and sometimes even misleading for the government. public.

Both returned the material when it was found.

And both can argue that the transfer of material to their private homes was accidental.


An official told CNN's chief White House correspondent Phil Mattingly that the Pence case was a "helpful example" of another former vice president dealing with issues stemming from a transition out of office.

The source also noted that Pence, like Biden, previously said that he was not aware of having classified documents.

Trump, by contrast, had hundreds of documents, claimed they were his, appeared to cover up what he had, accused the FBI of planting incriminating material, and even bizarrely claimed he had the power to declassify them.

Trump seeks to exploit Pence's malaise

Still, while Pence's revelations clearly do Biden a favor, they also provide an inadvertent political opportunity for Trump.

That's because it may be difficult for many voters unfamiliar with the details of the classified documents saga to distinguish the nuances of the three cases.

The more these caches are unearthed, and the more current and former senior executive branch officials are involved, the more it seems that such discoveries are no big deal or that everyone involved bears equal responsibility.

  • Who is Bob Bauer?

    The man behind Biden's strategy on classified documents

There still appear to be clear legal grounds to show that Trump's withholding of hundreds of documents when he left office—as well as attempts to prevent their return and obstruct the investigation—could rise to the level of criminality.

But the growing controversy over the documents, and revelations about similar situations involving other leaders, threaten to undermine the Justice Department's finding.

The driveway to President Joe Biden's home in Wilmington, Del., is seen from the media van on Friday, Jan. 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Anything that suggests that Trump may be being singled out and treated unfairly, even if it is unfounded, will be used by the former president to reinforce the idea that he is a victim of political persecution.

The stakes are especially incendiary given his campaign for the 2024 presidency.

Trump was quick to try to link his own case to Pence's, even as the White House also tried to distance Biden from his predecessor's legal entanglement.

For at least a day, Trump put aside his anger over Pence's refusal to block congressional certification of Biden's 2020 election victory, which led to a rift between the two, and rushed to defend his former subordinate. loyal.

  • Appeals court halts independent expert review of documents seized at Mar-a-Lago, a major defeat for Trump

“Mike Pence is an innocent man.

He never knowingly did anything dishonest in his life.

Leave him alone!!" Trump wrote on his Truth Social. Meanwhile, sources close to the former president told CNN's Zachary Cohen and Kristen Holmes that they believe the dispute over the Biden-Pence documents makes it more difficult for the Department of Justice finally files charges against any of them.

Discoveries at Pence home shake investigations of classified documents

The latest twist in the mess of classified documents generated a flurry of new questions in Washington, which has been transfixed by the saga, even if it doesn't top the list of things Americans care about most outside the capital.

Open questions include:

Will Pence also now face an investigation by a special prosecutor?

Attorney General Merrick Garland has already appointed semi-independent prosecutors to look into the Trump and Biden classified document cases to avoid any impression of political interference.

The FBI and the Justice Department's Homeland Security Division are currently beginning a review of Pence's documents and how they ended up at her home in Indiana.

Will Pence open up his property for an FBI search, as Biden did last week?

The office had to obtain a court-approved order to do the same at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort amid suspicions that he had failed to turn over all classified material, despite an existing subpoena.

At least one Republican from one of the swing districts, Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon, said Pence should get the same treatment as Biden and Trump.

“If they did a special tip for Biden after we had one on President Trump, then we should do things fairly;

and this should not be a party-specific thing,” he told CNN's Manu Raju on Tuesday.

How will the Pence revelations affect the efforts of the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives to criticize Biden?

Senate and House Republicans have said there is one standard for Biden and a different one for Trump following the discovery of classified documents at Biden's home and former office in Washington.

But Pence's discoveries complicate that equation.

How, for example, can the GOP-led House committees investigate the president if they don't take similar action against Pence?

We have a clue to this with what happened this Tuesday.

House Oversight Chairman James Comer tried to thwart the White House's attempt to compare what happened to Biden and Pence.

The Kentucky Republican said Pence had agreed to "fully cooperate with congressional oversight and any questions we have on the matter," a stance he said was in "stark contrast" to that of the Biden administration.

But Comer didn't say a word about Trump, whose transgression in this area, at least from outside the investigation, seems much broader and more serious so far.

Can the White House use the Pence controversy to deflect the pressure on Biden?

The White House's failed public relations strategy has gotten in the way of his attempt to put the story behind him.

Several times, Biden has tried to downplay the issue, only to have more classified material from her residence turn up in subsequent searches.

The trickle of new details made the scandal seem even more damaging for a government that says it is restoring integrity and transparency.

And the failed handling of the issue has also brought Trump great luck as he tries to jump-start his hitherto tepid 2024 campaign to win back the White House.

Have other former presidents and vice presidents had problems with classified documents?

Given that the documents in the Pence and Biden cases may have been inadvertently taken from the White House, is it possible that other governments have had a similar problem?

And will the National Archives ask former commanders-in-chief to search their homes and offices as a precaution?

Representatives for former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama told CNN Tuesday that their bosses had handed over all classified material when they left the White House.


Biden and Trump scandals over documents are a tie: Cárdenas 5:24

What kind of example are Trump, Biden and Pence setting anyway?

Many lower-ranking government officials treat classified information with extreme care, bordering on paranoia, knowing that careless or negligent handling of such material, often collected at high risk by US intelligence assets, could lead them to jail.

The current controversy over lost documents suggests that such care does not necessarily reach the top of the pyramid.

It also raises questions about how classified information is handled during presidential transitions.

Then there's the perennial conundrum of whether the government stamps "top secret" on too many of its records.

The continued revelations have caused some stupefaction on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers typically have to enter a secure facility to read classified information.

“Wow,” said Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski in response to the latest news about the documents found at Pence's home.

“Holy crap,” added Mark Warner, the Virginia Democrat who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“I would have thought a year ago when this started happening that anybody who had one of these jobs would go back and check their closets,” he said.

CNN's Jamie Gangel, Evan Perez, Lauren Fox and Edward-Isaac Dovere contributed to this report.

classified documentsDonald TrumpJoe BidenMike Pence

Source: cnnespanol

All news articles on 2023-01-25

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