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Luisa Vieira

How the Trump documents case compares to Biden’s, Pence’s, and Clinton’s

In a sit-down interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier on Monday night, former President Donald Trump reiterated his claim that he’s being unfairly persecuted by his political adversaries for retaining classified documents. Meanwhile, other leaders like President Joe Biden, former Vice President Mike Pence, and then-Secretary of State and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton are allowed to walk away scot-free after engaging in similar behavior, Trump claimed, calling it a “double standard.”

This is a defense he’s used numerous times to discredit accusations against him by painting himself as the victim of a “witch hunt” by the Democrat-controlled “deep state” to take down the Republican frontrunner – a deep state that also ignores or covers up misdeeds committed by Biden, members of Biden’s family, and other former officials.

A solid majority of Republican leaders and voters (as well as more than half of independents) buy into this narrative, calling Trump’s latest indictment “politically motivated,” characterizing the US justice system as “two-tiered,” and accusing the Biden administration of “weaponizing” the Justice Department against conservatives in order to “steal” the next election. Most Republicans believe Biden is guilty not only of the same crimes Trump is accused of but also of corruption – and that the FBI is looking the other way.

Does this double standard really exist? Or was Trump’s behavior so extraordinary as to warrant criminal charges while the other cases didn’t?

Let’s look at the facts of each classified documents case and decide.

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An FBI photograph of documents and classified cover sheets recovered from former US Pesident Donald Trump's Florida estate.


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Did Trump conceal top-secret documents?

Donald Trump repeatedly blocked US law enforcement from accessing highly-classified documents stored at his Mar-a-Lago residence (and lied about how many files remained there), according to a scathing new document released Tuesday by the Department of Justice. The filing came in response to a recent request by the former president that the documents — seized from his Florida estate by the FBI on Aug. 8 — be reviewed by a third-party arbiter to decide if any are covered by executive privilege. (The DOJ opposes this on the legal grounds that the records don’t belong to Trump.) It’s the most detailed account to date of the months-long attempt by the National Archives – an independent agency that stores and preserves government records – to obtain classified files Trump took from the White House after the 2020 election. The filing includes a photograph of documents labeled “Top Secret” and claims that some material was so sensitive that some FBI and DOJ personnel required additional security clearances to review them. Crucially, it also states that “efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation” after Trump’s legal team ignored in the spring a grand jury subpoena seeking all classified documents. A federal court decides Thursday whether the arbiter can be brought in.

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