Classified document scandals rocking US politics

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Over the past year, many classified documents scandals have rocked US politics.

Both the Trump and Obama administrations have been involved in the discoveries of classified documents being found in their offices and even homes.

It all started back in January 2022 when the National Archives, which receives all presidential records when they vacate their office, contacted officials in the Trump administration over concerns that some documents were missing and that they had to hand them over.

On August 8, 2022, FBI agents searched Former President Donald Trumps Mar-O-Lago property in Palm Beach, Florida, where they seized 33 boxes of documents.

Eventually, Trump sent The Archives 15 boxes of documents in January 2022, which were found to have 184 classified documents within.

The Archives, therefore, notified the Department of Justice upon the discovery of classified documents.

Trump’s team was informed that the documents were going to be handed over to the intelligence community to investigate a potential breach of national security.

They asked for a delay, which was granted but they were then denied a second delay after asking for another.

The FBI later stated that Trump may potentially have more classified documents and therefore issued a subpoena for them to be returned.

June 2022 came around and Trump’s lawyers returned a handful of documents, with 38 of them marked classified, and 17 top-secret.

Trump, however, never fully complied with the subpoena and therefore a search warrant was obtained.

On 8 August 2022, FBI agents searched Former President Donald Trumps Mar-O-Lago property in Palm Beach, Florida, where they seized 33 boxes of documents.

Over 100 confidential, secret and top-secret documents were seized from his storage room and office.

Joe Biden’s classified documents revelation

Fast-forward to January 2023 when it was revealed that residing President Joe Biden had been discovered with classified documents.

On November 2, 2022, Joe Biden’s personal attorney unexpectedly found documents from the Obama-Biden administration at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, where they immediately contacted the National Archives.

seven days later, the FBI and Justice Department launched an investigation to assess whether the classified documents were mishandled.

Attorney General Merrick Garland then appointed US attorney John Lausch on November 14 to oversee the investigation into the documents.

On December 20, Biden’s personal attorney’s searched the garage of his Wilmington home, where they discovered a “small number” of potentially classified documents, which the Justice Department took possession of the following day.

At the beginning of January, News organisations began reporting on the widely unknown scandal, which led to the White House counsel office publicly announcing the discovery of said documents.

Both Biden’s Wilmington and Rehoboth beach homes were searched again for additional documents, where they found a document with potentially classified markings in Wilmington, but found nothing at the beach home.

Talking to reporters in Mexico whilst, at the North American leader’s summit, Biden said he was “surprised” about the discovery of classified documents, and that “People know I take classified information seriously”.

He further stated that he doesn’t know the contents of the classified documents discovered and insisted that his lawyers instantly turn them over to the National Archives.

On January 12, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Robert Hur, A Washington D.C. lawyer and former Attorney General for Maryland during the Trump administration, to serve as the special counsel in the Biden investigation.

Speaking about Hur’s appointment, Merrick stated it “authorizes him to investigate whether any person or entity violated the law in connection with this matter.”

Mike Pence and classified documents

A week after Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to investigate Joe Biden’s classified documents, Mike Pence, the former Vice-President alongside Donald Trump, asked his lawyers to check four boxes in his Indiana home for classified material.

Upon the search, around a dozen classified documents were discovered, immediately being handed to the FBI.

Backtracking to August, after Trumps Mar-o-Lago’s residence was searched, Pence was asked by the FBI in Iowa if he had taken any classified documents, to which he replied “no, not to my knowledge”.

The discovery of the classified documents in late January 2023 comes just days after January 10, where he reiterates in a CBS interview conducted in his Indiana residence where the documents were found, “I did not”.

“Well, there’d be no reason to have classified documents, particularly if they were in an unprotected area,” he states to CBS, “But I will tell you that I believe there had to be many better ways to resolve that issue than executing a search warrant at the personal residence of a former president of the United States.”

The difference between the Trump and Biden discoveries

It is not known when Trump became aware that The Archives requested the return of documents, but it is definite he knew before January 2022, when 15 boxes of documents were sent from his Mar-O-Lago residence.

He also claims that he “declassified” the documents when they left the White House and that they were his personal property, suggesting he knew of their illegal presence from when they were removed early on.

In Biden’s case, a source close to the issue stated that he only knew about the documents in his former office when his lawyers discovered them.

Outrage has rippled through Capitol Hill from both sides of the partisan line as their leaders face major consequences and put the party’s reputation at risk.

Whether any of them purposefully removed the documents from their rightful place will probably largely remain unknown, but from the special counsels to Congressional committee investigations, some version of the truth will be unveiled.

Featured Image Credit: @WhiteHouse/Twitter

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BA(Hons) International Politics and Languages
Politics and Music journalist

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