The oh so important political considerations and the possibility of Roger Stone/Lee Atwater levels of rat-fuckery aside, former Deputy Attorney General for H.W. Bush, Donald Ayer, makes a compelling case in The Atlantic (on MSN) as to exactly why the President Biden/ex-Resident Trump classified documents imbroglios are so stunningly different in scale and import as to make any comparison between the two patently ridiculous.
He begins with the obvious – the citing of The Espionage Act in the search warrant, approved by a federal Judge, of Mar-A-Lago last summer:
“Individuals violate the Espionage Act when, among other things, they willfully retain national-defense documents and fail to return them to a proper government official upon request. In November, Biden’s personal lawyer discovered the classified documents and returned them to the government without a request. So that statute does not apply. Biden has denied knowing that he had the documents.
The contrast with Trump is stark. The National Archives and Records Administration first asked him to return missing documents in May 2021. The following January, Archives officials retrieved 15 boxes of government records, and on June 3, 2022, his lawyer signed a sworn statement that all documents responsive to a grand jury subpoena were being returned after a “diligent” search. (That any lawyer would do so without conducting the search herself raises serious ethical questions, and strongly implies that she was instructed by someone to make the statement.)”
This is perhaps the most important distinction between the two cases.
It is the difference between a bank robber yelling out a window daring the coppers to come and take back his ill gotten gains and a conscientious customer returning to a bank the extra $5.00 they mistakenly received during a withdrawal. GOP Congresscritters may not be smart enough to see the difference, but a not insignificant portion of the American voting public are…
In addition Ayer points out that the judge issuing the warrant was presented with evidence that the lawyer who swore that all responsive documents were returned likely lied. And was likely told to. And the not so small matter that the warrant yielded more than 11,000 documents – some that could conceivably endanger the lives of American intelligence agents in the field.
As you read anyone seeking to draw equivalencies between the two cases, from a public relations standpoint or otherwise, ask yourself if it is likely the search of Joe Biden’s properties will turn up anything remotely similar.
With that lead-in Ayer then cites the second statute alleged by the DOJ to have been violated when the sought the warrant:
“The centrality of concealment to the case is made even clearer by the second statute cited in the Mar-a-Lago affidavit. It subjects to prosecution anyone who “knowingly … conceals [or] covers up … any record, document, or tangible object with the intent to impede [or] obstruct … the investigation or proper administration of any [federal] matter.”
This charge was probably an easy one for the judge to sign off on – drumpf obstructs justice likes he breaths, only perhaps with considerably greater ease. It is so central to his persona that he rarely even tries to hide it.
Ayer then continues by discussing the third trampled statute cited by the warrant:
“Similarly, the third criminal statute relied on in the Mar-a-Lago affidavit prohibits “willfully and unlawfully concealing [or] removing” a government record or document from “any public office … of the United States.” Willful and unlawful intent requires knowledge that one is breaking the law, and Trump was placed on notice over the course of many months, and asked numerous times by multiple federal agencies to return all classified and presidential records. He still did not.”
And this, of course, is where any comparison between the two cases completely breaks down.
Until I, or Mr. Ayer’s presumably, is shown evidence that President Biden intended in any way to have “willfully and unlawfully conceal” the documents in his possession, I will regard any equivalence between drumpf’s wholesale theft and whatever happened with the President in the same light as I read RT’s protestations of Russia’s good intentions in Ukraine – as unadulterated bullshit.
Ayer ends with his opinion of how the handling of the Trump investigation should proceed:
“The current state of facts strongly suggests that Biden’s errors are not criminal. It is not even clear that these incidents can be tied to him personally, unlike Trump’s conduct at Mar-a-Lago. But whatever Hur finds to be true, the facts and law regarding Trump’s concealment and evasion are a separate matter. The administration of justice must advance swiftly and not be influenced by those attempting to create a false equivalence between the two cases.“
In other words, go get him, Jack Smith.