What Do We Think about the Biden/Trump Scenarios? An Analysis of the Pence Papers and the Post-Trump Era
The professor of History and Public Affairs at the university is a CNN political analyst. He is the author and editor of 25 books, including the New York Times best-seller, “Myth America: Historians Take on the Biggest Lies and Legends About Our Past” (Basic Books). Follow him on Twitter @julianzelizer. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion on CNN.
CNN has previously reported that the FBI and Justice Department are conducting a review of the Pence documents and how they ended up at his home. This is less than a full-blown criminal probe.
But, as evidenced by the latest revelations, this is not simply an inside Washington story. Nor is it one that it will go away anytime soon. Biden’s brand name is bad news from this scandal because it takes the heat off Biden.
New polls show that this is clear. A large number of Americans approve of the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the handling of classified documents by Vice President Biden. According to a CNN survey, Americans understand the differences between the Biden and Trump cases. While a majority of Americans disapprove of the way Biden has handled the issue and consider it a serious or “somewhat serious” problem, it’s telling that only 37% of Americans believe he has done something illegal. Yet, when it comes to Trump’s case, 52% of Americans believe he has done something illegal.
Biden lost the high ground on this issue after establishing himself as the foil to Trump in 2020. The recent developments could help support the argument that this should be treated as an administrative issue rather than a criminal one, according to Trump’s team.
When it comes to reputation, Biden has more to lose. One of the greatest assets of Biden is the image of a straight shooter who can be trusted. After the tumult of the Trump years, Biden ran for president in 2020 as a seasoned adult in the room, like Jimmy Carter, who had been president after Watergate.
We’re now seeing the first major blow to that image, with more attacks sure to come now that the Republicans who have gained control of the House are vowing to investigate everything from Hunter Biden to the president’s border policies.
The negative attacks on Biden will continue regardless of what the Republicans discover, and they will be able to change our attention to something else. The GOP used Hillary Clinton’s emails to attack her reputation during the 2016 election if Democrats don’t think these stories can have legs.
The turmoil will also renew talks within the Democratic Party about whether Biden should run for reelection or who might challenge him in the primaries — two conversations that had largely abated after the party’s stunning performance in the midterms.
The media and the public can be distracted from the issues Biden would rather focus on, such as the slowing of inflation or military support for Ukraine.
And, of course, there are plenty of ways this could continue going south for Biden, especially if there are fresh revelations surrounding his handling of classified documents.
The political impact this story could have is something he and his supporters should not discount. The door has already been opened by this, and gave the Trump campaign something to crow about.
The Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement: Searching the FBI after an Assessment of the November 9, 2016 Presidential Investigation, According to an Official
The Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement was searched by the FBI, in conjunction with an assessment the DOJ said it released earlier this month, according to an official. In relaying that timeline earlier this month, Attorney General Merrick Garland said: “On November 9, the FBI commenced an assessment, consistent with standard protocols, to understand whether classified information had been mishandled in violation of federal law.”
This latest revelation raises additional questions about how transparent the White House and Biden’s legal team have been about the government’s investigation into the president’s handling of classified documents, which is now being overseen by special counsel Robert Hur.
According to one source, the FBI looked at the materials at the National Archives during the week of November 21. The source said that only the FBI visited to look at the documents.
The purpose of the visit was to make sure nothing was left in the office and to check the way the documents were stored.
The source said that the FBI was informed of the discovery of the classified materials on November 4, after examining four boxes of documents.
The FBI also examined binders that were held at the president’s campaign attorney’s office in Boston that were also handed over to the Archives. Those binders contained no classified materials, the source said.
Whether it was deliberate or not, Trump missed many chances to return the documents to the government. Criminal prosecutors decided that there may have been attempts to hold on to the documents and that Trump is under investigation for possible obstruction.
The highest level of classification was given to some of Biden’s documents. Some of those documents had an “SCI” designation, which stands for “sensitive compartmented information” and refers to extremely sensitive material gleaned from US intelligence sources.
Attorney General Merrick Garland brought on special prosecutors to investigate Biden and Trump. Jack Smith was appointed as a special counsel to investigate the Trump matter. Robert Hur was appointed in January to investigate the Biden matter.
The Trump investigation has progressed the farthest. The federal government tried to hold Trump in contempt when they tried to get all the documents back, but he didn’t comply. Investigators also got a judge to approve a search warrant for Mar-a-Lago and CNN has reported that there is an active grand jury based in Washington, DC, that recently heard testimony from witnesses.
According to Short, there have been discussions about a consensual search being conducted.
Short said that he doesn’t think that the man hears about the documents when he travels across the country. I think he hears encouragement as he travels.
He said it was a benefit to him that he was waiting until the end of the process.