Republican Rep. Michael McCaul sat down yesterday with ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, and the host asked the Texan about the latest classified materials discovered in President Joe Biden’s Delaware home. McCaul, the House Foreign Affairs Committee chair and a former prosecutor, emphasized an erroneous point.
“What’s significant,” the GOP congressman said, “as a former federal prosecutor, you have the search warrant now conducted by the FBI.”
But as McCaul really ought to have known, there was no search warrant. In fact, one of the more notable details about this story is that the FBI didn’t need a search warrant — because the president, unlike his immediate predecessor, extended a voluntary invitation to Justice Department investigators, asking them to show up at his door and conduct a thorough review. NBC News reported over the weekend:
Six additional items, including documents with classified markings, were found in President Joe Biden’s Delaware home after Justice Department officials searched the residence Friday, the president’s personal attorney said Saturday. The search was prompted by the White House, not the Justice Department, according to a White House official and a source familiar with the matter.
To be sure, it’s hardly good news for the incumbent Democrat that Justice Department investigators — over the course of an inspection that lasted 13 hours — uncovered another half-dozen items. Biden, or at least those who packed his belongings in years past, already stood accused of having been sloppy with classified materials several years ago, and now those accusations have been reinforced with the discovery of additional findings.
But again, there was no need for a court-approved search warrant because the president, unlike a certain someone, chose to be fully cooperative with the process.
The day after this came to public attention, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and, for reasons I’m still struggling to understand, the conservative West Virginian told Chuck Todd, “[I]t’s just hard to believe that in the United States of America, we have a former president and a current president that are basically in the same situation.”
With each passing day, the fact that Biden and Donald Trump are not “basically in the same situation” becomes more obvious. As we’ve discussed, the Republican took hundreds of classified materials to his glorified country club. He ignored requests to return them. He failed to comply with a federal subpoena. He lied repeatedly. He returned some documents, but held on to others, all while refusing to cooperate in good faith. He even proposed a possible trade in which he’d consider giving the documents back, but only if officials gave him something else in return.
According to a Justice Department court filing, there’s even evidence that classified documents held at Mar-a-Lago were “likely concealed and removed” before the FBI search to retrieve them.
After the FBI executed a court-approved warrant at Mar-a-Lago, Trump launched a months-long crusade against federal law enforcement, literally equating the bureau with “the Gestapo,” and repeatedly raising the prospect of FBI agents “planting“ incriminating evidence against him.
And then there’s Biden. He wasn’t asked to return the germane documents because officials didn’t know they were missing. He nevertheless voluntarily disclosed the mistake, voluntarily returned the materials, voluntarily cooperated with the Justice Department, and voluntarily welcomed investigators into his home without a warrant.
No name calling. No incessant whining about “witch hunts.” No available evidence of lying, resisting, or obstructing.
Are they “basically in the same situation”? Sure, just so long as one overlooks literally every relevant detail.
Whether the Democratic president’s critic are prepared to acknowledge this fact or not, every step in the Biden story makes his predecessor look worse, not better. If Trump had handled his mess appropriately from the outset — which is to say, if he’d acted like Biden — there might’ve been a story on Page A17 about the former president returning some materials he’d taken from the White House.
Instead, the Republican is facing a criminal investigation that is in no way similar to the story surrounding his successor.