Why prosecutors might get Trump – and not Biden – for classified documents

Both President Joe Biden and former president Donald Trump were found to have classified documents in their personal possession, The Guardian reported.

But Trump’s retention of classified-marked documents found at his Mar-A-Lago estate in Florida is different than Biden’s, or Trump’s vice president Mike Pence’s. 

The crucial difference is the suspected obstruction of justice. 

Legal experts believe the situation for Trump is more perilous than others swept up in the ongoing document scandal because of his reluctance to cooperate at key moments in the investigation and his unwillingness to proactively search his properties for marked documents after becoming aware that he possessed such documents.

The Department of Justice said in its court filings that it suspected Trump of concealing classified-marked documents at Mar-a-Lago. 

While that might be the most aggressive characterization, the trouble for Trump is that he has handled his case far differently from Biden and Pence.

The recent discoveries of marked documents at Biden’s D.C. office and home in Delaware, and then at Pence’s home in Indiana, showcase how chaotic presidential transitions are chaotic, and that senior government officials are clearly unaware of the contents of boxes packed by aides.

While that may be an inadvertent error, Trump’s situation may be a potential crime. 

What matters to the Department of Justice is what happens once classified-marked documents are found and whether officials take steps to ensure they have returned any such papers to the government.

Biden and Pence freely gave up the marked documents as soon as they were found. And both proactively allowed their lawyers to search any and all properties, showing not only compliance and cooperation but also caution. 

Getting documents from Trump was a monumental struggle. 

For Trump’s case to mirror that of Biden or Pence, Trump essentially would have had to comply with the subpoena, but then proactively conduct another search of his resort – as Biden later did with his home – and proactively search his other properties, as Biden did with his beach house.

Trump’s lawyers made no effort to ensure no more classified documents remained at the resort, or any other property until the department repeatedly sought them to do so in November and turned up more documents. 

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