WASHINGTON (TND) — It now appears that it’s not just former President Donald Trump who had classified documents in his personal possession. The Justice Department is now reviewing a batch of sensitive materials that President Joe Biden had in a private office after he finished his time as vice president.
From one president to another, Biden is not the one who finds himself in a tricky situation regarding his handling of classified documents. The discovery came just days before the critical midterm elections but wasn’t revealed until now.
Inside the private office of Biden’s former Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, a political and potentially legal problem was discovered. Classified documents from Biden’s time as vice president were found in a locked closet where he worked after leaving the White House.
Biden’s attorney claims they immediately alerted the White House and the National Archives, which took custody of the papers the next day less than a week before the key midterm elections.
It could prove more than just a headache for Biden who criticized Trump’s handling of classified documents.
“How that could possibly happen? How anyone could be that irresponsible?” Biden said on CBS’s 60 Minutes in September, reacting to the discovery of classified documents at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. He labeled Trump’s actions as “totally irresponsible.”
“I think everybody should be held accountable regardless but I don’t know if it’s the same yet or not," Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., said. “I do think of this though: when you live in a glass house, don't be throwing stones. Right?"
But many are questioning if what happened at Trump’s Florida home is comparable to what happened in Washington D.C.
Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana is the incoming majority leader for Republicans who could help escalate the matter to a Congressional investigation.
“So if then-Vice President Biden took classified documents with him and held them for years and criticized former President Trump," Scalise said. "I wonder why the press isn't asking the same questions of him.”
Although they have tried. At an appearance in Mexico City Tuesday, Biden was hounded by shouted questions from the press but the queries went unanswered at that event.
“It’s a problem whenever there are classified documents where they shouldn’t be but as far as we can tell, it looks like it was completely inadvertent and they turned them over as soon as they found them, which is a very strong distinction from the situation at Mar-a-Lago," Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. said.
In Biden’s case, it may be fewer than a dozen documents found here versus the hundreds found at Trump's home and Biden’s team reportedly offered to quickly return them, while Trump is accused of ignoring a subpoena obstructing the investigation being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“They look different but nevertheless they both need to be treated the same. They both need to have a transparent investigation by a special counsel that the public can see and understand and let’s confirm that they are different," former U.S. Attorney John P. Fishwick, Jr. said.
He’s calling for one similar to the one overseeing the Trump case. Meanwhile, the Justice Department is also being criticized for not making the discovery public as soon as the documents were found.
"The DOJ wouldn’t want to release something before an election. That’s a long-standing policy of within 60 days of an election. They wouldn't want to but once the election was over, I think this should have been disclosed more promptly.” He added, “folks tend to get suspicious when there’s been over a two-month lag here," Fishwick said.
Both sides are now eager to prove past and present presidents are in the wrong.
At the time of this writing, neither Biden nor the White House has publicly said what was contained in those classified documents but multiple media reports have indicated they could include information regarding Iran, Ukraine and other international matters.