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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

USA: Biden “surprises” existence of secret government documents

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The discovery of top-secret documents in Trump’s estate was a political sensation – now it’s becoming public that Joe Biden was also sloppy. The topic has great political explosiveness.

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US President Biden is trying to limit the damage after secret documents were found in his former private office. He was “surprised” that the documents had even been brought to the office, Biden said yesterday (local time) on the sidelines of a visit to Mexico City.

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At the same time, he promised “full cooperation” in the investigation. Biden continued to explain that he did not know what was in the documents. The spicy and politically explosive find puts the President in a difficult position to explain.

Papers on Ukraine, Iran and Great Britain

On Monday it became public that Biden had kept secret documents from his time as US Vice President Barack Obama in his private offices in the Penn Biden Center in the capital Washington. Biden used the space after he left the vice presidential post in 2017 until about 2020, the White House said.

The files are reported to include at least 10 top-secret documents, some of which are top-class classified. According to CNN, these include papers from the US secret service on other countries such as Ukraine, Iran or Great Britain. The White House also announced that the documents had already been found on November 2 when clearing out Biden’s offices.

The politically explosive news reached Biden during his first trip abroad in the new year. The US President traveled to Mexico for political talks with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. On Monday and yesterday morning (local time) he was initially silent there when asked about the find. Only at a joint press conference with López Obrador and Trudeau yesterday evening (local time) did he finally declare himself.

Crate discovered while clearing out

Biden confirmed his attorneys found a box containing the documents in a “locked cupboard” while cleaning out the office and immediately turned them over to the National Archives. Biden did not say why the incident was only now known. He is “fully cooperating” with the investigation and hopes it will be over soon. People know he takes classified information very seriously, Biden said. His lawyers had also reacted perfectly correctly by immediately informing the National Archives.

The find is politically extremely sensitive for Biden, because his predecessor Donald Trump caused a scandal with a similar case in the summer. When he left the White House, Trump took government documents with him to his private estate Mar-a-Lago in Florida on a grand scale, including a number of top-secret documents. The Federal Police FBI searched the property in Florida in August and confiscated various classified documents. Attorney General Merrick Garland, appointed by Biden, appointed a special investigator to clarify whether Trump may have committed a criminal offense. In the United States, government documents generally need to be archived and preserved for posterity.

“People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”

Many Republicans are already calling for the same to apply to Biden. Several MPs took the revelation as an opportunity to sharply criticize Biden. “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones,” said Republican MP Don Bacon, referring to the criticism that Biden leveled at Trump in an interview in September. Biden described his predecessor’s behavior as “irresponsible”.

The timing of the discovery of the documents also raises questions among Republicans. “Oh really? They only found this now after all these years?” CNN quoted newly elected House Speaker Kevin McCarthy as saying. Party colleague Byron Donalds expressed a similar view: “Why were these documents only found six years later?”

Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik said it was disturbing that while the files were discovered and handed over in early November, the “corrupt” Justice Department has kept the find secret until now. According to the Justice Department, this is a common practice. The Ministry usually does not inform publicly about investigations or investigation results.

Incident plays into the hands of Republicans

The find is grist to the mills of the Republicans, who have been in charge of the House of Representatives since last week. You had already announced parliamentary inquiries into various topics to take a closer look at the actions of the Biden government.

Finding the documents in Biden’s old office plays into their hands. Yesterday, the chairman of the relevant committee in the House of Representatives asked the White House for extensive information on the case. “We want to know how the decision was made to search Mar-a-Lago when President Biden appeared to have done nothing,” Republican James Comer told CBS. It looks like a “cover-up”.

Trump didn’t let ridicule and criticism go away either. “When will the FBI raid Joe Biden’s many homes, maybe even the White House?” Trump posted on Truth Social, a social media platform he co-founded. Trump repeatedly dismisses the investigation against him as a “political witch hunt”.

Situation different than Trump

Unlike Biden, however, Trump’s case was preceded by a dispute with the National Archives, which manages presidential documents. It tried for months to get papers from Trump’s tenure. Trump’s lawyers finally handed over documents. However, officials suspected that Trump or his team continued to withhold documents, which is not allowed.

At the time, the search warrant listed three criminal offenses as possible grounds for possible seizures: collecting, transmitting or losing defense information, removing or destroying official documents, and destroying or altering documents to hinder investigations.

Source: Stern

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