Joe Biden's classified document fiasco has complicated the Democratic party's narrative about President Trump's criminal liability for mishandling classified documents, unexpectedly easing legal pressure on Trump and putting his rival on the backfoot at the outset of the 2024 horserace.
Democrats defended the unprecedented FBI raid of President Trump's home last year with the mantra that no one, not even a U.S. president, is "above the law," but those talking points are in need of some revision after the discovery of classified documents at Biden's home and a think tank in Washington.
While Democrats insist the two cases are like apples and oranges, many say the Biden scandal undercuts the president's attempts to paint himself as a steadier hand than his predecessor.
Biden condemned Trump as "totally irresponsible" for storing documents at Mar-A-Lago, but now Biden is being asked to explain how classified documents ended up in his garage, next to his Corvette. The obstinate caginess of the White House has only raised more questions about what Biden is hiding.
Some Democrats, while disagreeing on the long-term impact, have conceded that recent headlines don't look good for Biden, whose administration has repeatedly pledged "transparency."
Obama strategist David Axelrod called the controversy a blip that will soon fade, but acknowledged it is potentially "a huge gift to Trump."
Besides exposing Biden as a hypocrite, the controversy introduces new political risks for the Biden Justice Department as it weighs charges against Trump, the 2024 Republican frontrunner in a field of one.
Conservative law professor Jonathan Turley called the Mar-A-Lago probe a "serious criminal case," but noted that Biden's alleged conduct could make Trump look like the victim of a political vendetta to many.
“When you see Trump being pursued on six different fronts by different prosecutors, it can have the opposite effect. It can reaffirm the misgivings of some voters that these are political prosecutions," he said.
In addition to the Mar-A-Lago probe, Trump is facing Democrat-led prosecutions related to his business and his alleged effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Prosecutors also face obstacles in those probes, however.
For instance, the January 6th committee has urged the DOJ to charge Trump with insurrection mainly on the basis of his passionate rhetoric about a "stolen" election, language that clearly implicates the First Amendment.
Meanwhile, the recent developments surrounding Biden have raised speculation of a plot by Democrat elites to dispose of the aging, unpopular president.
Whatever the case, the timing couldn't be better for Trump, as Biden prepares to officially enter the 2024 race as soon as early February.
Reports that Trump is planning to return to Twitter and Facebook soon suggest the former president, who is known for his killer instinct, is ready to pounce on his suddenly vulnerable rival.