Trump indictment highlights DOJ's disparate treatment of Pence, Biden, Clinton

 June 11, 2023

The federal indictment handed down against former President Donald Trump last week represented a historic decision, to be sure, and one that underscores the vast differences in the treatment he has received as compared to former Vice President Mike Pence, current President Joe Biden, and others who have been found wrongly possessing classified documents, as USA Today reports.

As NBC News explains, the indictment includes 37 counts spanning seven distinct charges, such as false statements willful retention of national defense information, and conspiracy to obstruct, all related to the discovery of classified documents on the property at his Mar-a-Lago estate in an FBI raid last summer.

What about Pence?

It was earlier this year that Pence was revealed to have had classified documents in boxes at his Indiana home dating from his time in the Trump administration, as USA Today notes.

In January, lawyers for the former VP handed over a group of documents to the FBI and a subsequent – consensual – search of Pence's home revealed one more classified document and several others deemed potentially problematic.

Pence declared of the situation, “I had no business having classified documents at my residence, and I took full responsibility for it.”

As such, the Justice Department stated earlier this month that Pence will not face prosecution over the documents controversy, a stark contrast to the scenario facing his former boss.

Biden case in limbo

In the case of Biden, classified documents were discovered in not one, but two locations connected to the president, namely, a former office of his at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in D.C. and also at his Wilmington, Delaware home.

Some of the material in Biden's possession reportedly dated back to his years in the Senate, a fact which many Republicans believe makes Trump's prosecution by the current Justice Department all the more egregious, with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) saying, “It is unconscionable for a president to indict the leading candidate opposing him. Joe Biden kept classified documents for decades.”

However, the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel has already signaled its belief that presidents are immune from prosecution while serving in the Oval Office, therefore perhaps keeping Biden safe – at least for the time being.

Even so, Special Counsel Robert Hur's inquiry into the Biden document case is said to be ongoing, but whether in reality that portends any consequences for the president now or in the future remains an open question.

The “Hillary Precedent”

Washington Examiner opinion writer Tiana Lowe Doescher mused this weekend that the glaring disparity between the DOJ's treatment of Trump and its handling of Hillary Clinton's private email server, possession of classified material, and her destruction of documents is about one thing only – keeping Trump from defeating Biden in the 2024 election.

“In other words, President Joe Biden's DOJ is attempting to take out the man most likely to face the incumbent president on the debate stage by defying the precedent Biden's former boss set by letting Hillary Clinton walk from the law and toward the Democratic nomination in 2016, scot-free,” she wrote.

Doescher continued, noting that “it is important to remember that unlike former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Trump had the legitimate and undisputed power to declassify documents when he was president. Whether he properly did so for the documents in question is another matter – but such a minor one in the scope of public consciousness that it's hard to see how this doesn't trigger reflexive support for Trump among the GOP rather than disgust.”

The indisputable double standard at play is not lost on Trump, as he has made it more than clear that he will not be dissuaded or chased from the arena – by this or any other legal entanglement. When asked whether there are “any circumstances under which you could see yourself dropping out of the 2024 presidential election,” the GOP primary frontrunner said unequivocally, “No. None whatsoever,” in what was surely music to the ears of his millions of supporters.

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