by Seth Moskowitz
Friday, 13
January 2023
Explainer
17:00

Joe Biden’s hypocrisy will hurt him

The President has more in common with Donald Trump than he realises
by Seth Moskowitz
Possession of the documents makes Joe Biden look like a hypocrite. Credit: Getty

Despite their numerous differences and disagreements, Joe Biden and Donald Trump do have something in common after all: both have a habit of mishandling classified information. 

This week, The White House confirmed that, back in November, some of Biden’s aids discovered classified documents at the president’s office at a think tank in Washington and in his home garage in Wilmington. The files were from Biden’s time as Vice President, and reportedly contained information about Ukraine, Iran, and the United Kingdom. The news comes after Biden and his Democratic allies spent half a year harshly criticising Trump for…his handling of classified documents. 


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By all accounts, the way that Biden’s team reacted to their discovery contrasted sharply with the response of Trump’s team. Trump and his aides spent months delaying, obfuscating, and resisting subpoenas from the National Archives to turn over his documents. This obstruction is what eventually led the FBI to search Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago. By comparison, Biden’s team immediately alerted the National Archives to what they had found and handed the files over.

Despite these differences, the news that Biden or someone on his team mishandled sensitive documents is, at best, an indication of carelessness on the current President’s part. The best possible scenario for the president is that someone on his team brought the files to his home and office, and Biden didn’t bother checking what was in there. A much worse scenario would be that the President, at some point, knew about the mishandled documents and didn’t immediately report them. Ultimately, however, the fact that Biden had classified files lying around at all demonstrates a certain amount of negligence.

From a political perspective, even worse for the President than having these documents in the first place is that he looks like a hypocrite. In a September interview with 60 Minutes, when he was asked about the discovery of top secret files at Mar-a-Lago, he said that he wondered “how that could possibly happen” and “how anyone could be that irresponsible.” The fact that Biden’s criticism can be turned on himself is nothing less than a public relations disaster for the President. After months of harshly condemning Donald Trump for storing classified government documents at his home in Mar-a-Lago, Joe Biden is having to eat his words.

Democrats are protesting that there is a false equivalence being made between Biden and Trump. That may be the case. But Trump’s behaviour does not set the legal standard for what is acceptable when it comes to handling classified documents. From a legal perspective, Biden’s actions and culpability deserve to be addressed independently from Trump’s.

On that note, Attorney General Merrick Garland’s decision to appoint a special counsel to investigate the matter is appropriate. Only with an independent process will we be able to get to the bottom of exactly what happened: how the documents got to Biden’s office and his garage, if there are any more documents lying around, whether Biden knew anything about this, and if any crimes were committed.

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J Bryant
J Bryant
15 days ago

This story will be spun, downplayed and buried, just like the Hunter Biden laptop story.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
15 days ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Or the latest Russiagate Twitter Files. I ask again… why are Unherd not all over these files. It is not opinion, it is hard evidence and the left media is not covering it.

B Emery
B Emery
15 days ago

Yes please! Why aren’t they all over the front page instead of bloody Prince Harry crap? And Pfizer suppressing the vax debate.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
15 days ago
Reply to  J Bryant
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
15 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

I’m sure the guardian thought this was impeachable six months ago.

Dustin Needle
Dustin Needle
14 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Not going to read a Guardian Biden piece, so will just comment on the heading.
US is a country of laws. The Democrats had a couple of years of House/Congress full control, with an obedient media and the ability to summon more lawyers than you can shake a stick at.
They could have changed whatever they wanted.
Now I loathe Blair for the permanent damage he has inflicted on UK democracy and society. But even I have a grudging respect for his ruthless competence in installing long-term advocates in key areas of the state, turning lawfare and media on opponents (those that didn’t die in mysterious circumstances) and covering his tracks generally.
Biden is an idiot and has outlived his usefulness. There is no other explanation for this coming out just days after the Dems lost Congress, having festered unreported for so long.
That much must be obvious even to the Guardian.

Michael Layman
Michael Layman
10 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

The Guardian is extremely biased. I cancelled my subscription months ago.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
14 days ago
Reply to  J Bryant

True but it is very much the case that (to quote Emile Zola on the Dreyfus affair, thanks to Robert Zaretsky’s excellent recent Unherd article) “The truth is on the march, and nothing will stop it”.

Dustin Needle
Dustin Needle
13 days ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Or not…somebody has decided that Biden is damaged beyond repair and is best disposed of now on the lesser grounds of “hypocrisy” and general old age forgetfulness. Rather than some of the nastier alternatives swirling around him that could bring down something rather bigger.

Jim R
Jim R
15 days ago

It’s hard not to enjoy the irony of this after listening to the months of theatrical outrage over Trump’s mishandling of documents. On the other hand, it only increases cynicism and the sense that the system is so hypocritical and rigged it may be beyond saving. How long can a system that’s lost all credibility survive?

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
14 days ago
Reply to  Jim R

I know, it does make one smile. You think they’d learn, but no. They also accused Trump of colluding with Russia, and then realised Hunter was clearly colluding with corrupt Ukrainians.

When a political opponent does something wrong, the first question should be, ‘Could we have done this too?’, before you start gloating and forecasting appropriate punishment.

Phillip Arundel
Phillip Arundel
14 days ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

These stole Top Secret Documents are of Ukraine and China! The place Hunter was neck deep in crime, and where Biden, (the big guy) toppled the government investigating Burisma and the son’s dealings with it.

Hunter had a key to the house, the center, and the garage – he worked in the garage – he has 100% access to these documents which likely involve the crimes he was involved in – Felony for the documents to be there, Felony others had access!

Biden Crime Family – Nothing to do with Trump!

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
14 days ago

Ehhh, I wasn’t implicating Trump??

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
13 days ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Why? What they’re doing now has clearly been working for them.

Phillip Arundel
Phillip Arundel
14 days ago
Reply to  Jim R

What is with this insanely dishonest TDS article? Has Unherd fully joined the MSM in its twisting truth?

”Joe Biden and Donald Trump do have something in common after all: both have a habit of mishandling classified information.”

Trump was President – he can de-classify ANY Document. He did this, He did Not break the law! It was always known he had those, he legally took them, he was President, not Vice President as Biden was! Notice how the Dem Witch Trial could not even manage to find a break in the law?

Biden was Vice President when he stole these top secret documents! He could Not De-Classify them He has committed 120 Felonies!

He stole these Top Secret Documents. Read on the law of transporting these, and storing – Hunter had access to them! This is Felony after Felony!

If you steal $1000 from a liquor store, and years later the money is found in your house you can not say you will give it back, and so it was not a crime!

TDS, TDS, TDS…. come on Unherd – not every last thing the Biden Crime Family do has to be equated to something (not illegal) Trump did! Just cover this Shocking Crime – forget Trump, TDS,TDS,TDS

Last edited 14 days ago by Phillip Arundel
Samir Iker
Samir Iker
13 days ago

Am not sure why you are being downboted for pointing out this crucial point and the real difference between the two cases.

Michael Layman
Michael Layman
10 days ago

Interesting point if in fact Trump did declassify the documents he possessed. I would be interested in the process by which the President may do so.

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
15 days ago

Dude, there is a distinct difference between Trump and Biden vis a vis classified documents:

Trump was President when the docs were removed, and the President is the ultimate authority for declassifying documents. Also, he was covered by the Presidential Records Act, which allows Presidents to request items (albeit from the National Archives) for his memoirs etc. so there are some unresolved legal questions about trump. Also, the DOJ was leaking like a sieve before we knew what the documents were – including a hint that it contained the nuclear codes! (In fact, it was an article about the codes).

Biden had zero authority under any law (or on the basis of his status as VP), and the documents included documents with the HIGHEST security code (higher than Top Secret, which some Trump docs had). Their claims that they were sent to the NationL Archives soon after discovery IN NOVEMBER is irrelevant to the fact that he mishandled the highest secret documents (about Ukraine, Russia and Iran) – after the period when he was the cause of Hunter’s “jobs” for Ukraine and Moscow (plus China).

Trump acted like a loose cannon and made things worse by not continuing to negotiate with the Archives, but Biden got a free pass (no leaks from the leakiest DOJ in memory) until officially disclosed with a ready Narrative in January.

So we are wasting money on two special counsel (not to mention Mueller and Durham) – one for each leading candidate for 2024. And the DOJ did not act politically with Trump So that they were painted into a corner with Biden? Right . . .

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
15 days ago
Reply to  Richard Pearse

I tend to think this more about political theatre and bread and circuses. Not a great deal will happen the right will be outraged, the left will be hypocritcal (so the last five years all over again) and the decline will continue.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
15 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

Totally agree. Bread and circuses. Just like the Bridgen fiasco. Please don’t pay attention to the Covid catastrophe. This holocaust nonsense is so much more important.

Andrew Buckley
Andrew Buckley
15 days ago

They are all as bad as each other.
It often seems to me that far more time and effort (and probably money) is spent on looking for and exploiting odd and mainly trivial peccadillos from all sides.
Same in the UK, how many people really care about who paid for some wallpaper (I think it a disgrace that the duly elected leader of the country can’t redecorate his home) and whether a Pizza being eaten in company was a “work event” or a birthday party broke some esoteric “guidelines”.
So, my message to Labour, Conservative, Democrats, Republicans and Lib Dems and sundry others is – get on with the JOB.
I am sick to death of vague tittle tattle being seen as more important and news worthy than policies.

Phillip Arundel
Phillip Arundel
14 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Buckley

”They are all as bad as each other.”

No, No, NO – this event of Biden illegally holding TOP SECRET documents in his home is a Felony – 10 years in Federal Prison Felony – a Big Felony. Then allowing access to them to his family, and everyone? The documents are of where the Bidens are neck deep in crime, Ukraine and China –

Some are flat out evil, some good. Trump is a patriot – Biden an evil, America wrecker. They are not as bad as each other.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
14 days ago

Trump was no patriot, his loyalty extended no further than his own private interests. Biden is useless, and should have been put out to pasture a decade ago. They are all as bad as each other

Carol Calhoun
Carol Calhoun
13 days ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

“Biden is useless”. Totally disagree. he is being used and to the detriment of the country. He is causing great harm, and it may be irreversible! The damage to the country happens on a daily basis.

Richard Parker
Richard Parker
13 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Buckley

Thank you: I completely agree. The late PJ O’Rourke once opined that people only became politicians because they weren’t worth s**t at anything else. Experience increasingly convinces me that he was correct.

Michael Layman
Michael Layman
10 days ago
Reply to  Richard Parker

I had no idea O’Rourke died last year. I will have to revisit his writings.

Michael Layman
Michael Layman
10 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Buckley

Hear, Hear!

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
15 days ago

The difference is that Biden had no permission to declassify them…and they were chucked into the garage next to his corvette. He mentioned the corvette twice in the same puff of breath. Also weird that they did not bring this up before the mid terms.

Dustin Needle
Dustin Needle
14 days ago

A cynical person might say that he’s the Globalist’s ultimate dream – a rubber stamp in the White House that they control. Now he’s lost Congress, his usefulness is at an end and they can wind down the exhausting process of limiting the amount of incompetency the world gets to see.
I can’t see how ‘they’ would allow him to run in 2024 – an old white guy who can’t speak coherently, and has no energy to campaign yet currently has the most votes of any US President. Weird indeed…
He’s been a loyal and faithful Swamp servant. An elegant pre-2024 exit with full honours awaits.

Michael Layman
Michael Layman
10 days ago
Reply to  Dustin Needle

Since his election, I have felt he was merely a puppet of the Democrats. This appears to be increasingly true.

Phillip Arundel
Phillip Arundel
14 days ago

Also – if the FBI and Justice department had revealed this before the Nov 8 Midterms it would have changed everything! It is Hunters Laptop all over again. The FBI is who selects the President!

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
15 days ago

I suspect every president and vice president in history has brought home documents. But the regime used this as excuse to pursue Trump – remember the chatter of impeachment – so now they have to go after Biden, if only for the sake of appearances.

Just like the Hunter Biden laptop, the Twitter files, the Steele Dossier – we will be told this is a big nothing burger, nothing to see here.

Zak Orn
Zak Orn
14 days ago

None of the other frequent hypocrisies on the ‘left’ have ever hurt them before, why would this one be any different?

Saul D
Saul D
14 days ago

The documents were buried for 6 years and no-one (possibly not even Joe Biden) knew about their existence. What was the impetus to look for them? And even after discovery, they could have been quietly disposed of with no-one being the wiser. So why reveal publicly that they existed?
It leads to conspiracy theorizing that perhaps copies have already been found in places they shouldn’t be – Hunter’s laptop being one obvious possibility. So I hope more information is forthcoming…

Mary Bruels
Mary Bruels
14 days ago
Reply to  Saul D

Adjusting my conspiracy hat, I am beginning to believe that the leaks about the locations of the documents had their primary sources within the deep state forces that are controlling Biden (if he can be controlled in his current deteriorating condition). This is the prelude to denying him the 2024 nomination. He will resign for “reasons of health” long before the nominating convention.

Chris Milburn
Chris Milburn
14 days ago
Reply to  Mary Bruels

I agree. I think it may not be coincidence that this blunder came to light just after Biden announced he would seek re-election in 2024.

Graeme McNeil
Graeme McNeil
14 days ago
Reply to  Saul D

Ah, still going with the laptop fantasy I see! Get Rudy Giuliani on the case – he’s awesome!

Saul D
Saul D
13 days ago
Reply to  Graeme McNeil

The laptop, and Hunter Biden, are still under investigation by the FBI with authentication of the laptop supported by Washington Post, CBS, among others, But I guess, like most people here, you’re reading widely, so you knew that. So why the word ‘fantasy’ and the use of snark? Is it a genuinely erroneous belief, or is there an agenda?

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
13 days ago
Reply to  Graeme McNeil

What is the laptop fantasy?

Derek Smith
Derek Smith
13 days ago
Reply to  Saul D

I think the impetus to look for documents with Biden came from those working for him. After all the hysteria surrounding the Trump documents, they wanted to make sure their guy didn’t have any – but quietly, of course.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
14 days ago

There is a fundamental difference between the 2 cases. Biden took those documents at the end of his VP term and had no authority to declassify. Trump, on the other hand, was President when he took those documents and claims he declassified all of them which he had the full authority to do without review by any underling petty bureaucrat.

Last edited 14 days ago by Johann Strauss
Graeme McNeil
Graeme McNeil
14 days ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Is this a regurgitation of Trump’s “I declassified them by thinking about it argument”?!?!?
The unceasing humiliation of Trump defenders is both hilarious and rather sad. Future generations will marvel at how a large number of otherwise mostly normal people could be so taken in by a low-rent conman from Queens that they will try to justify even the most bizarre statements and actions by a fat moron in an ill fitting suit.
Amazing…

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
13 days ago
Reply to  Graeme McNeil

I think you should think before you write. The fact is that The President” has the right and is the final arbiter on whether something is classified or not. This has got nothing to do with Trump and I would have said the same thing if the shoe were on the other foot.
Further, I would also say that this is a big fuss about nothing on both sides. The classification markings are often ludicrous and all the so-called top-secret information is information that’s readily available by just reading the newspapers.

polidori redux
polidori redux
13 days ago
Reply to  Graeme McNeil

Graeme is a conservative troll taking the piss. You’re overdoing it Graeme.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
14 days ago

I don’t understand how they can be so sloppy with classified documents. I know it’s anecdotal, but when I had to process U.K. classified documents the MOD were all over it with their tracking processes, and that was just the low level stuff. I can’t remember the exact rules but anything above about ‘secret’ required a fair degree of security in transport and verified storage – they even specify the standard of locks for filing cabinets.

Last edited 14 days ago by Ian Stewart
B Emery
B Emery
14 days ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

I’m glad we are better at it. It fills you with confidence in our US ‘allies’. Couple that with the US parts in iranian weapons. Once again I say, security is obviously TIGHT.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
13 days ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Having the markings makes it a lot easier for people like Philby to tell what to steal. Thus, generating huge quantities of b.s. classified documents is a kind of countermeasure. Secrecy by obsfucation.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
12 days ago

Yeah it did get a bit daft – they even classified documents that included material in the public domain. It made it really difficult to manage contractors and get security clearances.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
14 days ago

The most important difference between these events is that Trump (as President) had complete and unilateral authority to declassify anything he wanted to. Preisdents sometimes accidently declassify things by mentioning them in public — I bleieve Obama made this mistake fairly early in his term.
Trump is at least on marginally reasonable legal ground to say that he didn’t have anything declassified because his decision to remove the documents was an act of declassification while he was President. As Vice President though, Biden never had that authority.
In reality (which matters not a hill of beans in either case) this points not to either man’s culpability but to the fact that the volume of “classified information” is so large and the rules for handling is so Byzantine that no one with an security clearance as an elected or appointed official could possibly not run afoul of them.

Phillip Arundel
Phillip Arundel
14 days ago

One guy with a clearance took some home to work on them. He is in Leavenworth Prison!

The chain of process to take these is huge – they have to be carried in special containers, they always are accounted for. Biden stole these, he had NO right to them.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
13 days ago

The rules for handling them are strict, arbitrary, maddening at times,but hardly Byzantine.

Su Mac
Su Mac
15 days ago

“By all accounts, the way that Biden’s team reacted to their discovery contrasted sharply with the response of Trump’s team” Oh perlease…
The last paragraph made me laugh though. Thank goodness for an independent investigation to get to the bottom of exactly what happened. Yes, really.
Was this written by child labour?
Keep up the quality UnHerd or you will start losing readers soon enough.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
14 days ago
Reply to  Su Mac

The quality is fine, you just don’t like it because most writers try to be fairly even handed, while some write from a perspective you disagree with. If you want partisan nonsense then there are plenty of echo chambers to satisfy your needs elsewhere

Perry de Havilland
Perry de Havilland
14 days ago

The many similarities between Trump & Biden have long been obvious to anyone who isn’t American 😀

Phillip Arundel
Phillip Arundel
14 days ago

You mean how a aardvark and walrus are both similar as they are mammals? Because China Joe and MAGA Trump are as different as those.

Graeme McNeil
Graeme McNeil
13 days ago

You got one right finally!
The obese dumbo at Mar a Lago isn’t fit to tie Biden’s shoelaces.

Jeanie K
Jeanie K
12 days ago
Reply to  Graeme McNeil

Biden doesn’t have shoe laces. His shoes are fitted with velcro.

Erik Hildinger
Erik Hildinger
13 days ago

Isn’t a larger problem being missed? It seems unlikely that Biden, given his demonstrable mental decline, had any idea what was in his garage, apart from his Corvette. The real question is who was mishandling these documents and for what, if any, purpose. Won’t we be closer to the truth if we take Biden out of the equation? Of course, this raises other questions.
erikhildinger.com

Last edited 13 days ago by Erik Hildinger
Graeme McNeil
Graeme McNeil
13 days ago
Reply to  Erik Hildinger

Demonstrable?
Why don’t you demonstrate it then? I’ll wait.
Of course, Biden could suffer a 90% mental decline and still be many times smarter than the fat clown at Mar a Lago!

B Emery
B Emery
12 days ago
Reply to  Graeme McNeil

What are you an fbi pro biden bot?

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=H6uingtAWbk

The part where he says Afghanistan will be fine guys! We got 300,000 troops and an airforce against 75000 at the most talib*n. What could go wrong?

Last edited 11 days ago by B Emery
Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
12 days ago

How could Donald Trump “mishandle” classified information he alone had the power to declassify?

David Kingsworthy
David Kingsworthy
12 days ago

“Biden’s team immediately alerted the National Archives to what they had found and handed the files over.”
I believe the discovery was made 11/1 (just prior to the Midterm elections) but wasn’t immediately reported…. because we only saw reports this side of NYE.

James Steele
James Steele
11 days ago

Thank you “Puff the Magic Dragon”. This is such a pathetic puff piece it is ridiculous. The fact that Hunter has suspicious business dealings in Ukraine, and the fact that the Vice President does not have the authority to retain or declassify such documents is of no concern to you? The fact that Biden threatened Ukraine to fire a prosecutor or $$ would be withheld in the Obama admin. isn’t of concern . . ? How many of those documents are missing? Oh oops, he said something on 60 Minutes that will make him look like a hypocrite??
And let’s not even go into the insane amount of $$ money we are dumping into Ukraine at the moment, while documents relating to Ukraine are at his residence. This, and Trump’s are what should raise journalists’ suspicion and send them swarming.
Trump’s almost as bad, except for the issue that technically declassify and retain documents. In Trump fashion, it’s not exactly a textbook “declassification”, (if he even did) and it was terribly sloppy of both to keep them in view of perhaps casual guests at their residence.

Graeme McNeil
Graeme McNeil
14 days ago

The main difference is that Trump is a small time crook and swindler who is about to be criminally charged for his attempts to subvert American democracy. Any man who cheats at golf is not to be trusted and Trump cheats constantly.
Joe Biden is president of the United States.

Last edited 14 days ago by Graeme McNeil
B Emery
B Emery
14 days ago
Reply to  Graeme McNeil

OK your last sentence is just stating the obvious. Genius.

If trump is a small time crook, what is hunter biden? He took things a little further than cheating at golf didn’t he?

Graeme McNeil
Graeme McNeil
13 days ago
Reply to  B Emery

“OK your last sentence is just stating the obvious. Genius.”
Its called a comparison. I’ll wait while you go and google what that is.

B Emery
B Emery
13 days ago
Reply to  Graeme McNeil

How jolly decent of you.
Comparison:
a consideration or estimate of the similarities or dissimilarities between two things or people.
2.GRAMMAR
the formation of the comparative and superlative forms of adjectives and adverbs

OK I’ve done that.

So you are saying trump is a crook that cheats at golf compared to Joe biden who is the president of the US.

I was highlighting the fact the bidens are hardly whiter than white.
Trump was president and in your opinion a crook, so therefore surely based on your assessment – any old crook could be us president, which therefore doesn’t exclude biden. So I think your comparison is ridiculous. You can’t have it both ways. Genius.

Graeme McNeil
Graeme McNeil
12 days ago
Reply to  B Emery

“So you are saying trump is a crook that cheats at golf compared to Joe biden who is the president of the US.”
I said Trump is a small time crook but you are at least getting closer – well done!
Your last paragraph is utter nonsense unfortunately. Does reality ever intrude on you MAGA losers? It appears not – fortunately in the real world it is Trump who was recently convicted of tax fraud. Joe Biden remains president. Riddle me that!

B Emery
B Emery
12 days ago
Reply to  Graeme McNeil

Bless you. I’m british. I think all American politics are insane. I don’t give a flying f**k which numpty they put up as the front man. Like it makes much difference. Either way all we get is crazy.
I’m done riddling you, I saw you trolling, thought I’d return the favour. You’re pretty crap at it. I couldn’t resist.

Graeme McNeil
Graeme McNeil
12 days ago
Reply to  B Emery

On your way, son. Send in the first XI next time, not the reserves!

B Emery
B Emery
12 days ago
Reply to  Graeme McNeil

Loool yes sergeant! If you think you can handle it…..