Jonathan Turley Demolishes Joe Biden's Classified Documents 'Defense'

Bonnie Cash/Pool via AP

After the latest find of even more classified documents that were discovered on Thursday evening and announced on Saturday, it’s fair to say that the Biden classified document scandal is out of control.


We had White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre telling us that the search for any documents was “complete” repeatedly on Thursday, only to have them find even more that night, then not tell us until Saturday. That was on top of them not telling us of the original find, and even the Justice Department and the National Archives keeping quiet about that and the subsequent find on December 20, until CBS leaked the story this past week.

Yet, Joe Biden and White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre just keep saying that he takes classified documents seriously and they’re being serious. But their very actions fly in the face of those claims. And that’s not much of an excuse when he should never have removed the classified documents and kept them, to begin with, not to mention storing them in the unsecured places that he did, including next to his Corvette.

George Washington Law School professor Jonathan Turley previously scolded Biden for his “Corvette Standard” of security — claiming the documents were secure because they were locked up with the car. Now Turley is shooting down their excuses about taking things “seriously” and Karine Jean-Pierre acting like Joe Biden being “surprised” by the finds is somehow a good thing and a defense.


“This latest disclosure further undermines the mantra from the White House that this is a president who ‘takes classified documents very seriously,'” the George Washington University professor posted Saturday. “According to the lawyer, more documents were discovered in the process of just turning over previously discovered documents.

“The account shows that, over two months after the first discovery, the Biden team still did not complete a thorough search. It is chilling to think how the President would have proceeded if he didn’t ‘take classified documents seriously.'”

Turley added that “eventually” the “surprises become a bit less surprising.”

Turley also pointed out that the “continuing discoveries again raise questions over Biden relying on private counsel for these searches.” Instead of having the FBI or government counsel with clearances look for the documents, Biden created another exposure problem by having his private counsel do this.

Biden’s private counsel found a second batch of classified material. Even then, the president apparently continued to use outside lawyers rather than the FBI or White House staff for additional searches. That led to a third discovery of classified material … by private counsel.


Not only does that expose the documents to more people who are going to see the classified documents who may not have clearance to see them, but of course, then you also have to be concerned about Joe Biden’s team being the ones searching, and not the FBI, when they keep tripping over more documents. How do we know that we are getting the right story about anything, particularly when they already sat on this and didn’t tell us, and the DOJ and NARA seemed to follow suit? That’s the very opposite of transparency, indeed keeping it under wraps past the election.

But beyond that, as Turley explains, the defense isn’t much of a defense.

Indeed, they have admitted the material was classified and held in unsecured locations. It is a curious defense, however, since it is not an actual defense for this crime. Rather, it is more of a mitigating factor to influence charging or sentencing. In this case, Biden must be hoping that prosecutors will not bring a charge absent some showing of evil intent.

The “inadvertent mishandling” is as viable a criminal defense as Bill Clinton’s claim that he smoked marijuana but “didn’t inhale.” It is designed to suggest that, while the act may violate the law, the conduct is excusable. For Biden, the argument appears to be, “Yes, I removed the documents, but I didn’t use them.”
The White House mantra has locked Biden into a non-defense defense. Since federal law bars gross mishandling of classified material, it is not enough to say you lacked evil intent.


As Turley notes, the problem is that the documents weren’t just “inadvertently mishandled they were repeatedly mishandled since they were in three different locations and the documents at the Penn Biden Center had to be somewhere else first since if the documents were taken while Biden was VP and the Penn Biden Center didn’t open until 2018, which then exposed the documents to movers, staff and who knows how many other people.

Joe Biden has no real defense here. The only question is whether the DOJ is going to be honest and pursue the matter as it should.


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