One of the biggest legal issues Donald Trump is currently facing is the criminal investigation into his decision to take classified documents out of the White House with him when he left and subsequently refuse to give them back, despite being ordered to do so on numerous occasions. “Given the details of the case and all the related [possible] charges, I don’t know how the DOJ doesn’t prosecute Trump,” attorney George Conway told Salon in October. “And I don’t know how Trump is not convicted, especially if he is tried in the District of Columbia.” At the moment, legally, it does not appear that anything has changed re: the ex-president’s legal peril (According to The New York Times, special counsel Jack Smith has “asked prosecutors to stress-test potential charges related to” Trump’s “handling of national security documents,” and has “called back key witnesses to scrutinize their accounts and present more information before the grand jury.”) Optically and politically, though, he recently scored two major breaks—first, when lawyers for Joe Biden found classified documents from his time as vice president and as a senator in various locations they weren’t supposed to be, and second, when it was revealed on Tuesday that a lawyer for Mike Pence had reportedly found approximately one dozen classified documents at the former VP’s Indiana home.
Yes, after he said, on camera, that such a thing wasn’t possible:
And that Biden should be ashamed of himself:
In a letter sent to the National Archives that was obtained by CNN, Pence’s attorney Greg Jacob wrote that a “small number of documents bearing classified markings” were accidentally sent to the VP’s home. “Vice President Pence was unaware of the existence of sensitive or classified documents at his personal residence,” Jacob insisted. “Vice President Pence understands the high importance of protecting sensitive and classified information and stands ready and willing to cooperate fully with the National Archives and any appropriate inquiry.”
Are the Biden and Trump situations remotely comparable? Not as far as we know, given that what we know is that Biden’s team immediately turned the documents over to the government when they were found, and has been cooperating with the investigation from the start, while Trump lied so many times about having documents at Mar-a-Lago that the FBI had no choice but to raid the place in August. (And after that, still more documents were found.) Also, the ex-president is very much not cooperating with the investigation into his handling of documents, unless baselessly claiming that the FBI planted evidence at Mar-a-Lago is considered cooperating. As for Pence, it’s too early to say; while he certainly did a lot of fucked-up stuff as VP, the odds are that Mother Boy did not knowingly retain documents that were not his to take, or defy a subpoena from the government to turn them back over.
Of course, Republicans and their followers aren’t known for appreciating nuance or facts, meaning that, at least in their eyes, all of this is incredible news for Trump, and further proof that he did nothing wrong. One might event expect the ex-president to call up Pence and express his gratitude; maybe even say something about being sorry for reportedly calling the guy a “pussy” and saying he deserved those chants calling for him to be hanged!
At the very least, Trump is seemingly so grateful for Pence to take the heat off of him that he was willing to log on to Truth Social today and offer a full-throated defense of the guy who he, again, recently claimed deserved to have people calling for him to be violently killed, writing: “Mike Pence is an innocent man. He never did anything knowingly dishonest in his life. Leave him alone!!!”