The media want you to believe that Biden’s mishandling of classified documents is acceptable because he’s ‘cooperating’ with the investigation — but it’s a transparently dishonest argument.
It’s hard to read the news and not keep coming to the conclusion that the media think you’re stupid.
Case in point: On Wednesday, it was reported that the FBI was at President Biden’s home in Rehoboth, Delaware, once again scouring the place as part of its investigation into Biden’s mishandling of classified documents. It is at least the third time the FBI has searched Biden’s effects as part of the investigation, and one of those searches was done so discreetly it wasn’t public knowledge until months after the fact.
In addition to his home, classified documents were also found at the Penn-Biden center, the president’s Chinese-funded think tank. The Justice Department has also graciously trusted Biden’s personal attorneys — who did not have security clearances — to sift through his papers and identify any potentially incriminating documents without DOJ supervision.
These searches of Biden’s home and private papers came just a few months after the FBI raided former President Donald Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago for the identical crime of mishandling classified documents. The Biden situation is arguably worse since he allegedly retained classified documents from his Senate tenure, which doesn’t have any declassification authority that comes with the presidency. But now after weeks of breathless speculation about how the Justice Department prosecution could be used to keep Trump from running for president again, the media are at pains to explain why Trump’s crimes are somehow worse than Biden’s.
And so the media haven’t coalesced so much as collapsed around a central narrative: Biden’s violations of the law are somehow excused because he’s fully cooperating with the FBI investigation. As Exhibit A, here’s The New York Times write-up on the latest FBI search of Biden’s home:
WASHINGTON — The F.B.I. is conducting a search of President Biden’s vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Del., the president’s personal lawyer said on Wednesday morning, as investigators continue looking into his possession of classified documents.
The search, like at least two others conducted at locations associated with Mr. Biden, was undertaken with the cooperation of the president and his legal team. It was not clear whether any documents were recovered at the beach house.
“Today, with the president’s full support and cooperation, the D.O.J. is conducting a planned search of his home in Rehoboth, Del.,” Bob Bauer, Mr. Biden’s personal lawyer, said in statement.“Under D.O.J.’s standard procedures, in the interests of operational security and integrity, it sought to do this work without advance public notice, and we agreed to cooperate.”
So yes, they are downplaying that a sitting president is at the center of a months-long FBI investigation. This mere fact was routinely cited as disqualifying when Trump was president, regardless of how meritless the FBI’s Russia-collusion investigation proved to be. But you almost have to admire the chutzpah of framing the entire story around Biden’s exculpatory excuses, replete with a generous quote from Biden’s lawyer explaining as much.
Do note the sophistry of declaring that this was all done “under D.O.J.’s standard procedures” as if the FBI repeatedly, albeit reluctantly, digging through a sitting president’s house for evidence of crimes is just another day at the office.
Then there’s the declaration that “it sought to do this work without advance public notice, and we agreed to cooperate.” There’s a big difference between “without advance public notice” and being given no notice at all when armed federal agents show up over the same crime and start going through your wife’s underwear drawer. Similarly, you can detect a subtle difference between the way The New York Times runs ostensible press releases from Biden’s lawyer in the third paragraph, versus media outlets running with grossly misleading and possibly illegal leaks from the feds about what they found in their surprise raid of Trump.
Prior to Mar-a-Lago being raided, Trump’s attorneys had been communicating with the DOJ about their concerns that Trump might be illegally retaining classified documents. Were Trump and his legal team uncooperative? If Biden is allegedly cooperating more than Trump in parallel investigations of mishandling classified documents, how would we know? “Cooperation” in this context appears to be solely defined by Biden’s mouthpieces: a largely unaccountable federal agency that previously investigated Trump on demonstrably false charges and the credulous media.
Suffice to say, if you’re not a sitting Democratic president, don’t expect such deference — cooperation with the feds often doesn’t end well for ordinary citizens seeking justice. Earlier this week, pro-life activist Mark Houck was acquitted in one hour by a jury after being prosecuted for violating an obscure federal law — one with troubling First Amendment implications — that makes it a crime to “injure, intimidate or interfere with anyone providing abortion services.” Houck frequently protested in front of abortion facilities, as is his constitutional right, and got involved in a physical altercation with a volunteer Planned Parenthood escort.
Rather than blocking access to the facility, however, Houck says the altercation occurred because the volunteer was harassing his young son. Local authorities in Philadelphia declined to charge Houck with assault. Eventually, Planned Parenthood officials admitted the volunteer Houck said was going after his son had been spoken to “numerous times” about violating their “non-engagement policy.” A federal judge eventually said the application of federal law appeared “to be stretched a little thin here.”
Anyway, after being strung up on federal charges, a handful of Republican senators looked into the egregious prosecution of Houck. It’s quite clear that he did everything he reasonably could to cooperate with the federal investigation, in spite of the fact that the charges against him were vindictive and baseless from the start. And this is what that cooperation got him:
Mr. Houck retained an attorney, Matt Heffron, who is a former federal prosecutor. Mr. Heffron informed the committee that he communicated to Assistant U.S. Attorney Anita Eve twice via phone and left voice messages after she didn’t pick up. After not receiving a return call, Mr. Heffron emailed Ms. Eve to note that he left voice messages on May 21, 2022, and June 7, 2022, and said in his email that if the Department intended to indict Mr. Houck, he would receive the summons on Mr. Houck’s behalf and that he would appear voluntarily. According to Mr. Heffron, Ms. Eve did not respond. Mr. Heffron made clear to the committee that he and Mr. Houck were cooperative with the Justice Department; however, in return the Justice Department failed to communicate with them.
Given their cooperation with federal law enforcement, the family did not expect to be awakened at 7 a.m. with reportedly over 20 FBI agents surrounding their home wearing armor plated tactical vests, ballistic helmets and holding ballistic shields and long guns.
Mrs. Houck reportedly stated that “[t]hey said they were going to break in if [my husband] didn’t open [the door]. And then they had about five guns pointed at my husband, myself, and basically at my kids.” Based on allegations, when Mr. Houck opened the door he was handcuffed and arrested. Mr. Houck allegedly asked his wife for his rosary and a sweatshirt before being transported to jail.
The Justice Department does not care about “cooperation” — if it wants to prosecute you, it is going to prosecute you. Anyone who thinks it’s meaningful that Biden is said to be cooperating with the investigation into him is either knowingly making excuses or willfully blind to just how political the Justice Department has become.
Mark Hemingway is the Book Editor at The Federalist, and was formerly a senior writer at The Weekly Standard. Follow him on Twitter at @heminator