If there is any one thought that can unite a weary public (along with the idea that Dolly Parton is the greatest living American), it’s that we’re sick of classified-information scandals. In 2015, a former director of the CIA pleaded guilty to unauthorized retention and removal of classified information. The next year, FBI Director James Comey condemned Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified information (even as he declined to recommend charges against her).
Last year, the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago to seize classified documents that Donald Trump had allegedly taken from the White House and withheld from the government. But that’s not the only thing that happened in 2022. In November, President Joe Biden’s lawyers allegedly discovered a small set of classified documents at a Washington think tank, the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.
After subsequent searches by Biden’s team revealed another set of classified documents at the president’s Wilmington, Delaware, home, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel, the former Trump-administration prosecutor Robert Hur, to investigate “the possible unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or other records discovered” in Biden’s home and his think tank.
There are now two special counsels investigating two presidents. In November, Garland appointed Jack Smith to investigate Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified information (along with allegations of unlawful interference with the 2020 transfer of power). Garland made the right call to appoint special counsels to investigate both presidents.
What else should we be thinking about this mess? I have a few thoughts.