Former President Donald Trump for now certainly seems to have had more documents labeled “classified” at Mar-a-Lago in Florida than did President Joe Biden at his various homes in Delaware.
Yet otherwise, the comparisons between the two cases, contrary to popular punditry, hardly favor Biden.
First, a stranger would face a far greater challenge entering a post-presidential Mar-a-Lago than a pre-presidential Biden home, office, or garage—or who knows where?
Secret service agents and private security were stationed at Mar-a-Lago. Prior to the 2020 presidential election they were not at citizen Biden’s various troves for most of 2017–2020, much less prior to 2009.
Second, we seem to forget that for much of the developing controversy, Biden’s own team was investigating Biden.
On the other hand, the Biden Administration’s Justice Department and the FBI were not just investigating Trump as an outside party, but as a former president—and possible 2024 presidential candidate and opponent of Biden himself.
Remember, the narrative of the first Democratic impeachment of Trump was the allegation that Trump had used his powers of the presidency to investigate Biden and his family, a likely 2020 challenger to Trump’s reelection bid.
Third, no one in a position of government authority had passed judgment on Biden’s alleged security violations.
That was not the case of the still alleged violations of Trump.
Biden, as president, had weighed in, during his own Justice Department’s ongoing investigations of Trump. Indeed, he proclaimed the former president to be guilty: “How could anyone be that irresponsible?” In contrast, he also dismissed the ongoing investigation of himself with “There is no there, there.”
Fourth, Trump is certainly right that as president he had a far more substantial claim of declassification rights than did Biden who took the papers out either as a senator or vice president.
Fifth, the FBI was not merely asymmetrical in melodramatically raiding the Trump home while allowing Biden lawyers to inspect various Biden stashes. The FBI also leaked the purported contents of the subjects of the Trump classified documents (falsely spreading the lie of “nuclear codes” and “nuclear secrets”) in a way it has not with the Biden cache.