The bottom line is that Biden isn’t going down over his collection of classified documents. At least not legally. Even if he goes down politically, any potential charges, in the unlikely possibility that there are any, will fall to some patsy. And the lawyers who got the ball rolling would like to clarify that they are not going to be the patsies.
President Biden’s lawyers told the Justice Department in November that they had no reason to believe that copies of official records from his vice presidency had ended up anywhere beyond a think tank in Washington, where several classified documents had been found that month, two people familiar with the matter said on Sunday.
The mistaken premise, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter, helps explain why roughly seven weeks elapsed before Mr. Biden’s lawyers searched boxes in the garage at his Wilmington home on Dec. 20 and found several more classified papers.
Once you find some classified documents where they’re not supposed to be, there’s good reason to think there might be more where those came from. But formally having no reason to believe is a good blank check. And if the lawyers are patsies, they were sent to handle document clean-up with no warning of what they might find.
Former officials familiar with the packing up of Mr. Biden’s office in the White House and the vice president’s Naval Observatory home at the end of the Obama administration had told Mr. Biden’s lawyers that there were two primary sets of materials, the people said.One set was believed to be material that might be useful to Mr. Biden for his post-vice-presidential career in public life or teaching, like his speeches and unclassified policy memos about topics he was interested in. Those materials were initially shipped to two transition offices and then on to his office at the Penn Biden Center when it opened in 2018. (The National Archives and Records Administration would keep original copies of the official records.)The other set, the people said, was believed to contain no official records. It was supposed to be material like political campaign-related documents and old campaign memorabilia, which are exceptions to what counts as presidential records. Those boxes were shipped to the garage of his Wilmington residence, the people said.