In politics for more than five decades, US President Joseph Biden should have been aware of Washington DC’s cardinal principle: paybacks are not only expensive but also brutal. And for someone who had been critical of Donald Trump’s possession of classified documents, Biden had no idea that months later he would be walking down a similar path. It really does not matter if the difference between the Republican and the Democratic Presidents came down to the total number of classified documents the Justice Department and the Special Counsels are handling; or which one of the two was “better” at cooperating with authorities. The bottomline: Biden and Trump both had classified material they were not supposed to be having.
The story of Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) landing at the Mar-a-Lago residence of former President Trump and carting away hundreds of classified material has become stale now. That Trump was in denial for months and had refused access to official authorities of the documents is well known is currently being investigated by a Special Counsel.
But Biden walked into a political minefield when CBS News reported on January 9 that on November 2 Presidential aides had stumbled upon 10 classified documents at the Penn Biden Center in Washington DC, a think-tank started by Biden in January 2017. The date of marking for the documents was Biden as Vice-President under President Barack Obama.
On December 20, additional classified documents were found in the garage of Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware; and six more documents were found in areas adjacent to the garage on January 11. The Attorney General who had already started a full fledged probe in the aftermath of the first revelation appointed Robert Hur, a Trump era US Attorney for the District of Maryland as a Special Counsel on January 11. But why did authorities, including the White House, take two months to make a disclosure; and that too the breaking news came not from the administration but from a media outlet. Also did the mid-term elections of November 8 have anything to do with keeping the issue under wraps?
The so-called distraction to Biden and the Democrats could not have come at a worse time: the President was slowly moving up in the approval charts; the economy was looking with inflation and gasoline prices coming down; and the job numbers looking good. Biden was supposed to make the final call on his re-election bid in March.
Rethink on re-election?
The current crisis may force the Democratic Party to rethink Biden’s plan to run for office again in 2024.
Republicans in the House of Representatives who are in a majority have started inundating the administration and White House with requests including the Visitors Log of President Biden’s Delaware home. To some hardline Republicans, Biden’s son Hunter Biden had always been a red rag; and some want to know when and how many times Hunter has been in the Wilmington home since January 20, 2021.
“On many political fronts, Biden’s touted 2024 campaign is potentially vulnerable. Democrats and the country as a whole would be much better off this year and next if he’s not running for President”, said Norman Solomon, a progressive Democrat.
Some in the political spectrum feel this could perhaps be an opportunity for Republicans and Democrats to get away from both Trump and Biden and look at a new generation of leaders for the 2024 election.
“The American people certainly deserve better choices — Republicans and Democrats. We shouldn’t have these men shoved down our throats”, Nina Turner, the Chair of Senator Bernie Sanders 2020 Presidential campaign has been quoted. And Senator Sanders has not ruled himself out for the next season!
The writer has been a senior journalist in Washington DC for 14 years covering North America and the UN