Questions grow over DOJ’s ‘different treatment’ of Biden and Trump in classified docs probes

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Questions grow over DOJ's 'different treatment' of Biden and Trump in classified docs probes

WASHINGTON – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan blasted the Justice Department Wednesday after it reportedly allowed President Biden’s attorneys to search his Delaware homes for classified documents without FBI supervision — after not affording former President Donald Trump’s team the same opportunity during the raid on his Mar-a-Lago estate last August.

In an interview with Fox News, Jordan (R-Ohio) claimed whistleblowers had told him DOJ was doling out “different treatment under the law for different people, and that’s not supposed to be the way our justice system operates, and it’s not supposed to be operated on a political basis.”

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that instead of dispatching federal agents to conduct — or even monitor — the search of the 80-year-old president’s Wilmington and Rehoboth Beach residences, the DOJ asked Biden’s attorneys to notify them if they found any sensitive papers so law enforcement could take custody of them.

“The way they treated President Trump’s classified document issue and the way they’ve treated Joe Biden’s are entirely different,” Jordan told “The Story” host Martha MacCallum.

“They were offered a chance, DOJ was offered a chance, to accompany the lawyers. They said no,” he added. “But then when they finally did go, when they found these documents, when they finally did go get them, the White House counsel then goes with the Department of Justice officials.

“So they’ve done, it seems to me, everything backwards — or at least different — from what should have been done,” Jordan went on. “So we’re going to look at all this over the course of this Congress in the Judiciary Committee.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan
“The way they treated President Trump’s classified document issue and the way they’ve treated Joe Biden’s are entirely different,” said Chairman Jim Jordan.
Getty Images/Drew Angerer

By contrast, Trump’s attorneys were not allowed on Aug. 8 of last year to assist or even watch FBI agents go through the 45th president’s Palm Beach home and office, where more than 150 classified documents were stashed away.

George Mason University forensic science professor Steven Burmeister, a former FBI agent, told The Post the difference in the handling of the two cases “seems unusual” — particularly because the DOJ already knew Biden had previously kept secret and top secret documents in his former office at a Washington think tank.

“If you want to do equity across the board, then if you’re gonna do it in one case, you have to do it in another case,” Burmeister said. “If I’m in a legal case, I would pull out all the precedents that happened in the past – that’s the way you did it before, why are you now doing something different?”

The Journal report stated that the DOJ applied a light touch to the Biden document search because the president’s personal attorneys were deemed to be cooperating with the investigation.

University of Alabama professor Luke Hunt, a former FBI special agent, told The Post the Justice Department may not have had probable cause to believe a crime was committed or national security was threatened.

“The FBI’s mission is to protect the public and uphold the Constitution, which is typically accomplished through criminal and national security investigations involving federal law,” he said. “The unauthorized possession of classified material is obviously within the FBI’s purview, but their response will be constrained by the evidence they have.”

For example, Hunt said, if the DOJ believed Biden’s document stash in his DC office was unintentional and there was no intent to conceal or retain the material, “then the FBI would have less of an investigatory role.”

DELAWARE
The DOJ granted Biden document search because the president’s personal attorneys were cooperating with the investigation.
REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

But Burmeister said that by allowing the president’s attorneys to conduct the Delaware searches — and potentially disrupt the documents’ chain of custody — the Department may have undermined special counsel Robert Hur’s investigation.

“If the FBI is conducting a search of that residence, they’re the ones who would take custody of the evidence and maintain it all the way through the entire process,” he said. “The problem with any type of surrendering of information then, is the person who’s surrendering his hand picks what they want.”

A former Trump Justice Department official agreed, telling the Post that the decision “certainly doesn’t help the credibility of the White House or DOJ.

“Biden pledged to keep politics out [of Justice Department investigations], but treating these situations differently does not help that.”

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