Trump and Biden teams jump over Pence release as classified documents defense

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CNN

Advisers to former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden jumped at the news of classified documents found at former Vice President Mike Pence’s Indiana home, with both seeing it as a useful defense in their own document investigations.

The Biden team continues to draw a distinction between him and Trump when it comes to handling classified documents, and the parallels between the Pence and Biden cases served to sharpen that argument in the early fallout.

But sources familiar with the two cases acknowledged on Tuesday that new revelations about classified materials found at Pence’s home help his cause.

On the one hand, Trump’s legal team views the news of classified documents found at Pence’s home as a positive development for the former president, believing that the discovery, along with Biden’s own ongoing special counsel investigation related to the handling confidential documents, changes the dynamics of the Justice Department’s investigation of the former president, according to a source familiar with the matter.

While the circumstances are different in each case, members of Trump’s legal team believe these developments will make it more difficult for prosecutors to substantiate criminal charges against any of them, the source said.

Biden officials, meanwhile, were relieved by the news, according to sources who told CNN that the Pence news “turns the temperature down for being a Biden-only story.”

Another source familiar with the investigation compared the steps Pence took after the discovery of classified documents to Biden’s data. Pence turned over a dozen or so documents marked as classified to the FBI shortly after discovering them.

When Biden’s team found classified documents in his think tank office in Washington, D.C., in November, they immediately notified the National Archives, which in turn notified the Department of Justice, although the discovery was not made public for weeks.

“It appears that Pence followed an initial process very similar to Biden’s in terms of voluntarily reviewing materials and promptly releasing them to appropriate authorities when they were found, all made public by a media report,” the source said.

The FBI searched Biden’s home only recently, months after the first classified material was found. Biden’s team uncovered documents in multiple locations between November and January.

But Trump allies have also embraced the Pence news and believe it further blurs the lines between the three cases.

“They are now all linked in some way,” said the source familiar with the thinking of Trump’s legal team, referring to Pence, Biden and Trump.

The Trump team also believes that the Biden and Pence revelations support their argument that this should not be treated as a criminal matter, but rather as an administrative review of the White House process for handling classified material overseen by the Office of the Director of Public Affairs. National Intelligence, the source said. .

The special counsel’s investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents is also looking into possible obstruction of justice. Meanwhile, the Justice Department has released a review of Pence’s documents and how they ended up in her Indiana home.

Trump reacted to the discovery of the Pence documents on Tuesday, writing on Truth Social: “Mike Pence is an innocent man. He has never done anything intentionally dishonest in his life. Leave him alone!!”

Former Trump official says confidential Pence documents bolster Biden’s case for him

To Biden administration officials and allies, who have come under siege in recent weeks through multiple disclosures of confidential documents found in Biden’s private office in Washington, D.C., and later at his home in Wilmington, Delaware, Pence’s headline was welcome news – and even quietly celebrated.

As one senior administration official put it, “It turns the temperature down by being a Biden-only story.”

One hope, that official said, was that the discovery of classified documents at Pence’s home would help underscore that Biden’s aides clearly weren’t alone in making the mistake of packing up confidential documents that should have been turned over to the National Archives.

Another hope: The development could be used by the White House to try to emphasize that the most important thing is how the situation was handled after the classified documents were discovered – and continue to make the distinction between Biden’s legal team’s handling of the matter compared with the actions of Trump and his allies.

The White House largely deflected questions about Pence’s news on Tuesday. The decision not to be publicly involved in the discovery was in part tied to the White House’s longstanding effort not to become involved in ongoing reviews and investigations, an official said, pointing to the need to maintain consistency in that stance.

But there was also a view that there was more value in letting Pence’s development stand on its own — a very different tactic than the deliberate contrast with the Trump case.

But it’s one that underscores the careful navigation of what one official acknowledged was a “useful example” of another former vice president, dealing with issues that appeared to stem from the transition out of office, who publicly stated that he did not know what confidential documents were in your power. possession. What wasn’t said was the clear value of the fact that the former vice president served in a Republican administration.

Furthermore, the official added, “We’ll let you draw the conclusions about what this all means.”

That doesn’t mean officials weren’t paying close attention to events throughout the day — an effort that included keeping an eye on Republican responses to news of Pence on Capitol Hill, with a particular interest in those Republicans who led or promised investigations. in Biden.

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