A Tale of Two Classified Document Scandals


Both Biden and Trump are involved in document scandals. (Courtesy of Twitter.)

During the last week, more than 16 classified documents have been found at President Joe Biden’s home in Delaware. Biden is, rightly so, facing backlash from this incident, especially considering that these documents are from his time as vice president. Many Americans this past week have questioned if we should judge Biden’s document scandal in the same way that we judge former President Donald Trump’s. However, as we learn more about the details of Biden’s scandal, the more clear it becomes that it is a completely unfair comparison between this case and Trump’s. 

Many people are looking to draw various comparisons between Biden’s document scandal and Trump’s without fully understanding the characteristics of each case. For starters, I believe that comparing political scandals is an extremely difficult task and, for the most part, should not be done. That being said, I do not believe these two offenses can be judged through the same lens, simply based on the scale of each case. Though both politicians wrongly took the documents, we must not ignore the key differences in these instances. 

The documents seized from Trump’s home in Mar-a-Lago are a completely different story than what we are dealing with in Biden’s situation. The main differences between these two scandals come down to the number of documents found, the content and the reaction of both presidents. Over 300 classified documents were seized by the FBI in Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago house. As for Biden, the number of documents found in his Delaware home is significantly less. This is not my attempt to justify Biden’s actions; I believe that both the current president and the former president are extremely wrong for removing classified documents from the White House. That being said, the sheer quantity of documents must be taken into account when comparing these two cases. 

How each president reacted to this issue must also be taken into account. The National Archives contacted the Trump administration in 2022 and requested the missing documents be returned. Trump put up a fight and did not hand them over right away. Eventually, he gave in and sent 15 boxes of documents back to the National Archives. The boxes contained 184 classified documents, as well as 25 that were marked top secret. The FBI would, later on, be granted a search warrant of Trump’s house to look for remaining documents. They ended up discovering over 300

Biden took a different approach and accepted responsibility for his mistake. The content of the documents found in Biden’s home was not of the same quantity or importance, though they were still classified. On top of that, the National Archives did not even realize Biden’s documents were missing. The White House counsel’s office was the one responsible to uncover these classified documents and took it upon themselves to inform the National Archives. 

Biden and Trump also differed in their reaction to the documents being seized. Biden was compliant and turned everything over as soon as the Archives requested the documents back, whereas Trump refused to accept responsibility and even resisted handing over the documents. He insisted that they were no longer classified documents; however, there was no evidence to back up his claim. 

These two scandals should be an important wake-up call for the National Archives. It is crucial to put more restrictions on classified documents to prevent a situation like this from occurring in the future. There is no need for presidents and vice presidents to have these classified documents stored at their homes, especially after their term is over. It is clear that the scale of these scandals is what makes them incomparable. 

The document scandals of Biden and Trump are two significantly different cases that should never have occurred. Both Biden and Trump have wrongly taken classified documents from the White House to their homes, but, as I stated earlier, the pure quantity of documents and the content makes these very different affairs. We should not and cannot judge the Biden document scandal the same as Trump’s.