TRUMP IS RIGHT: The double standard in classified document treatment between presidents is GLARING

2DEWXF4 WASHINGTON DC, USA - 26 November 2020 - President Donald J. Trump speaks with military service personnel Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020, during a Thanksgivin

Op-ed by Summer Lane | Photo: Alamy

President Trump smacked down the shameless double standard of treatment between former presidents like George W. Bush and himself during an electric Save America rally in Mesa, Arizona, last week. “Just look at how every other president has been treated when they left office – they’ve been treated beautifully,” he said.

Trump’s comments came on the heels of an intense battle over allegedly classified documents that the FBI seized during an August raid on his private Florida home, Mar-a-Lago.

Since the seizure, the debate over how former presidents have handled possession of supposedly classified documents and records has intensified, drawing attention to the double standard.

“There is no ‘crime’ having to do with the storage of documents at Mar-a- Lago, only in the minds of the Radical Left Lunatics who are destroying our Country, and were just forced by the Courts to give me back much of what they took (STOLE?) during their unprecedented and unnecessary break in of my home,” Trump wrote in a post shared to Truth Social this week, eviscerating the narrative that he had done anything out of the ordinary.

Trump’s claim of innocence has plenty of facts to back it up.

Bill Clinton and His Socks

President Trump has referenced Bill Clinton several times to illustrate the justice system’s hypocrisy in classified document treatment, alluding to the Judicial Watch v. National Archives and Records Administration case that arose several years ago.  

According to a report from John Solomon for Just the News, the case revolved around audio tapes that were kept in Clinton’s sock drawer while he was in the White House. Per the memorandum opinion, U.S. District Judge Jackson ruled that the decision to “segregate personal materials from Presidential records is made by the President, during the President’s term and in his sole discretion.”

President Trump took to Truth Social to comment on the 2012 ruling. He wrote, “The Clinton ‘Socks Case,’ which is law, says it all belongs to ‘the President,’ NO CRIME, and the Presidential Record Act is simple, ‘negotiate,’ and NO CRIME. These people are CRAZY!!!”

According to the search warrant used to raid Trump’s home, the FBI was primarily looking for classified documents and information, as previously reported by RSBN. However, the judge in the Clinton “Socks Case” established that documents could be declassified by the President of the United States when he deemed it necessary to do so.

This begs the question: why did the FBI raid Trump’s home for documents that were, as Trump has previously stated, already “declassified”? Trump has also said that the documents were well-secured and kept under lock and key, at the request of the DOJ.

Millions of Missing Bush Emails  

In Arizona, Trump told a crowd of eager rallygoers that former President George W. Bush had stored 68 million pages of documents in a Texas warehouse and that he had also “lost” 22 million “White House emails.”

A 2016 article from Newsweek referenced by Trump on Truth Social alleged that during Bush’s administration, the White House reportedly lost 22 million emails written during the chaos of the Iraq War.

President of Judicial Watch, Tom Fitton, comments on the double standard at the DOJ.

Further, the outlet reported that the Bush White House supposedly used a private email server that the Republican National Committee owned, claiming that not only were millions of emails lost but that there were “email system blackouts” as well as periods when then-Vice President Dick Cheney had no record of archived emails at all.

“When will they investigate and prosecute Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, George Bush, and look into what took place with George Bush’s father and the warehouse of documents had by Barack Hussein Obama?” Trump remarked last week.

Nobody can seem to answer that question.

Obama Lost a Few Things, Too

Former President Barack Obama’s administration reportedly fumbled the ball a few times when it came to properly transferring records to the National Archives. A 2018 report from Real Clear Politics (RCP) revealed that when David Ferreiro, the then-archivist of the U.S., was moving the Obama administration’s records into the archives, he realized that an enormous number of records were missing.

Trump points out the glaring double standard in document treatment between presidential administrations.

The RCP report alleged that Obama’s administration destroyed government records, despite Obama’s move in 2014 to sign the 1950 Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments that would supposedly safeguard digital classified records from being removed without authorization.

The report stated:

“And yet the accumulation of recent congressional testimony has made it clear that the Obama administration itself engaged in the wholesale destruction and ‘loss’ of tens of thousands of government records covered under the act as well as the intentional evasion of the government records recording system by engaging in private email exchanges.”

Trump has also claimed that “Barack Hussein Obama moved more than 20 truckloads of over 33 million pages of documents – both classified and unclassified to a poorly built, totally unsafe…a furniture store located in a rather bad neighborhood in Chicago.”

Regarding government records and emails, the bottom line is obvious: former presidents are generally free to do as they wish.

That is, until Trump, of course.

Trump and the Presidential Records Act

In 1978, the Presidential Records Act was established, which, per the National Archives, “changed the legal ownership of the official records of the President from private to public, and established a new statutory structure under which Presidents, and subsequently NARA, must manage the records of their Administrations.”

Via Newsweek, the PRA essentially required all presidential and vice-presidential records starting in 1981 (during the Reagan administration) to be preserved. However, former presidential administrations reportedly did not always comply with the PRA in terms of preserving their emails, as demonstrated in the case of the Bush White House.

If Trump’s claims, for example, that Obama did indeed remove documents to a private location in Chicago that was “poorly built” and “totally unsafe,” are true, then why hasn’t Obama been scrutinized as heavily as Trump has for “removing” classified documents?

Why has Bush escaped criticism? Why hasn’t Bill Clinton garnered national media attention for the same thing?

“They could have had it [documents] anytime they wanted – and that includes LONG ago,” Trump stated in August. “ALL THEY HAD TO DO WAS ASK.”

So, why didn’t the Justice Department “ask”? Why did they find it necessary to raid the home of a former president who, broadly speaking, should enjoy the same treatment of privilege and power to declassify documents as any other president that came before him?

Clinton, Bush, and Obama were never substantially criticized, severely legally attacked, or questioned for taking documents with them when they left the White House. This duplicitous treatment from the Justice Department sadly demonstrates a chilling double standard of political deference that has left Americans’ trust in the U.S. justice system in tatters.

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