Trump allies cite Clinton email probe to attack classified

Akash Arjun

Global Courant

WASHINGTON (AP) — If former president Donald Trump prepares for a memorable one appearance in court Tuesday up cost family of the hoarding of top secret documentsRepublican allies reinforce, without evidence, claims that he is the target of a political persecution.

To publicize their case, Trump’s backers quote the Decision of the Ministry of Justice in 2016 not to press charges against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent in that year’s presidential race, for her handling of classified information. His supporters also invoke one separate investigation into classified documents concerning President Joe Biden to claim that a two-tier justice system punishes Trump, the undisputed early leader for the GOP’s 2024 White House nomination, for conduct that the Democrats have engaged in.

“Is there a different standard for a Democratic secretary of state than for a former Republican president?” said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a primary Trump rival. “I think there should be one standard of justice in this country.”

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But those arguments overlook copious factual and legal differences—primarily regarding intent, state of mind, and deliberate obstruction—that limit the value of such comparisons.

A look at the Clinton, Biden and Trump investigations and what sets them apart:


Clinton conveniently relied on a private email system during her time as the Obama administration’s top diplomat. That decision continued to haunt her when she died in 2015 the internal watchdog of the intelligence services alerted the FBI to the presence of potentially hundreds of emails containing classified information.

FBI investigators would eventually conclude that Clinton sent and received emails containing classified information about that unclassified system, including information classified at the top secret level.

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Of the about 30,000 emails transferred by Clinton’s representatives, the FBI has said 110 emails in 52 email chains contained classified information, including some at the top-secret level.

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After about a year of investigation, the FBI closed the investigation in July 2016 and found that Clinton had no intention of breaking the law. The agency reopened the investigation months later, 11 days before the presidential election, after discovering a new batch of emails. After reviewing those communications, the FBI again chose not to recommend charges.

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The charge filed by the Department of Justice Special Prosecutor Jack Smith alleges that when Trump left the White House after his term expired in January 2021, he took hundreds of classified documents to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida — and then repeated attempts by the government he once oversaw to have the documents gain, obstructed back.

The material Trump retained, prosecutors say, related to U.S. nuclear programs, weapons and defense capabilities of the United States and abroad, and potential vulnerabilities to attack — information that, if made public, would jeopardize the security of military and human resources. could bring.

In addition to hoarding documents — in locations such as a bathroom, ballroom, shower and his bedroom — the Justice Department says Trump showed highly sensitive material to visitors who lacked security clearances and obstructed the FBI by sending a personal assistant, among other things. who was charged alongside him with moving boxes around Mar-a-Lago to hide them from investigators.

While Trump and his allies have argued that he could do whatever he wanted with the documents under the Presidential Records Act, the indictment debunks that argument and makes no reference to that statute once.

All told, the charges include 37 felonies against Trump, most of them under an espionage law related to the deliberate retention of national defense information.

WHAT separates the CLINTON AND TRUMP cases?

Many, but two main differences are whimsy and hindrance.

In an otherwise sternly critical review condemning Clinton’s email practices as “extremely careless,” then-FBI Director James Comey announced that investigators had found no clear evidence that Clinton or her aides intended to violate classified information laws.

As a result, he said, “no reasonable prosecutor” would proceed with a case. The relevant espionage law cases brought by the Justice Department over the past century were all factors at play, according to Comey, including attempts to obstruct justice, deliberate mishandling of classified documents, and the disclosure of vast amounts of documents. None of these factors was present in the Clinton investigation, he said.

That’s in stark contrast to the allegations against Trump, who prosecutors say was involved in packing boxes to go to Mar-a-Lago and then actively took steps to hide the classified documents from investigators.

For example, the indictment charges him with suggesting that a lawyer hides documents demanded by a Justice Department subpoena or falsely claiming that all requested documents were turned over even though more than 100 were left.

The indictment repeatedly quotes Trump’s own words against him to show that he understood what he was doing and what the law did and did not allow him to do. It describes a July 2021 meeting at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he showed a Pentagon “plan of attack” to those without the security clearances to view the material and proclaimed that “I could have declassified it as president. ”

“Now I can’t, you know, but this is still a secret,” the indictment quotes him as saying.

That conversation, captured by audio recording, is likely powerful piece of evidence to the extent that it undermines Trump’s oft-repeated claims that he released the documents he brought to Mar-a-Lago.


The White House announced in January that two months earlier, during a search of the office space of Biden’s former Washington institution, a Biden lawyer found a reportedly “small number” of classified documents from his time as vice president. The documents have been handed over to the Ministry of Justice.

Lawyers for Biden next found an extra batch of classified documents at Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, and the FBI found even more during a voluntary search.

The revelations were a humiliating setback to Biden’s attempts to draw a stark contrast between his handling of sensitive information and Trump’s. Yet, as with Clinton, there are big differences in the cases.

Although Attorney General Merrick Garland on January a second special counsel to examine the Biden documents, no charges have been filed and so far no evidence has emerged to suggest that anyone deliberately moved classified documents or attempted to obstruct the investigation.

While the FBI obtained a search warrant last August to recover additional classified documents, each of Biden’s searches has been done voluntarily with the consent of his team.

The Justice Department, meanwhile, Trump Vice President Mike Pence warned earlier this month that it would not press charges after the discovery of classified documents in his Indiana home. There were also no allegations of willful detention or obstruction in that case.


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More about Donald Trump-related investigations:

Trump allies cite Clinton email probe to attack classified

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