Former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal joined with the former FBI general counsel Andrew Weissmann and national security lawyer Bradley Moss in discussing the recent revelations that President Joe Biden had about 10 classified documents in a locked storage room at the Penn Biden Center along with his other documents
According to the report, Biden's lawyers made the discovery, and contacted the White House counsel, which then reached out to the National Archives which didn't even know the documents were missing and had never reached out to Biden about them. The documents were returned immediately and referred to the Justice Department for further investigation.
As MSNBC's Rachel Maddow pointed out, for a short time there was a "flurry of excitement" by the Republicans who thought this would equalize Biden with former President Donald Trump, who stole over 13,000 documents from the White House, refused to return them and conspired to publicize them.
Moss spent the early evening walking through the differences on Twitter between Biden and Trump, saying that if people can't see the difference between doing the right thing and returning the documents immediately and Trump refusing to turn over anything for over a year, "I can't help you."
"At the end of the day," Weissmann explained. "Depending on what the boxes are in both situations, it's important that if the boxes are the same or close, the two should be treated exactly the same. As what it means to be a nation of laws. Whether you like one person or dislike another person, it's irrelevant in terms of how you treat them under the law. I agree with Bradley, the truth of what we know so far, I would say a huge fundamental difference, in addition to what Bradley talked about, is intent."
Weissmann said that the law treats someone differently if they act in good faith vs. not. He described it as the difference between knocking over a glass of milk and throwing it at someone.
"One is something that is dealt with under criminal law, and the other is accidental spilling," he said. "It's really important for people to understand what it means to be a crime. It means that you acted knowingly and willingly, and with intent. The crime here is knowingly and with intent, improperly retaining classified information. The evidence of that, as Bradley talked about, is with respect to the former president, so far. But we have learned with respect to the documents, the President Biden had when he was a former vice president, it does not appear to be anything close to the — anything like that. It just seems like the inadvertence of retention of documents upon discovery. It was exactly what you would want somebody to do, he handled it exactly the way you would, and not, as Bradley said, doing everything you can to obstruct the return of those documents."
Trump world wants Americans to view it as an "everyone does it" kind of situation, but Neal Katyal said that Republicans trying to make an equivalency between the two would only make Trump look worse.
"There's a way that this story could reaffirm the need to prosecute Donald Trump, because they're already marching on TV, 'look at everybody doing it!'" he said. "But you have to know three things: One, what these documents are. Two, how Biden reacted to it. And three as Andy was saying, what is the level of criminal intent? I suspect there will be more differences than similarities between Biden and the Trump-stolen Mar-a-Lago documents. At a minimum, I have no doubt that Biden will not blatantly disregard a subpoena, or trying to harass prosecutors, or throw temper tantrums on social media in response to this investigation."
See the full conversation in the video below or at the link here:
It's like spilling a glass of milk vs. throwing a glass of milk at someone youtu.be