Having classified docs is more frequent than you might think — what Trump did was not: ex-FBI agent
Donald Trump/Joe Biden -- AFP/Biden Facebook page

Former FBI agent Peter Strzok penned a post to his Substack this week explaining to Americans that accidentally misplacing classified information is more frequent than one might assume.

In the wake of revelations that Donald Trump possessed over 13,000 documents, some of which were classified, former White House staffers were quick to say that were they to do something like that they'd be thrown in jail. In some ways they were correct. What Trump did by refusing to hand things over and making it clear that he took the documents intentionally would certainly cause trouble for any lower-level staffer.

But accidentally mishandling or grabbing classified documents at higher levels isn't uncommon.

At the FBI Strzok investigated those incidents. He agreed it was "serious business," but the overwhelming majority of the time it's unintentional and not espionage.

IN OTHER NEWS: Trump makes last-ditch effort to save Peter Navarro from prosecution

"On a daily basis somewhere in the federal government, someone accidentally inserts classified information into an unclassified email, or takes home a stack of paper which has some classified in the middle of the pile, or misplaces a briefcase with classified information in it on the metro or at a conference," he wrote.

"When I was the head of the FBI’s Counterespionage Section, on a monthly basis, if not more, we’d get calls from various agencies telling us they’d come across a scenario like I just described, asking us if we would open a case. The subsequent discussion inevitably centered around one critical question: what did they know about the intent of the person who had mishandled the classified information?" Strzok went on.

This is the key reason that so many legal analysts have focused on the question of "intent" over the past few weeks in comparing Trump to Biden and now Mike Pence.

As former FBI general counsel Andrew Weissmann explained earlier this month, the difference is in spilling a glass of milk vs. throwing a glass of milk in someone's face.

READ MORE: ‘Was that OK?’ Trump Jr. seeks reassurances from girlfriend during rocky premier of new Rumble show

As of last week, the grand jury has already called witnesses to answer questions about Trump's motives for taking the information he did.

"Insight into the president’s frame of mind—his intent and motivation, are likely to be the foundational building blocks of any case that the special counsel considers seeking against Trump," longtime journalist Murray Waas first reported.

Strzok explained that the main questions he posed as an investigator were:

1. Did the person intentionally and willfully mishandle it?

2. Was there a lot of documents?

"I’m not talking about tens of documents - I mean tens of thousands or more, Chelsea Manning or allegedly Edward Snowden amounts of material," he clarified.

3. Was anyone else involved that was linked to a foreign power or the media that would indicate any kind of disloyalty to the United States?

4. Did the person try to obstruct the investigation, try to destroy evidence or lie in any way?

Walking through the timeline, some of these questions can already be answered about Trump vs. Biden simply with the information available publicly. Strzok goes on to lay those pieces out and give specifics. Pence will likely be similar in that he too quickly cooperated with the Justice Department and FBI.

"One more point before diving into Trump’s and Biden’s behavior. I spent a fair amount of my professional life in wealth and power-adjacent settings, usually in a governmental context. One thing that may not be apparent is the administrative complexity of the life of a cabinet-level employee (or Senator or Vice President or President)," he explained. "Time and attention are at a premium. Very senior employees have staff which prepare and present material in advance of meetings and who remove it when the meetings are complete. They have security details, drivers, their own aircraft. They have advisors, attorneys, public affairs specialists, cooks, people who run errands, plan their schedules, ensure bananas are cut in the precise way they prefer, mow their lawns, pack things, and unpack things. What most of us experience as the administrative burden of moving through life is not done alone but rather by a team - sometime a team of hundreds."

He said that to demonstrate that it's entirely possible for a higher-level person to have a few things swept up. What is not normal, however, is 15-20 boxes of documents being "accidentally" taken.

Read the full piece here.