The revelations that top-secret documents were found at President Joe Biden's home and offices dating back to his tenure as vice president has agitated the political sphere and raised eyebrows about policies dictating how classified materials should be handled.
The concurrence to the criminal investigations into ex-President Donald Trump's mishandling of thousands of sensitive texts has led to accusations of hypocrisy by Republicans, who like Trump maintain that he had the right to take whatever he wanted from the White House when his term ended.
Biden's attorneys, when they realized what they had stumbled upon, immediately alerted the National Archives, which was unaware. Trump, however, strung the agency along and failed to return what the Archives requested, resulting in the now-infamous warranted search of his Mar-a-Lago estate by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in August.
How each scenario plays out ultimately rests with what Special Counsels Jack Smith and Robert Hur – appointed by the United States Department of Justice to get to the bottom of what really happened with Trump and Biden – determine in their respective probes.
But as former federal prosecutor and MSNBC legal analyst Joyce Vance pointed out on Monday morning, there is a key distinction that is being under-discussed regarding the two scandals – each man's intent.
"The detail that seems to be getting overlooked in the Biden documents stories: none of this would have come to light if Biden’s team had just stashed away what they found. We are where we are because they acted honestly and with integrity," Vance wrote.
Conservatives have started arguing that Biden's error means that Trump should be absolved. Vance douses that claim as well.
"There is a lot of concern that Biden’s sins will cancel out Trump’s. But that's not how the law works. Unless we are irretrievably broken, the special counsels will assess each case on its merits. Trump’s conduct/obstruction can be criminal, w/out Biden's meriting prosecution," she said.
"Example: Tom wants to kill X. Tom gets his car in place & runs them down at a stoplight, killing them. Meanwhile Bob is distracted while driving when someone who runs into the street. He accidentally hits X, killing them. You get the point. The key is intent. Apples to oranges," Vance continued. "GOP leaders who demand that visitor logs be released for Biden are the same people who tolerated the Trump WH’s refusal to release logs while he was in office, let alone for Mar-a-Lago. That's politics, not justice & needs to be called out."