Rep. Byron Donalds made the case on Sunday that President Joe Biden has violated the federal Espionage Act by keeping classified materials in his home and former office.
The Naples Republican, in an interview with Newsmax, noted that it was unclear at this point where any investigation, either criminal or by Congress, would lead.
But, he added, “Like we said from the beginning, a former vice president or anybody else has no ability to remove classified documents.”
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“Former presidents are different, and the reason why former presidents are different is because they are head of the executive branch, and they have the ability to declassify information and to classify information,” Donalds said.
The congressman said that has applied no matter who that former president was.
As former President Donald Trump faces a special prosecutor for allegedly keeping classified materials at his Mar-a-Lago estate, former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have had such documents in their possession after they left office.
“Joe Biden’s situation is very different,” Donalds maintained. “This is more akin to Hillary Clinton, where there are violations of the Espionage Act because they have removed classified information from secure facilities.”
“The intent is irrelevant. What you’ve done with it is irrelevant,” he added.
Donalds also noted that high-ranking politicians are given leeway that military personnel, for example, are not since they are routinely prosecuted for taking classified materials without authorization.
“This is a very serious issue,” Donalds added.
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“The American people need to understand it’s not about just what was by the tailpipe next to his Corvette,” said Donalds. “This is about when did Joe Biden remove classified documents. Any document he removed before he took the oath of office to become president of the United States is a violation of the Espionage Act.”
In reporting on Trump’s situation, the website Lawfare.com noted in August that federal courts have held that such materials must have a connection to “national defense.” But judges have tended to expand that definition very broadly.
Lawfare added the key part of the Espionage Act, according to courts, is that the materials “have not been made public and are not available to the general public” and that the disclosure of the documents must be “potentially damaging to the United States or [potentially] useful to an enemy of the United States.”