Barack Obama is seen at a rally for Senator Raphael Warnock in Atlanta on December 1. The former president's spokeswoman would not say whether he is now checking whether classified material has been mistakenly kept in his own residences

 

Obama refuses to say if he’s searching for classified documents – as New York Times claims Biden scandal makes it harder to prosecute Trump

Barack Obama’s spokesperson refused on Tuesday to say whether the former president was searching his homes for classified documents, as The New York Times reported that prosecuting Donald Trump for mishandling files could be complicated by Joe Biden’s own classified chaos.

With the saga growing – Trump dragged his heels for 15 months and is now being investigated by a special counsel; Biden said he had ‘no regrets’, yet five searches have now yielded documents – on Tuesday it emerged that Mike Pence, the former vice president, had found also classified documents at his own Indiana home.

Obama’s communications director, Hannah Hankins, was asked on Tuesday by Fox News whether he too was searching his homes.

‘We have nothing for you at this time,’ she told the channel.

Barack Obama is seen at a rally for Senator Raphael Warnock in Atlanta on December 1. The former president's spokeswoman would not say whether he is now checking whether classified material has been mistakenly kept in his own residences

Barack Obama is seen at a rally for Senator Raphael Warnock in Atlanta on December 1. The former president’s spokeswoman would not say whether he is now checking whether classified material has been mistakenly kept in his own residences

Joe Biden is seen at the White House on Tuesday

Donald Trump is being investigated by a special counsel over his handling of classified documents

Joe Biden (left) and Donald Trump (right) are both being investigated by special counsels over their handling of classified material

George W. Bush’s office has said he turned over all classified documents upon leaving the White House.

Some legal experts have now concluded that Biden’s clumsy handling of the classified material could make prosecuting Trump harder – even though the cases appear to be very different.

Biden and his team alerted the Justice Department to the presence of the files and handed them over, while Trump spent months arguing about the circumstances of his own papers.

‘Politically it has effectively let former President Donald J. Trump off the hook for hoarding secret papers,’ wrote Peter Baker, chief White House correspondent for The New York Times.

David Axelrod, a former senior adviser to Obama, told Baker that although Trump’s actions and Biden’s were dramatically different, ‘in the court of public opinion’ they may be perceived as equal.

At least a few documents were found in Biden's garage at his Wilmington, Delaware, home, where he stores his vintage Corvette. Biden's sons, Beau and Hunter, rebuilt the car for him

At least a few documents were found in Biden’s garage at his Wilmington, Delaware, home, where he stores his vintage Corvette. Biden’s sons, Beau and Hunter, rebuilt the car for him

A box labeled 'Important Doc's + Photos' appears to have been left unsealed on a table in the Delaware home of President Joe Biden, in a photo released Friday from Hunter Biden's laptop

A box labeled ‘Important Doc’s + Photos’ appears to have been left unsealed on a table in the Delaware home of President Joe Biden

Pictured are some of the classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago, following the August 8 raid

Pictured are some of the classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago, following the August 8 raid

The latest poll shows American voters believe both Biden and Trump are at fault – although most concede that Trump’s actions were more egregious.

Among those surveyed by ABC News and Ipsos, 77 percent said Trump acted inappropriately in handling classified documents, and 64 percent said Biden had.

Trump is seizing the moment to downplay his own behavior and insist he is being treated unfairly, telling supporters at a rally last week that he was ‘being persecuted’ by a ‘Trump-deranged’ special prosecutor – while Biden ‘is being given white-glove treatment.’

Stanley M. Brand, a Washington DC lawyer who previously served as general counsel to the House of Representatives, told the paper that Trump could well challenge the process.

‘There is also the issue of selective prosecution: treating similar cases differently based on a suspect classification or criteria,’ said Brand, adding that Merrick Garland, the attorney general, was now in the complicated position of being appointed by Biden and overseeing the special counsel investigating him.

‘I would allege that as an appointee of the president, he is conflicted,’ he said. ‘A conflict that can’t be resolved by appointment of a special counsel, since under the D.O.J. regulation he retains ultimate responsibility.’

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