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OPINION

Is Biden the First President to Mishandle Classified Documents While In Office?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Evan Vucci

In U.S. history there may never have been a time when a sitting president of the United States grossly mishandled or did not properly secure classified documents until President Joe Biden.

Depending on what is contained in the documents and who had access to them, significant damage could have been done or could be done to the United States and its allies.

Character, trustworthiness, competence, and veracity all matter. When all is said and done, we must be confident that Biden will shine on each attribute.

A president's good judgment and laser-like focus on matters that help the nation and world are essential. Distractions act as a cancer in an administration.

Even while watching the NFL Playoffs, Biden easily has the power to alter the course of history. Any errors made can wrongfully enrich industries, organizations, and individuals.

What is the worst-case scenario? If there are nefarious actions caused by the wrong people having access to the classified documents, which prove damaging now or in the future, intense investigations should reveal those responsible and the appropriate punishments.

As we move forward, we can learn by looking back to past presidents. If we are not careful, harmful events in our history can be repeated.

Bill Clinton was the first and only president to plead guilty to a felony while in office. And Richard Nixon was the first and only president to resign while in office. Both were also impeached by Congress.

In both instances they had memorable quotes that stood the test of time. And both were involved in relatively innocuous events that, because of their actions and lack of veracity, started a bonfire.

One was the aftermath of a "third-rate" burglary, a crime, and the other involved infidelity, not a crime, but a huge headache.

It was the cover-up and stubbornness, as well as the feeling that by being president they would be able to get by. Also, it was a huge distraction to them both while in office.

In a recent poll 64% of Americans were troubled by Biden's handling of classified documents. That was before he claimed "there's no there there," which was followed by an FBI search of his home in Wilmington, Delaware, where they found more "there there." Note: Never has the FBI needed to search the home of a sitting president.

Clinton, prior to his impeachment and guilty plea for lying under oath, said, "It depends on what the meaning of "is is." Biden's "there there" and Clinton's "is is" are both phrases that came back to haunt them.

Being bipartisan with my criticism, we will also never forget Nixon's comments during Watergate.

Is Biden's "I have no regrets" comment as flippant as Nixon's remark: "People want to know that their president is not a crook." Somewhat similar? Both seem to believe they did nothing wrong.

Clinton vs. Biden? Inappropriate sexual relations with a White House intern and the inappropriate handling of classified documents affecting our national security, represent a gulf in their differences. Both acts were done while they were sitting presidents, however.

Both Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew were forced to resign due to their admitted crimes. We have also seen a sitting vice president and former vice presidents indicted. Our justice system has proven that no person is above the law.

But the problem is that investigations into Biden's handling of classified documents did not get off to a good start. The first set of documents was discovered back in early November. It was not revealed to the public prior to the midterm elections. This was an overt failure of the Justice Department to not inform the American public before an important vote to determine control of Congress. It took more than two months to state a very apparent violation of the law. The American people deserve to know exactly why it took so long to reveal the mishandling of the classified documents and why they received the information only due to a leak.

The liberal media likes to draw comparisons between Biden, former President Donald Trump, and now former Vice President Mike Pence. All three retained classified documents while "out" of office. But let us not forget the major difference. Biden mishandled classified documents while "in" office, and while serving as president.

Also, in the six or seven years Biden had the documents (maybe more?), there is reason to believe that others may have had access to them. And even prior to November, as president, others may have had access to them. The Justice Department should address each possibility accordingly, while prioritizing what could be a big threat to America.

I trust and pray for Biden and more importantly for our nation that "there is no there there." And, in the meantime, let's fix a broken system.

Gary Franks served three terms as U.S. representative for Connecticut's 5th District. He was the first Black Republican elected to the House in nearly 60 years and New England's first Black member of the House. Host: podcast "We Speak Frankly." Author: "With God, For God, and For Country." @GaryFranks

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