Speaking on Newsmax’s “Wake Up America” program, GOP Rep. Byron Donalds ripped into President Joe Biden for the classified document scandal, claiming that what Biden did is more than enough to implicate him in Espionage Act violations.
Rep. Donalds, making that point and noting that the Vice President, unlike the President, does not have the legal ability to declassify documents, which is what separates the Biden situation from the Trump one, said “To be blunt, I really don’t know where we go from here. We said from the beginning a former vice president or anybody else has no ability to remove classified documents.”
Continuing, he noted that presidents can and do take documents, saying “We know former presidents take documents. The National Archives know they take documents, and that’s something that’s consistently occurred, no matter who the occupant of the White House was.”
But, Rep. Donalds then noted, Biden’s situation is very different. That’s because of the aforementioned lack of legal ability to declassify and then take home documents. Instead, Biden was illegally removing them from a secure facility when he took them home or to the U Penn Biden Center. Rep. Donalds, making that point and connecting Biden’s actions to Hillary Clinton’s said:
“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.”
Rep. Donalds then went on to claim that Biden violated the Espionage Act in taking the documents, saying “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.”
Donalds likely brought that Act up because it was a legal authority cited in the warrant used by the FBI to raid Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home. Specifically, the warrant utilized Section 793 of the Espionage Act, which is the section that pertains to the “gathering, transmitting or losing defense information.” Based on the reported nature of the Biden documents, foreign policy, that section could also be implicated here.
Emphasizing that point, he also said “The intent is irrelevant. What you’ve done with it is irrelevant because if you’re not a politician at a high level and you’re let’s say someone in our military apparatus, they are being prosecuted for removing classified information from secure facilities. So this is a very serious issue.”
Though the central focus of his Newsmax interview, the documents and potential Espionage Act violation weren’t all Rep. Donalds discussed. He also sounded off on the Atlanta riots, saying:
“The riots themselves are obviously something nobody wants to see in any part of the country. What we’ve noticed, unfortunately, is the lack of seriousness that too many cities have taken with law enforcement has led to these outbreaks because the consequences have been essentially eradicated or significantly reduced.”
Continuing on that point, he said “People understand that if there is no measure to hold people accountable, so you’re going to see things like this and it’s unfortunate. We have to make sure that the law is followed and that crime is prosecuted.“