Biden’s Corvette Defense Was a Lemon But His “Inadvertence” Defense Could Prove Worse

Below is my column on on President Joe Biden’s comment on his corvette and the unfolding of a defense from his counsel, including the “inadvertence” defense. While this defense is better than the conspiracy theory put forward by Rep. Hank Johnson (D., Ga.) and others that the documents may have been planted, it has some obvious risks and conflicts.

Here is the column:

Like a car, only better.” That slogan for Corvette sold a lot of cars, but, until last week, it was never used with regard to classified documents. President Joe Biden responded to a question Thursday from Fox’s Peter Doocy about the disclosure of additional classified documents found in his garage next to his corvette at his home in Delaware. The president responded “My Corvette is in a locked garage, OK? So, it’s not like they’re sitting out on the street.”

Like his car, Biden had classified documents stored in his garage but it was hardly better.

There is no question that Biden’s 1967 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is one hot car. Most of us would take the Stingray over an assortment of classified Ukraine briefing papers or memos. However, foreign intelligence may be more discerning.

The fact is that the argument that you protected classified documents as carefully as your Corvette will not cut it with the criminal code. As the Justice Department stated in the Trump filings, the mishandling of classified material can be a criminal act. The Justice Department cited provisions included 18 U.S.C. 793 (Gathering or Transmitting Defense Information) and 18 U.S.C. 2071 (Concealment, Removal, or Mutilation Generally).

Despite that history, many experts assured the public, without any evidence but a couple leaks, that there was no criminal conduct involving Biden.

Harvard Professor Laurence Tribe has previously run through the criminal code on what Donald Trump should be charged with, including witness tamperingobstruction of justice, criminal election violations, Logan Act violations, extortion, espionage, and treason by Trump or his family.

Tribe insisted that “without any doubt, beyond a reasonable doubt, beyond any doubt, and the crimes are obvious.” Most recently, that included a charge of  attempted murder of former Vice President Mike Pence.

Yet, when Biden was accused of the same unlawful possession of classified information, Tribe needed no further evidence. He declared “One is criminal (Trump). And one is not criminal (Biden). Say it in plain English.”

Mueller’s top aide Andrew Weissmann added “It’s not a crime to accidentally take and retain govt docs. If upon learning that you have docs, you return them, there is no crime.”


Clearly, the Justice Department did not agree. In order to appoint a special counsel, the Attorney General had to find “that criminal investigation of a person or matter is warranted.” That does not mean that there is criminal conduct in this case, but the law prefers, at least for appearance’s sake, to wait for a modicum of evidence before making final judgments.

Biden’s counsel has insisted that this is merely “inadvertently misplaced.” That statement is belied by a couple facts. First, it seems that these documents were likely moved more than once. Biden left office as vice president in 2017. He presumably took these documents at that time. However, they ended up in different places, including one document found separately from the “garage files” in the residence.

Moreover, Biden had an office at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia after finishing his term in 2017. On February 8, 2018, the Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement says that it opened its doors in Washington, D.C.

Biden could not have moved into the D.C. office until later that year. So those documents had to be moved from another location with moving trucks and personnel. They then sat in the office for years as other classified documents sat in his garage with his Corvette.

At some point, some documents were sent to the office and some to the residence and garage. What explained this division if it was not based on what the then vice president was working on?

The “inadvertent” defense hardly fits neatly with these facts. Moreover, if Biden worked off any of these documents for his book (which dealt with some of the underlying subjects like Ukraine), the inadvertent defense is not only shattered but could be cited later as an effort to deceive the public.

There are already concerns over the public statements from the president and his staff. The White House was already aware that there was not just one but three discoveries (the Penn Biden office, the garage, and the residence) of classified documents. However, the president indicated that only the Penn Biden office documents were at issue.

Finally, there is a question about the timeline. There seemed to be a general lack of urgency from the government despite finding documents classified at the high “Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information” (TS/SCI) level.

However, it took two days for the archives to notify the Justice Department. It then took seven days after the discovery for the FBI to do a risk assessment. Most notably, after the discovery of classified material in two locations, it was private counsel who discovered the last classified document. That was December 20th. It is not clear if the FBI asked or were allowed to conduct its own search before December 20th given the repeated discoveries in different locations.

While Garland finally made an appointment, he appears to have done so with one huge benefit to Biden. Unlike the sweeping mandate given the special counsel for Trump, the Biden mandate appears quite narrow. There was no reference to the alleged Biden influence peddling scandal, which long ago warranted a special counsel appointment.

We may soon, however, see an extraordinary historical development where both leading candidates for the presidency will be campaigning with their own assigned special counsels.

425 thoughts on “Biden’s Corvette Defense Was a Lemon But His “Inadvertence” Defense Could Prove Worse”

  1. Tribe is another example of a far left wing hater, who is entrenched in both the educational and justice system. One can only imagine the bias he preaches against conservatives in his teaching, as well as when he was a practicing attorney / judge. The hate just oozes from him, when he talks about Trump.

  2. ‘Biden’s latest yarn about giving his “Uncle Frank” the Purple Heart isn’t a case of getting a few facts here or there wrong. It’s an elaborate, premeditated fabrication, one of dozens he has told — and long before he showed signs of senility. Biden is simply a pathological liar.’
    ~paul sperry

  3. Regarding a record of classified documents – It seems that a system exists: See 18 CFR § 3a.71 (Accountability for classified material) governs, Sub a states “(a) The Office of Administrative Operations is the central control registry for the receipt and dispatch of classified material in the Washington office and maintains the accountability register of all classified material.” Sub (b) says: “Classified material received by other than the OAO or Regional Engineers will be delivered promptly and unopened to the Security Officer or Regional Engineer in order that it may be brought under accountable control.” Sub c says: “Each classified document received by or originating in the FERC will be assigned an individual control number by the central control registry, OAO. Sub d says: “(d) The accounting system for control of classified documents will be effected through the use of FERC Form 55, Classified Document Control Record and Receipt. This form will be used to: . . . 3) Record all changes in status or custody of the document during its classification life or the period it is retained under accountability in the FERC.” This regulation was enacted in 1973, so it should have “known” that VP Biden had top secret documents in his possession. I wonder if all classfied documents are actually sent to this agency.

  4. Under the Presidential Records Act (PRA) the President, who was Trump had total authority to classify and declassify records and when he left office anything he took was declassified automatically and his. This was per a Supreme Court Ruling against other Presidents previously. Trump’s documents were located in his Presidential office in a locked vault under Secret Service surveillance so having a Judge issue an order for a subpoena and then the FBI to do a raid is wrong on all accounts.

    Under Obama, Biden being a VP at the time and Hillary being in the Cabinet or a Senator, neither fall under the PRA but fall under the government laws that affected Snowden and many others for stealing classified records. This also makes a person ineligible to serve in government or be elected. However we have a Two Tiered System of Justice that let Hillary off and I expect Biden to skate.

    1. Things are only “declassified automatically” if they reach the date where they were originally scheduled to be automatically declassified.

      They are not Trump’s or automatically declassified simply by virtue of his taking them.

      “This was per a Supreme Court Ruling against other Presidents previously.”

      You don’t say what case you’re referring to or what they ruled. They certainly have never ruled that when a President leaves office, “anything he took was declassified automatically and his.”

      “Trump’s documents were located in his Presidential office in a locked vault under Secret Service surveillance”

      The documents in Trump’s possession were found in more than one location (a storage closet, a desk drawer, …) and none of it was under SS surveillance. That’s one of the reasons the DOJ subpoenaed surveillance video of things being moved in and out of the storage closet.

      “having a Judge issue an order for a subpoena and then the FBI to do a raid is wrong on all accounts.”

      The judge clearly disagrees.

      “neither [Biden nor Clinton] fall under the PRA”

      Both fall under the PRA, which applies to many people who advise the President.

      1. “They certainly have never ruled that when a President leaves office, “anything he took was declassified automatically and his.”

        Stupid argument ATS. There is no court case of that being adjudicated. What you are trying to do is confuse the issue while being deceptive.

        1. “There is no court case of that being adjudicated. ”

          Allan the Troll, I’m glad that you agree that JG was wrong when he asserted that “when [Trump] left office anything he took was declassified automatically and his … per a Supreme Court Ruling against other Presidents previously.”

            1. No, Allan the Troll, also known as S. Meyer the Troll Liar, I was responding to a claim by JG about a ruling that never took place, correctly pointing out to him that there was no such ruling. You are so hate-filled that you can’t even follow the exchange and understand “They certainly have never ruled that when a President leaves office, ‘anything he took was declassified automatically and his.’” You’ll invent things to complain about when they don’t exist.

              1. This was the discussion ATS. Figure it out for yourself.

                >>“They certainly have never ruled that when a President leaves office, “anything he took was declassified automatically and his.”

                Stupid argument ATS. There is no court case of that being adjudicated. What you are trying to do is confuse the issue while being deceptive.

                As I said, your intent is not to honestly debate but to confuse the issue and now you are confusing yourself.

    2. Ask Let’s Go Brandon who in America has permission to store Secret documents, who gave you permission to take these documents. Are you a criminal for doing that.

  5. Prof Turley mentions that 18 USC 2701 has been cited by the DOJ as a basis for ciminal liability for Trump. That statute does not appear to apply to classified documents as such. The operative language is: “(a)Whoever conceals, removes . . .any record . . . filed or deposited with any . . . court . . . or in any public office . . . of the United States, shall be fined under this title . . . .” Are all classfiied documents “filed in a public office”? I would think that highly sensitive documents are never “filed” since they would automatically become a public record or at least seen by non-authorized persons. Possibly the word “filed” could be twisted to mean “retained” but criminal statutes are supposed to be narrowly interpreted.

    1. It is typical for those on the left to read the law expansively – atleast when applied to their targets.

      That is not how the actual law works.

  6. Byron York raises a question in the Washington Examiner: why would Biden send lawyers to move a box of documents? Why not send Hunter or Two Men and a Truck? He must have known or suspected that classified materials were on the premises. Sending lawyers may also help him shroud his actions under the attorney-client privilege.

    1. There is alot of competing claims in this.

      We do not know all the facts, and there is little reason to trust reporters.

      But the reporting that I think is correct is:

      Movers at Biden Center found the Classified documents.
      They notified Lawyers.
      The lawyers notified NARA.
      NARA notified DOJ.

      Garland apointed Lausch.
      Lausch had federal agents search Biden’s other homes – with Biden’s permission and without a warrant.
      Where the other documents were found.

      Too be clear – future revalations may prove assertions above false.

      That is the nature of modern reporting.

  7. I would like to see the same special counsel responsible for both Trump and Biden “classified documents” investigations. That way, he will be responsible to distinguish [and justify] the relevant differences and treatment of both, making it a matter of legal public record –irrespective of media and political underplay or overplay.

    1. Given that Clinton was not prosecuted, there is zero chance Biden will be and it is probably at this point politically impossible to prosecute Trump.

      That is appropriate.

      Several problems remain. And these need to be dealt with as publicly as possible.

      A full investigation of the FACTS.

      What did Biden know about the docs in his posession and when. Despite current claims it is near certain Biden KNEW he had classified docs while Ex-VP. This is incredibly important as it makes the efforts to get Trump politically motivated, and impeachable.

      Who actually moved the Biden and Trump docs.

      Who had access to the Biden and Trump docs.

      What should be done regarding the law – and are constitutional changes needed.

      Some of this requires FBI investigations.

      But pretending these are going to result in prosecutions is idiocy.
      These investigations need to be done and the results PUBLICLY reported to congress.

      This is not really a prosecutorial issue it is a political issue. It should be dealt with by the house and senate.
      And later by voters.

  8. “Mueller’s top aide Andrew Weissmann added “It’s not a crime to accidentally take and retain govt docs. If upon learning that you have docs, you return them, there is no crime.”” “Upon learning”– So when were the documents returned? Was it Nov? Was it Dec? or just recently when the the leak occurred and the public found out? The special counsel was just appointed when the leak occurred and the public found out. Has anyone looked at the locked records at the Univ. of Delaware?

          1. Then you could cite the law.

            Crimes are Act’s.
            Find an actual ACT that violates a specific law that by YOUR read of the law Biden has not violated.

            There is no crime of imperfect compliance with a subpeona.

            Regardless, Subpeona’s are the vehicle by which attorney’s aquire evidence for Trial.

            They are not tools for gaining possession of property.

          2. Trump is subject to the Presidential Documents Act – as only presidents are – with respect to document handling…. The PDA is NOT a criminal statute. EVERYONE else in the world are under the Federal Documents Act – including the former prez Biden, who illegally took documents with him and left them in completely unsecured places. His actions, according to the FDA are felonies

            1. “as only presidents are”

              Nope. The PRA applies to lots of people in the Executive Branch:

              “The term “Presidential records” means documentary materials, or any reasonably segregable portion thereof, created or received by the President, the President’s immediate staff, or a unit or individual of the Executive Office of the President whose function is to advise or assist the President, in the course of conducting activities which relate to or have an effect upon the carrying out of the constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties of the President.”

              1. Actually only president’s AREN’T subject to the PRA – which is essentially what JW v NARA says.
                If the PRA does not allow the president to decide as he pleases what is and is not a personal document – then it is not constitutional.

                I would also note that the PRA’s definition of what is a presidential record is so broad it covers what it says it does not.

                This would be obvious to anyone reviewing what the Branch tapes contained – which included recordings of conversations between Clinton and the Sec State, and discussions about hiring and firing cabinet officials.

            2. Actually that is part of the problem – The president is NOT subject to the PRA – and that is pretty much what ABJ decided in JW v NARA.

              1). PRA does not give NARA the power to recover documents – that was relevant then, and it is relevant now.
              2). The Article II powers of the president can not be constrained by congress passing a law. The decision as to what is Personal and Presidential rests with the president. And separately to the extent that PRA has power – the final decision is a decision of the president.

              This BTW is the same issue with regard to classified documents. Congress has passed laws specifying crimes for mishandling classified documents, But those laws do not apply to presidents. Further the decision as to what is and is not a classified document rests with the president. Which is why the entire process of classifying and declassifying is by executive order – not law.

              Recent news revalations have established what I have been saying from the start – that ex-presidents and ex-vice presidents routinely posses the classified and unclassifed documents of their presidency.

              Biden would not be in the tiniest trouble had he not violated the espionage act – and kept those documents secure within his ex-VP office – not his garage, not a chinese funded think tank.

      1. Aaah…i see the snowflake TDS child has decided to enter the fray, demonstrating his sharp wit, and knowledge of how the law works. Please…..carry on soy boy….this should be entertaining.

    1. Weisman is incorrect. 18 US 793(f) makes negligent and reckless handling a crime.

      Unwittingly taking – when you had a security clearance., routinely handled classified documents and had a duting to assure that you did not “accidentally” takes some is a crime.

      Further the Biden docs were moved. that is nto an accident and was done by Biden or at his direction – even if GSA was responsble for the initial move.

      Every single defense Biden has applies to Trump.

      But most of the defenses Trump has do not apply to Biden.

      1. Trump refused to return them and said “They are mine” even knowing better.
        A court-ordered search warrant was needed to get them, and still were some missing. Are they with Putin?

        1. They may well be his. Regardless, his saying they are his, rightly or wrongly is not a crime. His resisting their confiscation is not a crime.

          It is interesting that half the arguments against Trump have suddenly vaporized.

          None other than Andrew Weisman is now saying that mere possession is not a crime.

          And now we here the left defined by the left as “refusing to return”. Do the police arrest you for refusing to return a car you stole ? or for stealing it ?

          There are very few who supported Trump who have altered their arguments as a result of the sudden revalations regarding Biden.

          But everyone on the left has changed their tune.

          Why BTW wasn’t NARA hounding Biden for the 4 years Trump was president ?
          Why wasn’t Biden raided by the FBI ?

          You say Trump refused to return them – and that is the big deal.
          Why was he asked ?
          Why wasn’t Biden asked ?
          Why wasn’t Obama asked ?
          Why wasn’t Bush asked ?
          Why wasn’t Clinton asked ?

          We all know the answer to that.
          Trump went after the “deep state” and they are after him.
          And Biden and those on the left are drowning in a need for vengence because Trump eviscerated them successfully.

            1. Absolutely. Trump properly read a massive political re-alignment in the country.

              How many elections did Trump win ? Factoring out the election rigging – all of them.

              Can you win an election without massive media censorship of stories damaging to democrats ?
              Can you win an election without destroying the election laws of the entire country ?
              Can you win an election without massive ballot harvesting ?
              Can you win an election where the Federal Government does not take sides favoring your party ?

              You can not win an honest and trustworthy election.

              And soon enough you will not be able to win a dishonest one either.

              Democrats have won elections with increasingly draconian tactics.
              But they are fighting trends.

              In the long run trends beat tactics.

        1. “Trump’s alleged crimes include obstruction.”

          ATS, the key word is alleged. In the past you would have left that word out, but you are learning. In today’s world that is more likely to mean political crimes against the leftists rather than real crimes.

          “To date, Biden’s do not.”

          You got this part correct. You left out the word alleged. Congrats!

        2. Nope. Obstruction is very specific. It does not include doing everything within the law to assert what you beleive to be your rights.

          Regardless, Trump’s actions are no more obstruction than Biden hiding docs for 6 years is.

          Those like you on the left keep trying to define obstruction as failing to kowtow to YOUR wishes.

          Obstruction is not failure to cooperate. It is not offering any and all possible legal defenses – as the media is desparately trying to do for Biden.
          It is not even lying in public – which Biden is doing repeated. Biden’s documents got to the chinese think tank, his garage, and all the other insecure places he left them somehow. Someone – and most likely Biden committed the crime of moving classified documents to insecure locations. No one is buying that Biden accidently brought home lots of classified documents without knowing – there are not only Marked, they are in red and yellow oversize Binders so that you can not miss them.

            1. That you signed federal criminal indictments is terrifying.

              That you beleive this is even more so.

              It is self evident that you have no understanding of the basic foundations of law.

              The rule of law is not merely rule by lots of laws.

              A crime is not conduct that some subset of us do not like.

                1. Deputy foreperson? Isn’t that any person with or without an education empaneled to serve? Is that what you are claiming as expertise? It isn’t.

                2. I am assuming you are saying you were on a federal criminal grand jury ?

                  Wow ! You were randomly selected because you vote or pay taxes.
                  That makes you an absolute authority.

                  All I have seen from you is evidence that you should never be on any jury.

                    1. No I have facts and law, you have what ? Being randomly picked for a GJ ?

                      Clearly you are expert.

                    2. Is that what you saw on the tee-vee? We were all vetted by the Chief Judge of the district. We served for 70 sessions in 24 months. Lots of indictments for all kinds of reasons, and we had to learn the law in practice.
                      What did you do?

                    3. Actually argued cases in court.

                      A grand jury would ‘indict a ham sandwich,’ if that’s what you wanted.
                      Sol Wachtler

                      If the author of the Declaration of Independence were to utter such a sentiment today, the Post Office Department could exclude him from the mail, grand juries could indict him for sedition and criminal syndicalism, legislative committees could seize his private papers and United States Senators would be clamoring for his deportation that he should be sent back to live with the rest of the terrorists.
                      Frank I. Cobb

                      Prosecutors are allowed to cherry-pick what evidence, if any, that they do present to a grand jury. So the grand jury process overall is flawed. And that’s why it should not be utilized in this case and so many cases that are similar to this.
                      Sharon Cooper

                    4. You did not HAVE to learn anything.

                      And it is pretty clear you did not learn anything.

                      One of the reasons we have actual trials – is because Grand Juries have people like you on them.

  9. “It’s not a crime to accidentally take and retain govt docs.”

    It is a crime to store classified material in unauthorized locations. 18 USC 1924.

    1. You are correct, but it is important here to be clear.

      Storing something is an ACT.

      Biden has much larger problems that Trump because it is CLEAR that Biden moved or directed to be moved documents from one place to another.

      The Trump MAL documents:
      May not be classified.
      May have been moved in the middle of Trump’s presidency.
      May have been moved by GSA during the transition.
      May have been moved by GSA during the transition at Trumps direction while he was president.
      May have been moved by Trump personally in the last days of his presidency.

      Each and every one of these and possibly several others would result in classified documents LEGALLY stored at MAL.
      At that Point Trump’s “Duty” is limited to NOT removing the documents from his presidential offices at MAL.

      Crimes are ACTS, they are not passively sitting.

      If Biden never touched any of these documents, if he never moved them to Biden Center or his garage, if he never order other to do so.
      He is in the clear.

      But that is highly implausible.

        1. Nope, Review 18 USC Chapter 73, and narrowly reading the law find a law that fits.
          Not by title, but where every element of that particular form of obstruction is actually met.

          I am sure that you can find judges in DC to buy whatever you are selling. But trying to make obstruction out of anything Trump has done will die quickly.

          Resisting the garbage of politically corrupt forces in government is not a federal crime.

          Failure to kowtow is not a federal crime.

          Asserting all possible legal and constitutional defenses and arguments is not a federal crime.

          We have been through this nonsense with Mueller. One of the things Barr got right was dispatching Obstruction in less than a paragraph.

            1. You claimed to have engaged in obstruction prosecutions – you are sure that Trump’s actions violate the law.
              Yet, you can not cite and actual law and demonstrate based on the required elements of that crime how Trump has violated the law.

              And your response is ad hominem ?

  10. Translation: I’s not illegal to have classified documents at home or in your Corvette if you are a demented, perverted, Depends wearing, anti-American, old fool named Biden.

  11. Turley never states the obvious: there exist two, separate standards of justice in this country–a blind standard for people of the Left, and a corrupt standard for people of the Right.

  12. This just goes and shows how corrupt our government is and for Biden this is just the tip of the iceberg of his corruption .

      1. You have been after him for 6 years and in all cases the ultimate truth revealed YOU is the brain dead problem.

        Trump is the most investigaged person alive and you got nothing.

        Many of us who were sceptical of Trump towards the start, now fully grasp that it is YOU that is unhinged.

        Your examples in NY are just proof that you are so filled with Trump derangement you can not grasp reality.

        No one who has ever had anything to do with commercial realestate is buying this tax cheating by property valuation nonsense.

        Just as most of us understand fully that Joe Biden values the security of his Corvette more than that of the United States.

          1. So AG’s and Judges are wrong all the time.

            The FISA court was persuaded by the FBI to grants FISA warrants they now admit were garbage.

            James has lost a significant percentage of her Trump cases on appeal.

            Further it appears you are blurring cases.

            Whether Trump wins the case where the Trump organization was forced to pay taxes on funds that an employee embezzeled from them without their knowledge, is I beleive the case you are refering to. Again they are near certain to win that on appeal – if they care to appeal.

            I am pretty sure the ludicrously stupid valuation of properties case is not yet decided. Though I have no doubt given the stupidity of the Judge and James that Trump will lose.
            Though again Trump’s record with the NY Appelate courts is stellar.
            But depending on the results it is entirely likely that the Trump organization will move their business headquaters out of NY.

            All James and the courts are doing is depriving NY of future taxes.

            But yall have fun with that.

      2. How many times have you expressed this belief to yourself and been wrong? Despite everything you have thrown at him Trump walks free because he is innocent .Those making them weren’t very bright.

  13. “”will not cut it with the criminal code””

    Oh please. He is a Democrat. This is all kabuki. The law won’t come after him, and he’ll never get convicted of anything.

    1. Don’t so sure of that. The Democrats have no more use for him. Much less for 2024. This is the break they needed to rid themselves of him.

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