The fact that classified documents were found in President Joe Biden's home and former think tank office, including in an FBI search of his home this weekend, is enough to implicate him in violations of the Espionage Act, no matter what the intent, if they were moved before he took the oath of office to become president, Rep. Byron Donalds insisted on Newsmax on Sunday.
"To be blunt, I really don't know where we go from here," the Florida Republican told Newsmax's "Wake Up America." "We said from the beginning a former vice president or anybody else has no ability to remove classified documents."
Former presidents, like Donald Trump, though, are "different," and because as the head of the executive branch, they have the ability to declassify information and classify information, Donalds said.
"We know former presidents take documents," he said. "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 Biden's situation is "very different," said Donalds.
"This is more akin to Hillary Clinton, where there are violations of the Espionage Act because they have removed classified information from secure facilities," said Donalds. "The intent is irrelevant. What you've done with it is irrelevant."
For example, he said, if someone in the military removes classified information from a secure facility, that is a "very serious issue," as it would be for someone who is "not a politician at a high level."
"The American people need to understand it's not about just what was by the tailpipe next to [Biden's] Corvette," said Donalds, but instead about when the documents were removed.
"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," he said.
The Espionage Act was listed in the Justice Department's warrant used in the raid on Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, according to the National Constitution Center, noting that the warrant cited Section 793 of the act, which deals with the "gathering, transmitting, or losing of national defense information."
The Biden documents were reported and turned in by his attorneys, with the FBI's only search of his property taking place Friday. Unlike with Trump's Florida residence, the FBI did not have a warrant to examine Biden's Delaware home, as the president voluntarily allowed the search.
Donalds on Sunday also commented on the violent protests taking place in Atlanta on Saturday in the wake of the killing of a 26-year-old environmental activist who officials said shot a state trooper.
"The riots themselves are obviously something nobody wants to see in any part of the country," Donalds said. "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."
Atlanta has had "better control" over such incidents than have other cities, like San Francisco, New York, Chicago, or Portland, he added, but such actions have occurred because of a "weakening at DAs' offices that have trickled down into our law enforcement."
"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," said Donalds. "We have to make sure that the law is followed and that crime is prosecuted."
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Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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