Looking back, this used to be a pretty straightforward country. What you saw was what you got, or at least it felt that way. That’s not the case anymore. A lot of what you read at this point feels not like news, but instead, like some highly curated version of reality crafted to manipulate you. Even if you’re not paranoid, you feel like the crazy guy in the bus mumbling about how nothing is real. “Nothing is real.”
So at the very least, it’s obvious there’s a lot of court intrigue going on in American politics, and only a small percentage of it ever becomes public. One day you wake up and Kamala Harris is the vice president. “How’d that happen?” you wonder. No one will say, but you can be sure there’s a story there.
So here’s the latest example of unexplained weirdness in the news. Mike Pence, of all people, has just swooped in to save Joe Biden. Yes. Mike Pence, a man so flamboyantly pure, he won’t have dinner with ladies not his wife. And yet Mike Pence also had secret documents in his house, just like Joe Biden. Bet you didn’t see that coming.
It wasn’t so long ago that Pence was on television saying he was sure he had no classified documents in his possession. He said that a few times. Then just days ago, Mike Pence sent his personal attorney to search his family’s home in Carmel, Indiana, for classified documents. Now, if Mike Pence didn’t think he had classified documents, why would he send his lawyer to go look for classified documents? We can’t say for certain, but it’s entirely possible – in fact, it’s likely – that Mike Pence was asked to do this by federal prosecutors who are trying to build a case against his old boss, Donald Trump.
Now, the point would be to show that not every federal official walks off with state secrets. Donald Trump was uniquely evil in that regard, as in so many others. See, Mike Pence didn’t do it. So if that was the plan and we suspect that it was, it backfired spectacularly because Mike Pence’s lawyer promptly discovered classified documents. He immediately loaded these documents into his car and drove them back to Washington to hand them over to authorities. Mike Pence, meanwhile, not only notified the National Archives about these new documents, he also called the FBI and then he called leaders of both parties in Congress. Which is odd because what Mike Pence did was a felony. We’ve heard that again and again. Keeping classified documents at home unsecured is a felony.
But Pence didn’t seem embarrassed about it at all. In fact, he almost bragged about it. So clearly, Mike Pence is not worried about being punished for keeping secret documents in his home. And that’s strange in a country where all laws are supposed to apply equally to all people. But Mike Pence is not worried about FBI raids. And that’s interesting. Maybe someday we’ll learn why.
In the meantime, though, the effect of the media was immediate. If someone as unimpeachably holy as Mike Pence had classified documents in his home, that means that every person who’s ever served at a high level of government also has classified documents at home. And that means, by definition, that keeping classified documents in your house is not a big deal except when Donald Trump does it.
Mike Pence proves that. If Mike Pence committed the same crime as Joe Biden, Joe Biden must be innocent. That was the media’s conclusion. Watch.
LAWRENCE O’DONNELL: It is possible for documents to be classified that we would all look at now and think, “Well, that’s basically public information. That’s not, it’s not a big deal.” And so that’s one of the things that you know, it’s a strong element in what you would call the Biden defense here.
It’s not a big deal. Well, actually, we’ve got to say it, that’s mostly true, and it usually isn’t a big deal. As we pointed out, for years now, the federal government has managed to classify more than a billion public documents. Now, the vast majority of these documents, citizens, us, have every right to see. Joe Biden, for example, is still hiding secrets from the Kennedy assassination 60 years ago, not to protect national security, but because the CIA doesn’t want to answer questions about its involvement in the murder of an American president. And that’s an outrage ia democracy. You should be mad about it.
But reporters in Washington are not mad about it. In fact, they’re the ones telling you that Julian Assange and Ed Snowden are criminals, not whistleblowers. So the press corps, just like the federal bureaucracy, loves secrecy because secrecy is the key to their power.
On the other hand, you can never dismiss any case out of hand because the details are what matters. So in the case of Joe Biden, what exactly was in those classified documents that he took home? The entire story, the question of whether it’s a big deal or no big deal at all, hangs on that question. What was in the documents? Why can’t you tell us? Well, as of tonight, no one has told us, so we don’t know.
But thankfully, Miranda Devine of The New York Post may have brought us a little closer to the answer. So she analyzed the documents that we do have, the ones found on Hunter Biden’s famous laptop. And on that laptop, she found a remarkable email, an email the Justice Department has never shown to the public, despite the fact its agents have had it for years. And the document that Miranda Devine found indicates that Hunter Biden had classified information in his possession. Almost certainly that came from his father, then the vice president. And that he used that information to make piles of money for the Biden family while working at a fake job in Ukraine. That’s what it shows.
So if there’s an actual scandal at the core of this classified documents story, here it is. So here are the details.
On April 13, 2014, Hunter Biden sent an email to his business partner in Burisma, Devon Archer. Now, he sent this a week before his father, the vice president, flew to Ukraine to meet with Ukraine’s prime minister. In the email, Hunter Biden composed a detailed memo with nearly two dozen data points about the political and strategic situation on the ground in Ukraine. What’s so immediately striking and Miranda Devine pointed this out, having read the entire laptop, is that this email bears no resemblance to anything else we have that Hunter Biden has ever written. In fact, it sounded like something produced by the State Department.
There’s no question that Hunter Biden used classified materials to assemble this email. Listen carefully: “The strategic values to create a land bridge for RU to Crimea,” he writes at one point. Notice he uses the diplomatic abbreviation for Russia, RU, because he’s in the know. “That won’t directly affect Burisma holdings, but it will limit future UK exploration and utilization of offshore opportunities in particular.” “It will also,” Hunter Biden added, “further destabilize the UK nationally and for whatever government is in power and the US will respond with even stronger sanctions. Those sanctions will threaten the tenuous support of the EU, which does not have the political will to incur steep energy price increases” and so on.
Now, keep in mind, if you’re wondering, is this plausible? Keep in mind, when he wrote this email, Hunter Biden was an active drug addict. Just two months before he wrote this, two months, in February of 2014, he’d been thrown out of the Navy for cocaine use. He couldn’t even stay sober long enough to pass a scheduled drug test. He was completely out of control.
Yet somehow, in that state, in this email, Hunter Biden managed to sound like a seasoned Ukraine hand from Foggy Bottom, referring to Russia as “RU” and all the rest. And critically, he seemed to know for a fact the details of American diplomatic strategy in the region. The US will respond with even stronger sanctions. How did Hunter Biden know that? Oh, come on. Come on.
Keep in mind that when Mike Flynn mentioned the topic – just mentioned the topic – of sanctions to the ambassador from Russia, the FBI swooped in and destroyed his life and threatened to send him to prison. And he was the National Security Advisor at the time. He had the highest possible clearances you could have. Hunter Biden had no clearances whatsoever. He was the drug addict son of the vice president. And here he is in this email casually mentioning to his business partner that sanctions may be coming, and here are the effects on the EU and energy prices in order to keep making $80 grand a month in a no-show job on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, working on a topic he knew nothing about.
So what are we looking at here? What we’re looking at is a crime. That’s a crime. A real one. Hunter Biden clearly knew it was a crime. He told his business partner in the same email to go to CVS and buy a “burner phone” to make sure their conversations were not seen by anyone else. Now, what’s amazing and so telling is that the DOJ has had this for years because the FBI seized Hunter Biden’s laptop before the last presidential election in 2020.
Keep in mind also the context. And the context is always Ukraine. That was true in 2014. It’s true in 2023. Back in 2015, Ukraine’s top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, began investigating Burisma and wondering, “Why is it paying the vice president’s son tens of thousands of dollars a month?” So how did Joe Biden respond? Well, within a year, Joe Biden, the vice president of the United States, had Shokin fired by threatening to withhold U.S. aid money to Ukraine. We’re not making this up. Here’s the tape.
JOE BIDEN: I went over. I guess the 12th, 13th time to Kyiv and and I was supposed to announce that there is another billion dollar loan guarantee. And I had gotten a commitment from Poroshenko and from Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor, and they didn’t. So they were walking out of the press conference, and I said, “We’re not going to give you the billion dollars.” They said, “You have no authority. You’re not the president. The president said.” I said, “Call him.” I said, “I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars.” I said, “You’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here.” I think it was about six hours. I look, I said, “I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.” Well, son of a bitch, he got fired.
Arrogance is his weakness. Can you imagine bragging about that? Joe Biden, in front of the Council on Foreign Relations, on camera, just admitted he had the prosecutor fired because the prosecutor was doing what our Department of Justice would not do. He wanted the vice president’s son investigated for trading classified information to this business for cash. And Joe Biden just admitted that he acted on behalf of the U.S. government, but actually on behalf of his family. It’s a crime. Hunter Biden had access to classified documents. That’s a crime. And here he is bragging about it. Hubris is always their undoing.
So this really is the scandal right there. It’s about Ukraine and it’s about the Biden family’s stream of income, which was illegitimate. So we put in a very simple request today to the White House and to Hunter Biden. Simple question: Did Hunter Biden ever receive in any form U.S. government classified information about Ukraine? Period. Simple question. Did this happen or did it not happen?
Of course, they didn’t respond because the answer, very obviously, we know, thanks to the reporting of Miranda Devine, is yes.