Garages are not places for classified documents. Yet, on 12 January, American president Joe Biden’s lawyers found 10 such documents stored in his garage, giving his Corvette exalted company. A few of them were marked Top Secret. The jolting discovery should be a huge embarrassment for Mr Biden. More so because he had pilloried former president Donald Trump for smuggling classified documents into his resort home Mar-a-Lago.

Unflustered, Mr Biden, as a true politician, went on to justify the location of the discovery. He argued his Corvette was in the same garage. He was implying the classified documents were safe and secure. Americans were stumped by such a lousy response. Global politicos too were aghast at Mr Biden’s temerity. Sure, his insensitive words will come back to bite him soon. He will have to realise accountability is not for a few select Republicans. batch-Biden-classified-documents-garage-storage-Wilmington.html 

The Tragicomic Chutzpah

Already, chickens are coming home to roost on social media.  Biden hashtags and practical Biden humour have been ruling high on Twitter since 12 January. Hashtag-BidenGarage is the latest political sensation on the microblogging site. More than the Republicans, the tragicomic fallout should have outraged the Democrats. Sad, they were nonchalant over their president’s uncharacteristic chutzpah.

More revelations tumbled out soon to turn Mr Biden and his Democrats red in their faces. Mr Biden’s personal lawyers had this to disclose: on 2 November, they found the first batch of sensitive documents, as they vacated Mr Biden’s former Penn Biden Centre office in Washington. Later, another White House lawyer said he had found the second set of classified documents, both in Mr Biden’s garage and in his Wilmington family home.

Bonkers Over the Political Plum

The revelations are a rude jolt to the credibility of the Democrats who are obsessed with Mr Trump’s Mar-a-Lago crime. Et tu, Biden? Trumpians seemed to jeer at the president. Mr Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort home too seemed thumbing its nose at Mr Biden’s garage. More than the average Republican, Mr Trump was relishing this unexpected God-sent gift. His Truth Social was going bonkers over this political plum.

Looking back, Merrick Garland, the attorney general, had appointed a special counsel for probing Mr Trump then. Now,  the shoe is on the other foot. Mr Garland appointed the same Robert Hur, again as a special counsel. Mr Hur was authorised to probe Mr Biden and prosecute him if needed. Incidentally, Mr Hur was brought in 2017 by Mr Trump. Yet, Mr Hur is promising to do the Biden-job now without fear or favour. trump-appointed-counsel-1773434

Billowing into a PR Disaster

However, the casualness of Ms Biden and Trump is a matter of real concern. They have shown scant seriousness over storing sensitive papers in shelters meant for sports cars and summer sojourns. If such papers could be kept in a garage, what is the certainty they will be sent to the National Archives post-Biden presidency? Past experience is telling. Many classified documents did land up in Mar-a-Lago as Mr Trump left the White House.

Such concerns are adding scary dimensions to the garage find.  The walls of high morality are collapsing around Mr Biden’s Democratic government. Supporters of Mr Biden may argue the garage discoveries are not malafide in intention as Mr Trump’s and not voluminous as Mr Trump’s 325 sensitive documents.  Yet, these excuses are not washing with the American voters and the garage incident is billowing now into a PR disaster for Mr Biden.

Americans Cannot Stop Agonising

The disaster is putting serious questions on the demands of the Democrats for prosecuting Mr Trump for smuggling out classified documents to Mar-a-Lago. The case of Mr Trump is graver as his intention was to subvert democracy and his operation was to obstruct law-enforcement agencies. Mr Trump did try to block attempts to recover the carted 325 documents and scuttle the probe. Mr Biden didn’t, a major difference.

Yet, Americans cannot stop agonising over Mr Biden’s garage find. Primarily because Mr Biden has done this despite knowing fully well how a similar act of Mr Trump is viewed by the courts, the press and the people. Thus, Mr Biden co-operating with the search team by voluntarily handing over the second set of documents is not cutting ice with Americans. Such is their anger, Mr Biden’s voluntariness is, in fact, seeding doubts over existence of more such hoards.

The Garage Scandal Laced with Poison

This anger springs from many unanswered questions, two of them quite weighty. The first one is over how documents from Barack Obama’s presidential term were found in Mr Biden’s garage and what are their contents, scope, seriousness and sensitivity. The other question is over why the time lag of more than a month between the discovery of the first and the second set of documents. This is fodder to Mr Trump.

Again, the garage drama proves how divided is the United States. Congressional interest in the l’affaire Garage is laced with bipartisan poison. The Democrats and the Republicans are crying hoarse over how their presidents respect conventions.  The Democrats are lauding Mr Biden for turning over the discovered documents without fuss. Their differences are driving a deep wedge in American politics.

The wedge is sure to maim Mr Biden’s re-election prospects in 2024. Mr Biden’s hopes were beginning to revive with a dip in inflation and a hearty recovery in his approval ratings. However, the gains Mr Biden made in recent times will be wiped out by l’affaire Garage. This will leave the fumbling president groping soon in the dark end of the political tunnel. His fate is now in the hands of Mr Hur. Et tu, Biden?

In Conclusion

Many questions, meanwhile, are popping up. Will Mr Hur, a Trump-appointee, do an objective job of probing Mr Biden?  Will Kevin McCarthy, the new Republican speaker of the House, rise above partisan politics to add credibility and neutrality to his position? Will a screaming Fox News shed its shrillness to debate the real issues behind L’affaire Garage and  Mar-a-Lago? Americans deserve honest answers.