Skip to Content

Fact check: Trump falsely claims he cooperated with the feds ‘far more than Biden did’

By Daniel Dale, CNN

Washington (CNN) — Former President Donald Trump, now the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, made false claims Friday about the extent to which he and President Joe Biden each cooperated with federal authorities over the classified documents they each retained after they left office.

“I cooperated with the very unfriendly and hostile feds. I cooperated far more than Biden did,” Trump said in a speech to the National Rifle Association in Pennsylvania, echoing a claim he made in a written statement on Thursday.  Trump continued soon after: “But Biden fought them all the way. I didn’t. They’re trying to make it the other way; no, Biden fought them very hard and they never got what they wanted to get anyway.”

Facts First: Trump’s claims he cooperated with federal authorities “far more than Biden did” and that Biden “fought them all the way” are both not true. There is no reasonable argument that Trump cooperated as much as Biden, let alone “far more”: Biden cooperated with his federal investigation in multiple ways, according to the special counsel who probed his conduct, while Trump faces a charge of conspiracy to obstruct justice, among other obstruction-related charges, for allegedly trying in multiple ways to thwart the probe into his own conduct. In addition, even prior to the launch of the special counsel probe into Trump, Trump failed for months to comply with requests from the National Archives and Records Administration to return the documents in his possession – and then failed to return all of the documents after the Justice Department produced a grand jury subpoena for them.

The special counsel who handled the Biden probe, Robert Hur, wrote that there are “serious aggravating facts” in the Trump case that don’t exist in the Biden case: Trump’s alleged obstruction and Biden’s thorough cooperation.

In a report in which he announced he would not be bringing charges against Biden, Hur wrote: “Most notably, after being given multiple chances to return classified documents and avoid prosecution, Mr. Trump allegedly did the opposite. According to the indictment, he not only refused to return the documents for many months, but he also obstructed justice by enlisting others to destroy evidence and then to lie about it. In contrast, Mr. Biden turned in classified documents to the National Archives and the Department of Justice, consented to the search of multiple locations including his homes, sat for a voluntary interview, and in other ways cooperated with the investigation.”

Hur added that Biden “participated in an interview with our office that lasted more than five hours and provided written answers to most of our additional written questions.”

The false claim that Biden ‘fought them all the way’

There is clearly no basis for Trump’s claim that Biden “fought them all the way.” Hur documented numerous ways in which Biden cooperated with the special counsel and other federal authorities. In fact, Biden’s representatives sparked the probe that eventually resulted in Hur’s appointment by self-reporting in 2022 that they had appeared to find classified material in an office Biden had used.

As Hur wrote, Biden’s representatives notified the National Archives and Records Administration on the same day in November 2022 that they discovered classified documents in his former Washington, DC, think tank office. Later that month, the day they discovered classified documents in the garage of his Delaware home, they notified the federal prosecutor who had been assigned to lead the initial investigation. The same day, Biden gave the FBI consent to search his garage.

In January 2023, Biden’s team notified the federal prosecutor the day after they had discovered more classified material in Biden’s house, and they allowed FBI agents in. Within days (it is not clear precisely when), Biden consented to an FBI search of his entire house. FBI agents were also permitted to search the think tank office and Biden’s Senate papers at the University of Delaware, which Trump has previously falsely claimed Biden was not allowing anyone to see “under any circumstances.”

The false claim that Trump’s cooperation exceeded Biden’s

It is abundantly clear that Trump’s cooperation with federal authorities in his own documents probe did not come close to matching Biden’s – and that’s obvious even without getting into special counsel Jack Smith’s allegations of criminal obstruction by Trump. In 2021, before Smith was appointed, Trump failed for months to satisfy a series of requests from the National Archives and Records Administration to return official documents, all of which the Presidential Records Act says legally belong to NARA after the conclusion of a president’s term.

Trump finally returned 15 boxes to NARA in January 2022. But Smith alleges that Trump proceeded to engage in a conspiracy to obstruct justice.

After the Justice Department served Trump with a grand jury subpoena in May 2022 to return all documents with classification markings, Trump’s team returned 38 such documents in June 2022, and one of his lawyers signed a certification saying that all records covered by the subpoena had been provided after a diligent search. But that was not true – the subsequent FBI search of Mar-a-Lago in August 2022, under a search warrant, found more than 100 documents with classification markings – and Smith alleges that various acts of Trump obstruction occurred during the period following the subpoena.

Smith’s indictment of Trump alleges:

“TRUMP endeavored to obstruct the FBI and grand jury investigations and conceal his continued retention of classified documents by, among other things,

a. suggesting that his attorney falsely represent to the FBI and grand jury that TRUMP did not have documents called for by the grand jury subpoena;

b. directing defendant WALTINE NAUTA [a personal aide] to move boxes of documents to conceal them from TRUMP’s attorney, the FBI, and the grand jury;

c. suggesting that his attorney hide or destroy documents called for by the grand jury subpoena;

d. providing to the FBI and grand jury just some of the documents called for by the grand jury subpoena, while claiming that he was cooperating fully;

e. causing a certification to be submitted to the FBI and grand jury falsely representing that all documents called for by the grand jury subpoena had been produced – while knowing that, in fact, not all such documents had been produced;

and f. attempting to delete security camera footage at The Mar-a-Lago Club to conceal information from the FBI and grand jury.”

Smith’s indictment provides details behind these allegations. They are allegations, which have not been proven in court, but there are no such allegations about Biden.

PolitiFact previously fact-checked Trump’s Thursday written statement asserting he had cooperated more than Biden, concluding that the claim is “ridiculous.”

™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

Jump to comments ↓

CNN Newsource


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content