Thinking Citizen Blog — Classified Documents (Trump and Biden): Big Deal? Little Deal?

John Muresianu
4 min readJan 23


Thinking Citizen Blog — Sunday is Political Process, Campaign Strategy, and Candidate Selection Day

Today’s Topic: Classified Documents (Trump and Biden): Big Deal? Little Deal?

Is holding on to classified documents a legitimate reason to criminally prosecute a former President? how about a current President? Are the Trump and Biden cases really comparable? “Unlike Biden, Trump refused for eight months to return government documents that the Archives realized were missing.” On January 12, 2023, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to “investigate the unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents” by Joe Biden in 2017. Now there are three special prosecutors. Is the idea of special prosecutor a good idea or bad idea, anyway? How does the Kenneth Starr investigation of Clinton’s sex scandals look in retrospect? In 2014, Harvey Silvergate wrote that “ Starr and his cohorts engaged in brutal tactics in their quest for the scalp of a sitting president. A number of lives were ruined — including that of the chief victim of the president’s reckless conduct, Monica Lewinsky. It is unlikely that a “regular” federal prosecutor, as opposed to this “special one,” could’ve gotten away with such a rampage through due process, fairness and ordinary decency.” Is Silvergate right? Today, a few related notes. The first on a little bit of history on the job of special prosecutor. The second on Jack Smith, the guy in charge of investigating Trump. The third on John Hur, the special counsel looking into Joe Biden. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.

A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY: from the Whiskey Ring to Watergate

1. The first federal special prosecutor, John B. Henderson, was appointed by Ulysses Grant in 1875 to investigate the Whiskey Ring.

2. In 1881, James Garfield appointed the next special prosecutor, William Cook, to investigate a scandal involving the Postal Service.

3. The first Watergate special prosecutor was Archibald Cox (above), appointed by Attorney General Elliot Richardson. After Cox was fired, Leon Jaworski took his place.

SPECIAL COUNSEL ROBERT HUR — investigating Biden’s handling of classified documents

1. Both parents were South Korean. A graduate of Harvard College, magna cum laude, and Stanford Law School (where he was Executive Editor of the Stanford Law Review). He clerked for Chief Justice Rehnquist.

2. Appointed by President Trump to the US attorney for Maryland. His nomination was unanimously confirmed by the Senate.

3. Hur is a Republican.

SPECIAL COUNSEL JACK SMITH — investigating both Trump’s role in the January 6, 2021 Capitol attack, and his mishandling of classified documents

1. Grew up in a suburb of Syracuse. Graduate of the State University of New York at Oneonta and Harvard Law School (1994).

2. “Has served in the US Department of Justice as an assistant US Attorney, acting US Attorney, and as head of the department’s Public Integrity Section.”

3. “He was also the chief prosecutor in the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, an international tribunal at The Hague tasked with investigating and prosecuting war crimes in the Kosovo War.”

NB: “He has been prosecuting criminal cases for nearly three decades.”

Special counsel — Wikipedia

A Special Prosecutor Is a Bad Idea With Unanticipated Consequences —

Who is special counsel Robert Hur?

Who is Robert Hur, the special counsel leading the Biden classified documents inquiry

Jack Smith returns to U.S. weeks after becoming Trump special counsel


“Whenever you are wrong, admit it. Whenever you are right, shut up.” - Ogden Nash


PDF with headlines — Google Drive


#1 A graphic guide to justice (9 metaphors on one page).

#2 “39 Songs, Prayers, and Poems: the Keys to the Hearts of Seven Billion People” — Adams House Senior Common Room Presentation, 11/17/20


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John Muresianu

Passionate about education, thinking citizenship, art, and passing bits on of wisdom of a long lifetime.