Rep. Byron Donalds got into a heated exchange with a CNN host over former President Donald Trump’s indictment, even as he called out the 45th president’s 2016 rival.
The Florida Republican noted that while Trump has been charged with 37 federal counts related to his handling of classified materials, Donalds noted that his situation isn’t even close to the seriousness of Democratic figures like then-Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over their possession of highly classified materials.
“When you look at this information, and you look at what’s come down in the indictment, an indictment is a one-sided argument from the prosecution. The president and his team is going to have an opportunity to respond to this. And actually, in looking at the indictment, one of the things you also have to understand is that there is a lot of context issues here,” Donalds noted.
“The context you are getting directly from Jack Smith and deciding on what he thinks is relevant or not. Until the legal proceedings happen, you can’t go through that. Adds as a broader perspective, what you see is a political prosecution of Donald Trump because former officials of our government who did not have declassification ability and were not the head of the Executive Branch, they did significantly worse things with material and classified document material and the Department of Justice previous iterations just basically turned a blind eye and moved down the road, and that is why the American people look at this, they think it’s disgusting and they think it’s a two-tiered justice system simply to go after President Trump,” he added.
The host responded, “Your view and I think the view that reflects what I think Scott Jennings made clear a lot of Republicans feel based on what they have seen. I think these are very different…”
“No, no, no! Not feel. It’s not feel. Understand this. It is not feel. That is a fact,” Donalds insisted, adding that during her tenure in the Obama administration, Clinton destroyed emails and other materials that were under subpoena by the GOP-controlled House Oversight Committee, before going on.
“Joe Biden took classified document material as a United States senator. I’m a United States congressman. I am not allowed to remove classified documents. He took them as a United States senator. They were all over the place. That is a violation, actually, of the Espionage Act. And so there has been no talk, no dissemination, no investigation of any of those things,” Donalds noted.
Pushing back, the host noted:
I think if you want to look at the differences from what we know now, and you have made this point in the past, and it’s fair. We don’t know what is going on with the special counsel’s investigation, Robert Hur, but we know that the president — the current president appeared to have voluntarily turned over documents which I think is a pretty stark difference in this case specifically. But I also think when you mention that the Clinton case, the president is literally quoted in the indictment saying that he appreciated that the lawyer — Hillary Clinton’s lawyer — deleted the 30,000 emails or made an effort to and she didn’t get in trouble because he said that and he was the one who deleted them and basically said that that was a good thing and that was helpful to some degree.
Look, let me respond in this way. You have a situation here where now it’s apparently this audio that’s being talked about that, frankly, this audio transcript, let me say this, that’s being leaked from the Department of Justice. That’s not being leaked from anybody else. By the way, last time I checked, leaking information in a criminal probe, that is also a violation of the law.
So that stuff is being leaked to the press. CNN, you picked it up first, and it’s gone on from there. I don’t know the context of that audio. Even in this conversation, I don’t know the context because an indictment is a one-sided argument. That’s all it is. That’s where you have a full proceeding in front of a judge where defense counsel gets to about go back and forth. From a Republican political perspective, [Americans] are saying, ‘Well damn, if you are Donald Trump they gonna come get you for anything, but if you are Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden, they are going to investigate very, very slowly, and that’s not good for the United States of America.