How cartoonists are mocking the Trump, Biden and Pence document cases


Florida. Delaware. Indiana. And a former office in Washington. Political cartoonists are among the journalists trying to keep up with the unfolding tale of a multistate paper trail over recovered classified documents.

Tuesday’s news that some classified documents were found last week at the Indiana home of former vice president Mike Pence “got me thinking about the difference in the three cases,” says Clay Bennett, the editorial cartoonist for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, who also cited the classified files recently recovered at properties belonging to President Biden and former president Donald Trump.

A lawyer for Pence said that “a small number” of records were found during a Thursday search of his home, according to letters sent to the National Archives. Biden and Trump face investigations over records recovered at current and former properties.

“Investigators are looking at possible charges of obstruction of justice or destruction of records” by Trump or others, The Post reported, “as well as the possible mishandling of government secrets. No such allegation has been leveled in the Biden matter, but the investigation is at an earlier stage.”

Bennett views the Pence and Biden cases as less egregious than the Trump case. The Post reported Tuesday that Pence and Biden “have cooperated with law enforcement,” while Trump “has been resistant while harshly criticizing the special counsel Jack Smith, who is investigating the former president’s handling of the documents.”

After CNN broke the Pence story Tuesday, Bennett drew what he says is “merely a visual representation” of how he perceives “the mitigating factors of the three cases.”

An earlier Bennett cartoon likened aligning the Trump and Biden cases to comparing apples and oranges.

Adam Zyglis of the Buffalo News, by contrast, satirized the Trump and Biden cases jointly without direct distinction — and received some blowback.

When news of the Biden case broke, Zyglis immediately seized on the saying that “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” So he drew a shattered 1600 Penn with the caption “Glass White Houses.”

“It’s a classic tale in politics of one party in Washington accusing the other party of what they’ve also been guilty of,” Zyglis says. “After publishing my cartoon, my more liberal followers responded in anger. I heard from many that Trump’s case and Biden’s case were very different.”

“While it may be true that there are differences in severity of the classified document cases,” he notes, “the fact remains that the Biden story massively undercuts the Democrats’ attacks on Trump.”

Now considering the Pence case, too, Zyglis says: “It looks like everyone in Washington lives in a glass house.”

Mike Luckovich of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has drawn two cartoons to lampoon what he sees as more egregious about Trump’s case.

“Trump supporters are trying to equate what Trump did taking classified documents … to Biden unknowingly having them and then returning them once he learned he had them,” Luckovich says. “It appears to be the same for Pence — he didn’t know he had them and returned them when he found out.”

Jack Ohman of the Sacramento Bee decided to tap Biden’s mention of his vintage car as visual metaphor. After classified files were found in his Wilmington, Del., home, Biden said they were located in the same garage when he keeps his prized 1967 Corvette.

“As a patriotic cartoonist who likes to draw vehicles, I had to do this” idea, Ohman says. “Interestingly, the original iteration of this drawing had Biden discovering Trump and his documents in his garage, but editors suggested changes. So I retooled it.”

And Dave Whamond of Cagle Cartoons was struck with the reality-show idea that the Biden and Trump cases would make for “a great episode of ‘Storage Wars.’ ”

Whamond decided to have someone speculating on “which storage area would contain the juiciest documents.” Then he added such secondary elements as “Trump bragging about having the best documents and Biden wondering if the fact that his storage garage also contained a Corvette would make a difference.”

“Mar-a-Lago and Car-a-Lago were added at the last minute, just before I hit send” and he might have to consider a third garage if news of another case soon broke, Whamond says.

He then adds wryly: “What’s this about Mike Pence?”

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