President Joe Biden waves before boarding Air Force One Sunday at Delaware Air National Guard Base in New Castle, Delaware, en route to Atlanta. Credit: Carolyn Kaster / AP

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Both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump now have special counsels investigating them, with questions about how each of these commanders in chief have handled classified documents. Neither should get special treatment.

If someone in this country breaks the law, there should be consequences. That goes for presidents and former presidents, too.

The public has known for months about Trump’s possession of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida, and apparent stonewalling by him and his legal team. He and his lawyers’ flimsy arguments have been strongly rebuked in legal proceedings, even by judges he appointed and a special master he requested.

Less is known concerning the new revelations about Biden, with classified documents dating to his time as vice president found both at his Delaware home and in a personal office he had at a University of Pennsylvania center in Washington, D.C., named after him. The White House announced over the weekend that even more classified documents had been found at his Delaware home.

While there is still much to uncover here, Biden and the White House have bungled early attempts to explain the situation — creating more questions than they’ve answered. It certainly appears that information about at least some of these documents may have been withheld from the public before the November 2022 election. And we know that as more information comes out, the more Biden’s insistence that he takes “classified documents, classified information seriously” sounds like a bad joke.

Of course, there is nothing funny about the mishandling of classified materials.

Without making a legal determination, it seems quite clear that Biden and Trump have made a mockery of the system that at least in theory should safeguard sensitive information in the possession of the U.S. government. That is not to equate the two scenarios or to say that one excuses the other. These newest revelations about Biden do not let Trump off the hook, and Trump’s Mar-a-Lago mess doesn’t give Biden a pass.

The scope and legal ramifications in Trump’s situation certainly seems much worse, but again, there is still much more to learn about the Biden revelations. Neither man looks good in the court of public opinion, that is for sure.

One thing that remains unquestionably true for Trump and Biden is that their time as president must not shield them from accountability. If either has committed a crime in their handling of classified documents, they must face consequences — like any other American would. The separate special counsel investigations may end with different results, but this must be their shared starting point.

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The BDN Editorial Board

The Bangor Daily News editorial board members are Publisher Richard J. Warren, Editorial Page Editor Susan Young, Assistant Editorial Page Editor Matt Junker and BDN President Todd Benoit. Young has worked...