IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Pence document revelation is good for Biden — and great for Trump

First Read is your briefing from “Meet the Press” and the NBC Political Unit on the day’s most important political stories and why they matter.
President-elect Donald Trump looks on as President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden congratulate Vice President Mike Pence after he took the oath of office on Jan. 20, 2017.
President-elect Donald Trump looks on as President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden congratulate Vice President Mike Pence after he took the oath of office on Jan. 20, 2017.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — If it’s Wednesday ... The U.S., Germany and other Western nations reverse course and are set to send tanks to Ukraine. ... Speaker Kevin McCarthy blocks Democrats Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from serving on House Intel Committee. ... Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says the onus of negotiating debt limit increase will be on McCarthy and the House GOP. ... In new filing, Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., signals campaign loan didn’t come from personal funds. ... And RNC’s three-day winter meeting begins, with RNC chair race set for Friday. 

But first: The latest discovery of classified documents at former Vice President Mike Pence’s Indiana home is good news for President Biden (now that he’s not the only former vice president who’s had classified docs wind up at his residence).

And it’s great news for former President Donald Trump — both politically and maybe even legally as it relates to his much more problematic case for having classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago home.

Here’s Peter Baker in the New York Times:

“Tim Miller, a longtime Republican strategist who became a leading critic of the former president, said there is a ‘stark contrast’ between how Mr. Trump handled the classified documents issue and how Mr. Biden did.

“But as a political matter, he said, the case plays into the former president’s hands. ‘Trump has a championship-level ability to muddy the waters,’ Mr. Miller said, ‘and create false equivalencies between his own illicit behavior and other people’s more mundane mistakes.’”

Legally, Baker adds:

“In terms of legal adjudication, the fact that Mr. Biden is now defending himself on his handling of documents in theory has no direct bearing on whether Mr. Trump should be charged for his actions. In reality, however, prosecutors are sensitive to public perception.”

When observers found out the severity of the classified documents found at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home — as well as the alleged obstruction — it offered the possibility that the court room could end up defeating the former president in 2024.

But after Biden’s and now Pence’s own document snafus, it’s more likely that his opponents will have to defeat him at the ballot box to stop him.

Headline of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is … 39 

That’s how many mass shootings — defined as incidents where at least four people other than the shooter are shot — have taken place in the first 24 days of the year, according to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive. The striking figure comes with multiple mass shootings just in the last few days, including three in California, with 11 dead in Monterey Park, at least seven killed in Half Moon Bay, and one person dead and multiple shot in Oakland

The string of shootings has spurred Vice President Kamala Harris, a former California senator and state attorney general, to travel to her home state on Wednesday. Harris is expected to visit Monterey Park, where a gunman opened fire at a dance hall during a Lunar New Year celebration.

The string of shootings has some calling for more action on gun safety legislation. California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom slammed Republicans in Congress for failing to act, calling out Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who is from California. “Shame on them,” Newsom said, per Politico. “Shame on those that allow and perpetuate that to be rewarded politically.” And families of children killed at a shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, last year gathered Tuesday to call for action

Other numbers to know 

9: The number of senior Ukrainian officials who were ousted amid allegations of corruption.

11: The number of eventual Biden administration officials who worked at the Penn Biden Center, where several Obama-era classified documents have been found, according to a count by the Philadelphia Inquirer.

67: The number of journalists killed in 2022, per the Committee to Protect Journalists, the most in five years

90: The number of seconds left until midnight on the Doomsday clock, a number that The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists advanced the clock to on Tuesday, and the closest it has ever been to midnight.

$17.50: The hourly wage to which Walmart is planning to raise its average minimum wage, the company said on Tuesday.

2: The number of antitrust lawsuits filed against Google by the Justice Department over the last two years, the latest being one over its online ad business.

11: The number of Academy Award nominations “Everything Everywhere All At Once” received, more than any other movie.

Eyes on 2024: Senate race in the desert heats up

Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego announced that his Senate campaign raised more than $1 million in its first 24 hours as he gears up for what will be an expensive, and likely unpredictable race, especially if Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., runs again.  

Sinema closed the last fundraising period with more significantly cash on hand than Gallego. But as Inside Elections reports, it’s not clear if she’ll be able to still use the online fundraising platform ActBlue, which has been a boon for Democrats, as a newly independent senator. 

Gallego told NBC News’ Sahil Kapur that his path to victory is “very clear. Solidify Latinos and Democrats,” Gallego said. “A lot of Latinos are actually independents. And at the end of the day we’re going to also have the crossover appeal for some Republicans based on our national security background.” 

Kapur also reports that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer declined to say if he would support Sinema or the Democratic nominee in the race.

In other campaign news: 

Waiting for the report: A Georgia judge said Tuesday he would rule at a later date whether to release a special grand jury’s report on its investigation into whether former President Trump and his allies attempted to interfere in the 2020 election results.  

Pompeo and circumstance: Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CBS This Morning that he would decide on a presidential run in “the next handful of months” and that Trump’s presence in the race would not affect that decision.

RNC drama: The race for the next Republican National Committee chair will be decided later this week, and the two top candidates, Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and attorney Harmeet Dhillon, both spoke to Politico about their pitches to committee members. Politico also reports that few members of the Senate GOP caucus are engaging in the chair race.

Mitch goes to Washington: Former Indiana GOP Gov. Mitch Daniels will be in D.C. Wednesday to meet with Republican senators, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and NRSC Chairman Steve Daines, as he weighs a Senate run, per Politico. Meanwhile, GOP Rep. Jim Banks, who launched a Senate run earlier this month, announced Tuesday that he has been endorsed by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. 

California dreaming: The Sacramento Bee looks at the key factors at play for Democratic Rep. Katie Porter, who wants to succeed Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein (even though the latter hasn’t announced she’s stepping aside). 

Hitting the airwaves: Republican Kelly Craft, who served as ambassador to the United Nations during the Trump administration, is spending $118,000 on a new TV ad buy in the Kentucky governor’s race, per AdImpact, bringing her campaign’s ad spending to $1.2 million so far. 

On Wisconsin: The New York Times reports on one of the most consequential, under-the-radar races of 2023, the Wisconsin Supreme Court race in April

A gold watch or another go?: And the Washington Post reports on the Democratic senators who are still weighing whether they want to run for another term, pivotal decisions in key swing states. 

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

A fight over the debt ceiling could further alienate relations between the GOP and corporate America, NBC News’ Shannon Pettypiece writes, as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell puts on the onus on House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to negotiate with the Biden administration. 

Senators on Tuesday held a hearing regarding Ticketmaster and Live Nation in the wake of several incidents, including the sale of tickets to Taylor Swift’s latest tour, that left fans frustrated with the platform

The Pope told the Associated Press that homosexuality is not a crime and that Catholic bishops should welcome LGBTQ people to church.