(NewsReady.com) – The storage of classified material has dominated headlines for more than a year. Former President Donald Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence, and current President Joe Biden have all been under fire for possessing classified documents in their homes and/or offices. The two presidents are under investigation by special counsels because of their actions. While pundits debate over whether they should face punishment, it’s come to light that a military veteran has pleaded guilty in another case related to the issue.
In 2017, federal prosecutors received a tip that Air Force Lt. Col. Robert Birchum was unlawfully storing classified material at his private residence. At some point, authorities searched his home and found a thumb drive containing 135 classified files, including 31 that were marked “Top Secret.” In 2018, he retired from the military after 32 years in service.
According to a report by The Daily Beast, Birchum worked with “classified intelligence information” at the Special Operations Command (SOCOM), Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).
EXCLUSIVE: Robert Birchum, a high-ranking Air Force officer has quietly admitted to retaining hundreds of highly sensitive documents at his Florida home. https://t.co/zjgzUKKari
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) January 30, 2023
On August 26, 2022, just weeks after the FBI searched Trump’s home, Birchum signed a plea deal offered to him by federal prosecutors. The Beast recently received a copy of that plea deal and made it public. The veteran pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful retention of national defense information.
According to prosecutors, the defendant agreed on the elements of the count, including he was in unlawful possession of material related to the defense of the US. He also agreed that he “willfully retained the same documents and failed to deliver the documents” to a member of the government that was supposed to receive them.
Birchum is facing a maximum of 10 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. The court has not set a sentencing date yet.
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