Editor’s note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM radio’s daily program “The Dean Obeidallah Show.” Follow him @DeanObeidallah@masto.ai. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. Read more opinion at CNN.

CNN  — 

Some Republicans love to spout whataboutisms to defend against any allegations of wrongdoing by former President Donald Trump. The latest example comes after a federal indictment was unsealed Friday charging the former president with 37 criminal counts over his handling of classified documents after leaving office, including a violation of part of the Espionage Act.

Dean Obeidallah

These Republicans are defending the twice-impeached former president by pointing to Hillary Clinton not being charged over her handling of classified information while using a private email server when she was secretary of state.

For example, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a 2024 GOP presidential candidate, stated Friday, “Hillary had the emails,” adding, “Is there a different standard for a Democrat secretary of state versus a former Republican president?” And Trump ally GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina offered a similar defense Sunday on ABC News by invoking Clinton’s emails.

But comparing Trump’s actions to Clinton’s is akin to comparing a peaceful protest to the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol by Trump supporters.

True, some Republican officials have tried to rewrite the January 6 insurrection as being a “normal tourist visit.” But just as we should reject that attempt, we should dismiss any effort to equate what Trump is accused of doing with Clinton’s conduct.

They are not in the same universe, namely because the 49-page indictment alleges Trump’s behavior was deliberate and intentional in resisting government efforts to retrieve classified documents after the material was taken to Mar-a-Lago.

Lest we forget, in July 2015, the FBI opened a criminal investigation into Clinton as it examined whether the former secretary of state’s use of a private email server violated any laws concerning the storage of classified information.

After an investigation lasting nearly a year, then-FBI Director James Comey announced that he would not recommend filing any criminal charges against Clinton, who was the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee at the time.

Comey stated that in looking at previous Department of Justice investigations concerning “mishandling or removal of classified information” there was always some combination of the following: “clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice.”

Comey concluded, “We do not see those things here,” although he criticized Clinton for being “extremely careless” in the handling of sensitive, classified information.

In contrast, allegations of repeated intentional conduct are at the heart of the case against Trump. For starters, 31 of the 37 felony counts that Trump faces are for willful retention of national defense information in violation of the Espionage Act.

The defense information included highly sensitive military secrets such as “United States nuclear programs” and “potential vulnerabilities of the United States and its allies to military attack,” according to the indictment.

The indictment alleges intentional misconduct, accusing Trump of directing an aide to remove boxes containing classified documents from a storage area so that his own lawyers could not find documents required to comply with a grand jury subpoena. (Trump aide Walt Nauta faces six counts in the case, including several obstruction- and concealment-related charges. An attorney for Nauta declined to comment Friday.)

Bill Barr, a Republican who served as Trump’s attorney general, described the indictment as “very detailed” and “very, very damning” in an appearance on “Fox News Sunday”: “I was shocked by the degree of sensitivity of these documents and how many there were,” Barr said, “… and I think the counts under the Espionage Act that he willfully retained those documents are solid counts.”

Trump is also charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice over efforts to conceal these records and is accused of misleading his own attorney so that a false certification was submitted in response to the grand jury subpoena that all classified documents had been returned.

Noting the obstruction charges, Barr commented that the federal government ”acted in a very patient way. And what they were met with was, according to the government, and the indictment, very egregious obstruction.”

In contrast, Comey did not find evidence of obstruction on Clinton’s part.

The indictment against Trump alleges the former president knowingly shared classified information on two occasions, the most notable occurring in July 2021 at his country club in Bedminster, New Jersey, with a writer, publisher and two staff members, none of whom had security clearances.

During that meeting, Trump referred to plans drafted by the US military to attack another country. “This is secret information. Look, look at this,” Trump said, according to the indictment. Trump then admitted that since he was no longer president, he didn’t have the power to declassify that document. “Now I can’t, you know, but this is still a secret,” the indictment says. (CNN reported earlier that this meeting was captured on an audio recording that prosecutors had obtained.)

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Interestingly, back in 2016, then-GOP presidential candidate Trump denounced Comey’s decision not to recommend charges against his Democratic rival, saying that “adversaries almost certainly have a blackmail file on Hillary Clinton.