House GOP demands visitor logs in Biden classified documents case
Newly empowered House Republicans on Sunday demanded the White House turn over all information related to its searches that have uncovered classified documents at President Biden’s home and former office in the wake of more records being found at his Delaware residence.
Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, said he wants to see all documents and communications related to the searches by the Biden team, as well as visitor logs of the president’s home in Wilmington, Del., from Jan. 20, 2021, to present. He said the aim is to determine who might have had access to classified material and how the records got there.
The White House on Saturday said it had discovered five additional pages of classified documents at Biden’s home on Thursday, the same day a special counsel was appointed to review the matter.
A White House lawyer says the Justice Department took immediate possession Thursday of five previously unknown pages from the president’s home in Wilmington, Del.
In a letter Sunday to White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, Comer criticized the searches by Biden representatives and demanded that the White House provide all relevant information including visitor logs by the end of the month.
Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Comer referred to Biden’s home as a “crime scene” though he acknowledged that it was not clear whether laws were broken.
Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, said the Justice Department rightfully appointed special counsels to “get to the bottom” of the Biden classified documents matter as well as in a separate investigation into the mishandling of classified documents at former President Trump’s private club and residence in Florida.
But Raskin also emphasized key differences between the two cases, including that Biden’s team readily handed over documents to the National Archives compared with Trump’s repeated resistance to such requests.
A federal judge has unsealed additional portions of an FBI affidavit laying out the basis for a search of former President Trump’s Florida home
“We should keep a sense of proportion and measure about what we’re talking about,” Raskin told CNN.
Asked Sunday if his oversight committee would investigate Trump’s handling of classified documents as well, Comer demurred.
“There have been so many investigations of President Trump, I don’t feel like we need to spend a whole lot of time investigating President Trump, because the Democrats have done that for the past six years,” he said.
U.S. Secret Service spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Sunday that although the agency provides security at the president’s private residence, it does not maintain visitor logs.
He added that the agency does screen visitors to the president’s properties but doesn’t maintain records of those checks.
The White House confirmed that Biden has not independently maintained records of who has visited his residence since he became president.
“Like every president in decades of modern history, his personal residence is personal,” White House spokesman Ian Sams said. “But upon taking office, President Biden restored the norm and tradition of keeping White House visitors logs, including publishing them regularly, after the previous administration ended them.”
Indeed, President Trump’s administration announced early in his presidency that it wouldn’t release visitor logs out of “grave national security risks and privacy concerns of the hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.” President Obama’s administration initially fought attempts by Congress and conservative and liberal groups to obtain visitor records. But after being sued, it voluntarily began disclosing the logs in December 2009, posting records every three to four months.
A federal appeals court ruled in 2013 that the logs can be withheld under presidential executive privilege. That unanimous ruling was written by Judge Merrick Garland, who is now serving as Biden’s attorney general.
Asked about Comer’s request for logs and communications regarding the search for documents, Sams responded: “I would simply refer you to what Congressman Comer himself told CNN this morning: ‘At the end of the day, my biggest concern isn’t the classified documents to be honest with you.’ That says it all.”
In that CNN interview, Comer had added that House Republicans did not trust the Justice Department to give the matter of Biden’s classified documents an appropriate level of scrutiny. The House Judiciary Committee on Friday requested that Garland turn over information related to the discovery of documents and Garland’s appointment of special counsel Richard Hur to oversee the investigation.
White House lawyer Richard Sauber said in a statement Saturday that a total of six pages of classified documents were found from Biden’s time serving as vice president in the Obama administration during a search of Biden’s private library. The White House had said previously that only a single page was found there. The latest disclosure was in addition to the discovery of documents found in December in Biden’s garage and in November at his former offices at the Penn Biden Center in Washington.
Sauber said that Biden’s personal lawyers, who did not have security clearances, stopped their search after finding the first page on Wednesday evening. Sauber found the remaining material Thursday, as he was facilitating their retrieval by Justice Department.
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