Oversight Chairman Rep. James Comer wants new White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients to hand over all communications about a statement from the National Archives that was drafted — but not released — on the day of an explosive report on documents found in a former office for President Biden are marked as classified .
Comer has advanced the demand in a new letter to Zients, which follows other attempts to obtain potentially damaging information from the White House.
This time, he’s armed with information obtained from the records’ lead attorney Gary Stern.
The push comes amid escalating tensions with the White House, which last week slammed Comer for “despicable” claims that Biden’s late son Hunter should have been charged.
Representative James Comer (R-KY) has sent a letter to the White House, this time to learn more about a statement from the National Archives that was written but not released when the discovery of documents marked as “classified” at the Penn Biden center was made public for the first time
Comer cites the testimony where Stern was asked in an appearance before the Oversight and Accountability Committee if he had prepared a statement the day CBS News reported on Jan. 9 that documents stored at the Penn Biden Center contained classified material.
On January 9, 2023, CBS broke the story that President Biden stored documents at the Penn Biden Center that were covered by the Presidential Records Act and also contained classified material. Did you draw up a statement in response to that CBS report?
“NARA has prepared a statement,” he replied.
“Has it become public?” Stern was asked and responded in the negative. When asked who prevented a statement from becoming public, he replied, “DOJ guidelines do not allow me to discuss the content of our communications with other parties.”
Comer addressed the letter to the new White House Chief of Staff, Jeff Zients
The letter follows the discovery of documents with secret markings in Biden’s Wilmington home and other developments
The many reports on Biden have led to a second special counsel investigation
In February, there was another search at the University of Delaware, where Biden’s Senate documents are housed
The search for classified material continues
Comer refers to earlier letters that received no substantive response
He cites testimony from an Archief lawyer
Stern was then told that the archives released a statement after the Washington Post reported that documents marked as classified had been discovered at former President Donald Trump’s home in Mar-a-Lago.
“The committee is concerned about President Biden’s lack of transparency given the serious national security implications of his conduct,” Comer wrote.
White House spokesman Ian Sams pointed to one February tweet where he is quoted saying that the White House has not asked the records to withhold a statement.
The Comer letter that the Republican-led panel had fired at previous letters dated January 10, 13, and 15, without any document production or “substantial response.”
Maryland Representative Jamie Raskin, the lead Democrat on the committee, released his own letter denying the administration “inappropriately suppressed information” and calling on Comer to release the transcript in its entirety.
“Republicans on the Committee continue to raise baseless allegations of disparate treatment by the National Archives and the Justice Department in their efforts to preserve presidential records and secure classified documents,” Raskin said.
Today, Committee Democrats are releasing a previously classified letter received last Congress from the Justice Department demonstrating the agency’s long-standing policy of not disclosing information that could compromise the integrity of ongoing investigations. to disturb. The Committee’s Republicans have found no evidence to support their irresponsible claims that the National Archives and Justice Department are politically biased and uncooperative in their investigations.’
He called on Comer to release the transcript of Stern’s interview “so that the American public can judge the facts free from partisan spin.”
The battle for information on the White House is the latest location in the sprawling document saga.
Last month, the FBI searched the University of DelawareBiden’s alma matter where many of his Senate records are kept.
That followed searches of his Penn Biden office, his Wilmington home and his Rehoboth, Delaware Beach House looking for additional material.
Separate special counsel appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland are investigating Biden’s document issues, as well as the administration’s long-running efforts to recover government materials, including documents marked “secret” from former President Donald Trump.
Comer’s letter said the case “raises more questions about the Biden administration’s involvement in withholding information about President Biden’s mishandling of classified documents.”
The White House has publicly argued the opposite: that the administration voluntarily complied and was “transparent” about information coming in. It continues to raise questions as to why the information was not immediately released when Biden’s team first discovered material days before the November election.
Biden said in January, as the story was still unfolding, that he had “no regrets” and “followed what the lawyers told me they wanted me to do.”