National Archives’ general counsel told the committee the agency was prevented from making a public statement
WASHINGTON – Today, House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) is calling on White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients to answer whether White House staff suppressed the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) from issuing a public statement regarding President Biden’s mishandling of classified information. Chairman Comer is also reiterating his previous requests for information about the White House’s handling of this matter since it has failed to provide the requested documents.
“The Committee on Oversight and Accountability continues to investigate President Biden’s mishandling of highly classified documents,” wrote Chairman Comer. “The Committee has previously written the White House regarding this matter on January 10, 2023; January 13, 2023; and January 15, 2023. However, the White House has produced no documents and neglected to provide a substantive response to the Committee’s requests. Meanwhile, reports indicate the Federal Bureau of Investigation continues its search for more classified documents, most recently at the University of Delaware. The Committee is concerned about President Biden’s lack of transparency given the serious national security implications of his conduct.”
On January 31, 2023, the Committee conducted a transcribed interview with National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) general counsel, Gary Stern. The interview revealed that on January 9, 2023, when CBS broke the news that President Biden stored classified materials at Penn Biden Center, NARA drafted a statement and someone outside of NARA withheld its release from the public. Additionally, Mr. Stern confirmed with Committee counsel that President Biden can publicly release his communications between his attorneys and NARA but has still failed to do so.
“Indeed, the Committee learned that President Biden is ‘free to release’ all of his representatives’ communications and be completely transparent with the American people, if he chooses,” continued Chairman Comer. “The Committee’s transcribed interview with NARA General Counsel Gary Stern raises more questions regarding the Biden Administration’s involvement in suppressing information related to President Biden’s mishandling of classified documents.”
In addition to the requests on January 10, 13, and 15, Chairman Comer is now seeking to determine who, if anyone, at the White House instructed NARA to withhold public statements regarding President Biden’s mishandling of classified documents.
The letter to White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients can be found here.