WASHINGTON, Jan 15 (Reuters) – The Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee requested visitor records on Sunday after classified documents were found in President Joe Biden’s office and garage in Wilmington, Delaware.
In a letter to White House Chief of Staff Ron Klein dated Sunday, Rep. James Comer said, “Without a list of people who visited his residence, the American people would never know who had access to these very important documents.
Republicans have sought to compare the Biden documents case, which includes content from his time as vice president, to former President Donald Trump, who faces a federal criminal investigation into how he handled classified documents after he leaves the White House in 2021. Legal experts say there are stark contradictions between the two cases.
Comer said he would not seek visitor records for Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, where more than 100 classified documents — some of them designated top secret — were found in an FBI search.
“I don’t think we should spend the whole time because the Democrats have been doing it for the last six years,” he told CNN in an interview Sunday.
Trump has announced he will run for president again in 2024, with Biden expected to be the Democratic challenger.
Biden’s revelations came last week after his legal team said they found classified documents related to his time as vice president in the Obama administration at his Delaware home. His lawyers said on Saturday that he had five additional pages in his home.
The 10 or so documents found in the Ben Biden Center’s think tank include some highly classified information, CBS reported Sunday, citing an unidentified law enforcement source. The White House had no comment on the report. A representative for Biden’s personal attorney, Bob Bauer, did not return a request for comment.
There is no legal requirement that U.S. presidents exhibit an audience at their home or at the White House. The Biden administration recovered the disclosures of official guests at the White House and released its first batch of records in May 2021. Former President Donald Trump ended the practice shortly after taking office in 2017.
TRUMP VS. Biden Document Issues
Republicans in the US House of Representatives on Friday launched an investigation into the Justice Department’s handling of improperly stored classified documents held by Biden. The Commerce Commission is also considering the case.
The investigation comes as Trump is under federal criminal investigation for mishandling classified documents after taking office.
In the Biden case, the president’s lawyers notified the National Archives and the Department of Justice of the discovery of a small number of documents at a think tank in Washington and later at Biden’s Wilmington home.
In the Trump case, the National Archives spent more than a year trying, without success, to retrieve all of Trump’s retained records after he left office. When Trump finally returned the 15 boxes of documents in January 2022, archives officials discovered they contained classified material.
After the matter was referred to the Justice Department, Trump’s lawyers turned over additional items from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and said there were no documents on the premises.
It turned out to be false. Ultimately, the FBI recovered 13,000 documents from the estate, about 100 of which were classified.
House Democrats introduced the “Mar-a-Lago Act” in 2017, which would have required Trump to regularly disclose visitors to his Florida home, but it was not voted on in the chamber or in the full Congress.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the outgoing chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Congress should seek an assessment from the US intelligence community about whether any documents from Trump or Biden could affect national security.
“I don’t think we can rule out the possibility without knowing more facts,” Schiff said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Report by Doina Chiaku; Editing by Heather Timmons and Lisa Shumaker
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