The Republican-led House Oversight Committee says it has evidence that a White House employee accessed President Biden’s files from the Penn Biden Center as early as March 2021.
As part of its expanding probe into Biden’s handling of sensitive papers from his time as vice president, the panel wants to interview numerous current and former senior White House employees.
🚨 BREAKING 🚨
We have discovered new information about the number of White House employees involved in President Biden’s mishandling of classified documents.
President Biden’s attorney stated that the discovery of classified documents at Penn Biden Center occurred on November… pic.twitter.com/rLN1VJyRKC
— Oversight Committee (@GOPoversight) October 11, 2023
“We have discovered new information about the number of White House employees involved in President Biden’s mishandling of classified documents,” the Oversight Committee relayed.
“President Biden’s attorney stated that the discovery of classified documents at Penn Biden Center occurred on November 2, 2022,” the committee added. “Our Committee has developed evidence showing the timeline of relevant events began in 2021 and involved at least five White House employees. President Biden and his legal team omitted months of communications, planning, and coordinating among multiple White House officials, a former VP staffer, Penn Biden Center employees, and President Biden’s personal attorneys to retrieve the boxes containing classified materials.”
“There is no reasonable explanation as to why this many White House employees and lawyers were so concerned with retrieving boxes they reportedly believed contained only personal documents and materials,” the committee noted.
Committee chairman and Kentucky Republican James Comer wrote to White House counsel Edward Siskel to complain that the schedule provided by Biden’s personal attorney “omitted months of communications, planning, and coordinating.”
A staffer of the Penn Biden Center, where Biden had an office after he left the vice presidency, allegedly informed the committee in a letter that senior White House adviser Annie Tomasini “[took] inventory of President Biden’s documents and materials”
The informant also stated that Ashley Williams, the deputy director of Oval Office Operations, took “a few” of Biden’s boxes on October 13, 2022.
Both the National Archives and the Department of Justice have been cited by the White House as repositories for pertinent records. Biden’s personal attorney, Bob Bauer, has previously stated that sensitive materials were discovered at the Penn Biden Center for the first time on November 2, 2022.
The White House did not disclose this discovery prior to the 2022 Midterm Elections. In January, further classified materials were discovered at the president’s house in Delaware. The mainstream media then reported on the discovery for the first time.
Three witnesses have been interviewed by the committee so far, and their testimony suggests that on five separate occasions, White House staff members such as former White House Counsel Dana Remus and former presidential assistant Kathy Chung, who is now employed by the Department of Defense, visited the Penn Biden Center to conduct an audit, pack up, or remove items. The dates ranged from March of 2021 to mid-October of 2022 for these excursions.
So far, the committee has chosen not to share the transcripts of the interviews with the witnesses.
Comer’s letter goes on, “There is no reasonable explanation as to why this many White House employees and lawyers were so concerned with retrieving boxes they believed only contained personal documents and materials.”
In April, the Oversight Committee took an interview from Chung and remarked on its import.
Comer (R-Ky.) said that Chung, “provided startling information that undermines the Biden White House’s narrative on the matter.”
“Today we learned that when Joe Biden left the vice presidency, boxes containing classified documents, vice presidential records, and other items were stored in three different locations around the Washington, DC, area, including an office near the White House, an office in Chinatown, and eventually the Penn Biden Center,” the lawmaker said on April 4.
“At some point, the boxes containing classified materials were transported by personal vehicles to an office location,” Comer went on.
The committee has asked for transcripts of interviews with Remus, Williams, Tomasini, top first lady adviser Anthony Bernal, and West Wing employee Katie Reilly, suggesting that the scope of the investigation has broadened. The request also includes paperwork and correspondence concerning the documentation. Former Vice President Biden’s assistant Chung was already interviewed by the committee.
A spokeswoman for Democrats on the House Oversight Committee deflected by saying, “Former President Trump’s willful retention of hundreds of highly classified documents, his defiance of court-ordered subpoenas, his reported disclosure of our country’s most sensitive national security information, and false statements to law enforcement should worry the Chair of a congressional committee with jurisdiction over government records.”
According to the spokesperson, “Instead Chairman Comer is using the Committee to focus on President Biden whose complete cooperation with the Special Counsel’s investigation stands in stark contrast, including voluntarily participating in a two-day interview with the Special Counsel, and opening the doors to his Penn Biden Center office and private residence to investigators.”
An aide to the Oversight Committee said that the team has not yet requested access to the confidential documents at issue, but that they intend to do so shortly.
Just days before, in the course of the Justice Department’s investigation into the same matter, special counsel Robert Hur interviewed the president in person. The interview with Biden may indicate that the probe, which began in January, is drawing to a close.