The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) failed to meet a Jan. 24 deadline to hand over materials requested by the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability relating to the discovery of classified documents in President Joe Biden’s former office, a committee spokesperson confirmed to The Epoch Times.
Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) asked Acting NARA Archivist Debra Steidel Wall in a Jan. 10 letter (pdf) to provide various information related to the classified records by no later than Jan. 24.
The information requested by the lawmaker included all related documents and communications between NARA and the White House, among NARA employees, between NARA and the Department of Justice (DOJ), and between NARA and any outside entities—including Biden’s attorneys—relating to the documents found at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington.
Those documents were initially discovered on Nov. 2, 2022, a week before the midterm elections, but the findings weren’t made public until two months later.
NARA Says It Must ‘Consult’ With DOJ
In a statement to The Washington Examiner on Jan. 24, a committee spokesperson said GOP investigators plan to conduct a transcribed interview with NARA’s general counsel soon, which would provide lawmakers with a more detailed timeline as to how the discovery of the classified documents was handled.
NARA officials didn’t respond by press time to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.
On Jan. 16, Comer accused NARA of failing to be “transparent with the American people” in a post on Twitter, adding that many unanswered questions about the documents remain.
In response to Comer’s Jan. 10 letter, Wall said the agency must first consult with the DOJ before it can hand over information related to the discovery of the Biden classified documents to Republican lawmakers.
“I want to express my commitment to working cooperatively with you and your staff on this and all matters of concern to the Committee on Oversight and Accountability,” Wall wrote in a Jan. 17 letter (pdf) to the lawmaker. “Our desire to provide you with as much information as we can, however, must also be balanced with the need to protect Executive branch equities, particularly as they relate to ongoing criminal law enforcement investigations by DOJ.”
Wall added that the agency must first consult with the DOJ regarding the release of any such records.
“DOJ has advised it will need to consult with the newly appointed Office of Special Counsel (SCO) in DOJ, to assess whether information can be released without interfering with the SCO’s investigation,” Wall wrote.
Comer Says White House ‘Stonewalling’ Probe
After the initial documents were found at the Penn Biden Center in November 2022, a second batch was discovered from Biden’s time in the Obama administration at his residence in Wilmington, Delaware, the White House said.
Additional documents were later found at the property shortly after Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Robert Hur, a former federal prosecutor in Maryland, as special counsel to investigate whether any person or entity violated the law regarding the handling of the documents.
In a Jan. 22 interview for “Sunday Morning Futures” on Fox News, Comer also took aim at the White House, who he accused of “stonewalling” the Republican-led probe into Biden’s handling of classified documents.
During that interview, the Kentucky lawmaker also said that he would be sending letters to the Secret Service requesting further information regarding the documents, including any type of correspondence, emails, and documentation that could help GOP lawmakers determine who may have had access to the newly discovered documents.
“Hopefully, the Secret Service will work with us, despite the fact that this White House is not,” Comer said.
The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment, although the White House counsel’s office has previously said that the president is committed to operating with the Justice Department’s investigation into the classified documents.
On Jan. 24, lawyers revealed that “a small number” of documents with classification markings were found at former Vice President Mike Pence’s home.
The documents were initially found on Jan. 16 at Pence’s home in Indiana, in the wake of the documents found at Biden’s former office and residence, Greg Jacob, one of Pence’s lawyers, wrote in a letter to NARA.