Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle — and in both chambers — are calling for Congress to look more closely at the recent news that classified documents from now-President Biden’s tenure as vice president were found in a private office he’d previously used.
In the newly Republican-led House, Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), chair of the Oversight and Accountability Committee, has already launched a probe into the handling of the documents.
Over in the Senate, Democrat Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Mark Warner (Va.) is calling for Congress to be briefed on the matter.
Biden’s attorneys revealed they found a handful of Obama-Biden era documents while clearing out an office the now-president used between his White House stints, when he served as an honorary professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington.
Biden’s special counsel Richard Sauber said the legal team notified the National Archives, which took possession of the materials. The documents are now reportedly being looked at by the U.S. attorney general for Chicago, with cooperation from the White House.
The revelation has riled many on the right who see the response to the document discovery in stark contrast to the treatment of former President Trump when an FBI search uncovered over a hundred classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago residence last summer.
“The President has previously called the mishandling of presidential records ‘totally irresponsible.’ … The Committee is concerned that President Biden has compromised sources and methods with his own mishandling of classified documents,” Comer wrote in a Tuesday letter to Biden’s White House counsel, requesting relevant documents and communications.
“The Committee expects President Biden will receive equal treatment under the law given that he maintained classified documents in his unsecured office for several years with access to an unknown number of people,” Comer wrote.
Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), the incoming House Intelligence Committee chair, also requested a damage assessment and a review of the classified materials contained in the documents in a Tuesday letter to FBI Director Avril Haines.
“This discovery of classified information would put President Biden in potential violation of laws protecting national security, including the Espionage Act and Presidential Records Act,” Turner said.
All presidential and vice-presidential records must be turned over to the National Archives at the end of an administration for preservation and safekeeping, per the Presidential Records Act.
But a key distinction between the Biden and Trump document discoveries is that Biden’s team notified the Archives and turned over the documents upon the reported finding, while Trump apparently kept classified materials even after requests from the Archives to return them.
Warner said the Senate Intel committee expects “to be briefed on what happened both at Mar-a-Lago and at the Biden office as part of our constitutional oversight obligations,” according to a statement obtained by NBC News.
“From what we know so far, the latter is about finding documents with markings, and turning them over, which is certainly different from a months-long effort to retain material actively being sought by the government. But again, that’s why we need to be briefed,” Warner said in the statement.
The Hill has reached out to Comer and Warner for more information.