More than a year before White House lawyers claim to have ‘discovered’ classified documents at the Penn Biden Center in November of 2022, evidence has emerged that White House employees ‘inspected’ or ‘took inventory’ of them, while another official removed “a few” boxes containing Biden materials that October, according to the House Oversight Committee.
According to a letter to White House counsel Edward Siskel from Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY), the official timeline of events provided by the Biden team “omitted months of communications, planning, and coordinating.”
Comer says that a Penn Biden Center employee told the committee that on March 18, 2021, senior White House aide Annie Tomasini “[took] inventory of President Biden’s documents and materials” stored at the center, where he established a private office after his vice presidency.
The same witness also said that on Oct. 13, 2022, Oval Office deputy director of operations, Ashley Williams, removed “a few” of Biden’s boxes.
The White House has previously claimed that all relevant documents were either moved to the National Archives or the DOJ, while Biden’s personal attorney, Bob Bauer, said that the documents were discovered on November 2, 2022 – a total lie.
The committee, which has conducted three witness interviews, says on five occasions, White House employees, including former White House Counsel Dana Remus, and the president’s former assistant Kathy Chung, a current Department of Defense employee, went to the Penn Biden Center to take inventory, pack up or remove materials. These visits occurred between March 2021 and mid-October 2022. –CBS News
“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,” said Comer in his letter.
🚨 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
The letter requests transcribed interviews with Remus, Williams, Tomasini, Anthony Bernal, a top adviser to the first lady, and Katie Reilly, a West Wing aide, according to CBS News.
It is also asking for documentation and communication related to the documents. The committee has already interviewed Chung, who was then-Vice President Biden’s assistant.
Democrats, of course, have resorted to whataboutism…
“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,” said a spokesman for Democrats on the House Oversight Committee. “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.”
As Jonathan Turley noted earlier, the ‘ultimate punchline’ here could be that Special Counsel Robert Hur may be in a sticky situation if he actually finds evidence of a crime.
On its face, the President claims that he had no knowledge of these documents appears dubious at best.
Some classified material reportedly goes back to Biden’s time as a senator — material that he would have had to remove from a sensitive compartmented information facility or secure room on Capitol Hill.
More importantly, the documents from the Obama Administration were removed when Biden left as vice president.
They were then divided and repeatedly moved to different locations. That suggests not just knowledge but a purpose.
Why were they divided and some documents were found in his garage and possibly his library?
If Hur found fingerprints that contradict Biden’s statements, he could face not just some of the same charges brought against Trump but also possible false statement or obstruction charges.
Notably, Biden used counsel to conduct searches and (as in the Trump case) additional classified materials were found after the Biden team said that they had finished their searches.
There are serious questions over whether, in allowing uncleared counsel to search through these documents, evidence may have been lost in how they were stored or appeared in locations like the garage.
Hur can bring charges against third parties, who would not be barred from indictment under the DOJ policy.
But what does Hur then do if he has evidence against the President himself?