White House lawyers say Bidens’ “personal whereabouts are personal” after Republicans demand more information about searches.
There are no visitor logs for US President Joe Biden’s residence where files containing secret markings were recently discovered, the White House legal counsel said, after Republicans demanded such records be released.
“Like any president in the decades of modern history, his personal whereabouts are personal,” the White House counsel’s office said in a statement Monday.
“But upon taking office, President Biden restored the standard and tradition of keeping White House visitor logs, including publishing them regularly, after the previous administration had terminated them.”
The Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee had demanded visitor logs for Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware after classified documents were found in the Democratic president’s office and garage.
“Without a list of individuals who visited his residence, the American people will never know who had access to these highly sensitive documents,” Representative James Comer said in a letter to White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain on Sunday.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced last week that he would appoint Robert Hur, a former U.S. attorney in Maryland, as special counsel to investigate Biden’s dealings with the sensitive government documents.
The move came after a “small number” of classified documents dating back to former US President Barack Obama’s administration were found in his Delaware home. Files with secret markings from Biden’s time as vice president were also discovered in November in his former office at a Washington, DC think tank.
Lawyers for the US president said on Saturday that five additional pages were found at the Wilmington residence and turned over to authorities.
The White House has said it immediately turned over all documents to the US Justice Department, adding that it is “cooperating fully” to ensure they are handled properly.
But the discoveries have left Biden with a political headache, with Republicans accusing him of hypocrisy after criticizing his predecessor, Donald Trump, for his own alleged mishandling of classified documents.
The Justice Department is investigating how Trump handled secret files he kept at his personal residence, Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, after leaving the White House in January 2021.
But many experts have said the difference between the two scenarios is that Biden’s team turned in the files immediately, while US authorities needed a subpoena to retrieve documents from Trump’s home.
Still, GOP lawmakers have tried to compare the Biden documents case to Trump’s.
Comer, the Republican legislator, referred to Biden’s residence as a “crime scene” during an interview with CNN’s State of the Union program on Sunday — though he acknowledged it wasn’t clear if any laws were being broken.
“My concern is that the special counsel was called, but hours after that, we still had the president’s personal attorneys, who didn’t have security clearance, who were still prowling the president’s residence, looking for things — I mean, that would essentially be a crime. scene, so to speak,” he said.
Meanwhile, Comer said he wouldn’t be looking for visitor logs for Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, where more than 100 classified documents — some labeled top secret — were found in an August FBI search.
“I don’t feel like we should spend a lot of time on it because the Democrats have been doing that for the past six years,” he said in the CNN interview.
There is no legal requirement that US presidents disclose the names of visitors to their homes or the White House.
However, the Biden administration reinstated the revelations made by official guests at the White House and released the first set of records in May 2021, after Trump suspended the practice shortly after taking office in 2017.