House Republicans on Tuesday called on the White House to answer whether it suppressed a statement from the National Archives issued in response to President Biden’s mishandling of classified documents.
The alleged suppression was revealed during a Jan. 31 interview of National Archives general counsel Gary Stern by the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability interview.
Stern told the Committee that NARA drafted a statement on Jan. 9 in response to the news of President Biden’s mishandling of classified documents, but someone outside NARA withheld its release from the public.
House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., said Stern confirmed with the Committee that Biden can publicly release his communications between his attorneys and NARA but has failed to do so.
‘Indeed, the Committee learned that President Biden is ‘free to release’ all of his representatives’ communications and can be completely transparent with the American people, if he chooses,’ Comer wrote in a Tuesday letter to White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients.
‘The Committee’s transcribed interview with NARA General Counsel Gary Stern raises more questions regarding the Biden Administration’s involvement in suppressing information related to President Biden’s mishandling of classified documents.’
Comer said the Committee has, on several occasions – Jan. 10, 13, and 15 – requested documents from the White House regarding the president’s mishandling of classified materials. The Chairman reiterated those requests in his letter to Zients.
Comer also requested that the White House release Biden’s personal attorney’s communication with NARA, setting a deadline of March 21.
Later Tuesday, ranking member of the House Oversight Committee ranking member Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., called Comer’s claims of White House suppression ‘misleading’ and contradicted by Stern’s interview transcript.
Raskin called on Comer to release the full transcript of the voluntary transcribed Committee’s interview with Stern.
‘Committee Republicans continue to make unfounded accusations of disparate treatment by the National Archives and the Department of Justice in their efforts to preserve presidential records and secure classified records,’ Raskin said.
The Democratic lawmaker released a previously undisclosed letter sent during the previous Congress demonstrating the DOJ’s request to the NARA not to disclose information to the Committee so as to ‘protect the integrity of our ongoing work.’
Raskin said Stern had identified the requested documents within a week Comer’s letter and NARA provided those documents for the DOJ to review before the Committee’s requested deadline.
In Stern’s interview, Raskin said, the general counsel confirmed that the NARA is committed to producing documents responsive to the Committee Republican’s requests while ensuring that it does not interfere with the DOJ’s ongoing investigations.
‘Committee Republicans have failed to identify any evidence to support their irresponsible claims that the National Archives and the Department of Justice are politically biased and have been uncooperative with their investigation,’ Raskin said. ‘I’m calling on Chairman Comer to release the full, complete and unedited transcribed interview with Mr. Stern, so that the American public can evaluate the facts free from partisan spin.’
Since the November discovery, Biden’s attorneys have uncovered other documents and so has the FBI, which searched his Wilmington and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, homes as well as the Penn Biden Center, the think tank affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania. Biden has turned over records voluntarily and agreed to the searches.
Discovery of the classified documents touched off a special counsel probe by the Justice Department.
After the news first surfaced about Biden documents, former Vice President Mike Pence said he also had found classified information at his home, and the FBI discovered an additional document with classified markings after he allowed them to search his home in Indiana. Archives officials have asked administrations going back to the Reagan presidency to comb through their records to make sure there are no more classified records or other items that should belong with the Archives.
The issue took on greater significance since former President Trump insistently retained classified material at his Florida estate, prompting the unprecedented FBI seizure of thousands of pages of records last year.
Fox News Digital has reached out to the White House and NARA for comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.