National Archives Wasn’t Allowed To Reveal Biden Classified Documents Discovery

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Top House Republican claims that the National Archives’ top lawyer “wasn’t allowed” to comment on President Joe Biden’s discovery of classified documents — despite repeatedly commenting publicly on President Donald Trump’s similar situation.

The National Archives has been quiet about Biden’s classified documents saga, which is a stark contrast with how it dealt with Trump’s scandal. In early 2022, it created a section on its website called “Press Statements in Respond to Media Queries about Presidential Records”. This section was dedicated to the numerous press releases that were issued on the Trump Mar-a-Lago documents saga. The agency has not issued a single press release about the scandal in the months since it was first reported by the National Archives.

Rep. James Comer (R.KY), who is now the chairman of the House Oversight Committee conducted a transcript interview with Gary Stern, National Archives general counsel, on Tuesday. Stern revealed that he was prevented from publishing public press releases about the Biden classified document saga. Comer suggested only the Justice Department and the White House could have blocked National Archives.

Comer stated on Fox News that “Right before National Archives arrived, they handed us an email from the Department of Justice informing us and them that the general counsel for National Archives wasn’t permitted to speak about the Biden documents.” We went ahead, and we had a three-plus-hour transcribed interview. What we discovered was that Donald Trump was treated differently than Joe Biden.

Comer stated that “an example of bias” was the number of Mar-a-Lago press release compared to zero Biden classified document press releases on National Archives website.

Comer stated that Stern had also testified that he had written answers to GOP requests for information about the Biden classified documents. However, the general counsel “wasn’t allowed” to make the information public. Comer reiterated his belief that the DOJ or White House could be responsible.

Biden’s personal lawyers claimed that they discovered classified documents at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 2. Biden’s attorneys contacted White House Counsel’s Office, which in turn contacted National Archives. On Nov. 3, the National Archives informed its inspector general, and the watchdog reached out to DOJ on November 4.

Since then, the president’s lawyers found more classified documents at Biden’s Wilmington, Delaware home. The DOJ also found more documents when it did its own search earlier in the month. Biden’s attorney confirmed Wednesday that the FBI was searching Biden’s Delaware beach house in Rehoboth.

Mar-a-Lago was weighed by the National Archives in January 2022. It also weighed in twice on February 2022 and October 2022. It released three additional Mar-a-Lago press release after learning of classified documents at Penn Biden Center.

Two quotes were provided by David Ferriero, then-Archivist, in a February 2022 press release. Ferriero stressed the importance of Presidential Records Act and said that it is “critical to our democracy” and that there should be “no question about [the] need to] both diligence, and vigilance when it comes “to the timely transfer of them at the end an Administration to the National Archives. The Biden story has not been mentioned in any press releases.

Debra Wall, Archivist, wrote a letter last month to Comer defending her agency’s actions.

Wall stated that the DOJ had advised it to consult with the Office of Special Counsel, DOJ, to determine if information can be released while not interfering in the SCO investigation.

According to the archivist, it was only after the Trump and Biden classified document sagas were “publicly reported in the press”, that the National Archives started responding to congressional inquiries.

Robert Hur, a DOJ veteran, was selected by Attorney General Merrick Galrland to serve as special counsel in the investigation of classified documents that were sent to Biden on January 12. Biden and his White House refused to confirm whether the president would be willing to meet with the special counsel.