The White House on Monday pledged to “accommodate legitimate oversight interests” in response to House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairman James Comer’s (R-Ky.) request for materials related to classified documents found at President Biden’s old office and Delaware home.
White House counsel Stuart Delery wrote to Comer that the administration does not have possession of the documents the National Archives and Department of Justice (DOJ) have taken as part of the investigation into Biden’s handling of classified materials.
Delery noted any cooperation with House Republican oversight requests would have to be balanced with disclosures that could affect the integrity of the ongoing investigation.
“The Biden Administration takes seriously the security and protection of government records, particularly classified information,” Delery wrote. “We look forward to engaging in good faith with you and your staff regarding your requests. To that end, White House staff will reach out to Committee staff to arrange a time to discuss this matter.”
Delery’s response comes after Comer sent letters to the White House on Jan. 10 and Jan. 13. The first letter sought information about materials found at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C., during a November 2022 search.
The Jan. 13 letter from Comer asked for “all classified documents retrieved by Biden aides or lawyers at any location,” communications between White House and DOJ officials about classified documents retrieved from Biden’s old office or home, and a list of aides or lawyers who had searched for documents and where they looked.
The Delery letter is the first White House response to the GOP since the House Oversight and Accountability Committee signaled it would investigate Biden’s handling of classified materials, which has come under intense scrutiny after a steady drip of new information in recent weeks.
The White House first confirmed a CBS News report on Jan. 10 that lawyers for the president had found classified materials in his old Penn Biden Center office days before the midterm elections.
Since then, the White House has disclosed that additional documents with classified markings were found at Biden’s Wilmington, Del., home in mid-December and in mid-January.
On Saturday, the White House confirmed that FBI agents had conducted a search a day earlier with the permission of the president’s legal team that turned up six more items with classified markings.
The White House has stressed that Biden takes the handling of classified documents seriously and has emphasized that the administration is fully cooperating with the Department of Justice and the National Archives throughout the process.
But the slow drip of new discoveries has put the White House in a difficult position, particularly after Biden said he was surprised by the discoveries at his office and after the press office had said the search of his home was completed earlier this month.
Some Senate Democrats on Sunday were critical of Biden’s handling of the situation and suggested the controversy has been embarrassing for the president.