The National Archives and Records Administration missed a deadline to turn over documents to Congress relevant to an investigation into whether political bias played a role in its soft-spoken approach to President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents Biden.
The failure comes amid concerns that NARA may be giving Biden preferential treatment, especially when compared to how it handled a similar matter involving former President Donald Trump. After all, the acting head of NARA, Debra Steidel Wall, was one of the main figures who triggered the FBI’s raid on Trump’s residence over allegedly mishandled documents.
What is the background?
Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) wrote to Archivist Wall on Jan. 10 about “a political bias” at NARA.
“For months, NARA failed to disclose to Republicans on the Committee or to the American public that President Biden, after serving as Vice President, stored highly classified documents in a cabinet in his personal office. NARA learned from “these documents days before the 2022 midterm elections and did so. failed to alert the public that President Biden was potentially violating the law,” Comer wrote.
“Meanwhile, NARA instigated an unprecedented, public raid by the FBI at Mar-a-Lago, the home of former President Trump, to retrieve presidential records. NARA’s inconsistent handling of retrieving classified records in power of former President Trump and President Biden raises questions about political bias at the agency,” he added.
Comer noted that, unlike in the case of Trump, whose residence was raided by armed FBI agents, no search warrants were executed after documents from the Obama-Biden administration were discovered that they were still held by Biden. Instead, the president’s lawyers handled the situation “quietly” with the Justice Department.
Committee Republicans wrote to NARA in August, saying, “The apparent weaponization of the federal government against President Biden’s political rivals cannot go unchecked, and if NARA is working to advance these efforts, it will be only the latest agency to lose credibility in the eyes of the American people under the Biden administration.”
Committee Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Mich.) echoed those statements in an op-ed this week, writing, “We can see several systemic failures in oversight that have led to widespread deception,” including “the weaponization of a federal agency.” to withhold information from Congress and use the power of the presidency to hide a story until after the midterms.”
The committee requested that, no later than January 24, NARA release all documents and communications:
between NARA and the White House regarding classified documents at the Penn Biden Center;between and among NARA employees related to such classified documents; between NARA and DOJ related to documents; and between NARA and any outside entity, including Biden’s lawyers.
In his January 10 letter, Comer also clarified that the “Oversight and Accountability Committee has specific jurisdiction over NARA under House Rule X.”
NARA presents nothing
January 24th came and went, but NARA did not provide the commission with any of the requested documents.
A spokesman for the committee told Axios, “The National Archives has not submitted the requested documents to the Committee at this time,” adding that “Chairman Comer’s request is still pending and he plans to move forward with an interview transcribed with NARA’s General Counsel soon.”
Committee Chairman Rep. Comer told Newsmax that “there is a problem with how the National Archives is doing things.”
Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, told Fox News Digital that NARA has been “much less prominent” during the Biden scandal than it was during the DOJ’s apparent Trump fault-finding mission, stressing that “it will have to be more transparent.” with Congress or risk contempt sanctions.”
Derrick Morgan, a one-time staff secretary to Vice President Dick Cheney, suggested that NARA’s silence on Biden and aggressiveness toward Trump indicate a “double standard.”
Because of its possible double standards, NARA now faces double scrutiny from both houses of Congress.
Before NARA’s failure to meet its deadline, Republican Sens. Ron Johnson (Wis.) and Chuck Grassley (Iowa) wrote a letter to Chief Archivist Debra Wall demanding “full transparency regarding their involvement, knowledge and role regarding the existence of these classified and unclassified documents.”
The letter cited several instances in which NARA had previously refused to provide records that the Biden administration might want to keep secret, including records related to the Biden family’s “financial dealings and potential conflicts of interest.” as well as the records “about the then Vicenç”. President Joe Biden’s Use of Non-Government Email for Government Business, Transmission of Government Information to His Son, Hunter Biden, and Compliance with Federal Records Laws.”
The Republican senators said they are conducting an “objective review of NARA’s involvement” in these matters, as well as its “interactions related to the discovery of records, including marked classifieds” found in homes and Biden offices.
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