Subpoenas will be on the table for the White House and the National Archives if they don’t comply with House Oversight Committee requests regardingand former private office, Chairman James Comer told CBS News on Friday.
Asked by CBS News senior investigative correspondent Catherine Herridge if the committee would issue subpoenas if the White House did not fully comply with the committee’s requests for documents and communications by the Jan. 24 deadline, Comer replied “yes”.
Regarding timing, Kentucky’s Comer said “hopefully” the panel wouldn’t have to take that step, but didn’t rule out subpoenas in late January or early February.
On Tuesday, Comer asked the White House to turn over documents and communications related to classified material, including the documents themselves, by January 24. He also asked the National Archives to provide all documents and communications between the Archives, the White House, the Justice Department and the president’s attorneys related to classified documents discovered at the Penn Biden Center, a Washington think tank created after Mr. Biden’s tenure as vice president.
Comer’s request made outside the White House on Wednesday confirmed reports that additional documents marked classified had been discovered at Mr. Biden’s home in Wilmington, Del. Comer, who is investigating Hunter Biden’s business dealings, contacted the White House legal counsel’s office and expressed concern. that the President had “stored classified documents in the same location as his son resided while engaging in international business dealings with adversaries of the United States”. Comer requested additional recordings by Jan. 27.
Comer said he considers the two locations where documents were discovered a “national security risk.” The Kentucky Republican said he’s “not a big fan of special advocates,” but said Attorney General Merrick Garland had “no choice” but to appoint a special advocate, since he has appointed a special counsel to investigate the documents stored at former President Donald Trump’s home. The Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, among others. This investigation is ongoing.
“He asked for one with Donald Trump and he had no choice but to call one with Joe Biden,” Comer said.
Garland announced Thursday that former Maryland U.S. Attorney Robert Hur will serve as special counsel to oversee the investigation into the Biden documents. Hur is the second special counsel appointed to oversee an investigation into sensitive documents, joining Jack Smith, who was tapped in November to take over the investigation into Trump’s handling of sensitive government documents.
Comer insisted that Republicans’ investigation of Biden’s documents was “not political.”
“We don’t know what Joe Biden had,” Comer said. “Either way, you have to treat Joe Biden the same way Trump was treated.”
The White House and the president’s attorney insist they turned the files over to the proper authorities immediately upon discovering them. Trump resisted handing over documents.
Federal investigators have recovered more than 300 documents marked classified in all cases from Mar-a-Lago and Justice Department lawyersin August that Trump is for potential violations of the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice, and unlawful concealment or removal of government records.
Mr. Biden’s personal attorneys found about 10 documents marked classified in his vice president’s office at the Penn Biden Center and a “small” number of documents at his home in Wilimington.
Asked if he was concerned the appointment of a special advocate would limit the committee’s investigation, Comer said he was ‘sure’ it would be used as a reason for not complying with the request. of the committee. But he hopes the special advocate will focus solely on investigating any mishandling of classified records.
Comer said the federal government needs to reform the system governing how records are processed, stored and transferred, and that’s something his committee will consider in the future.
“I don’t think we would know about these documents if there hadn’t been investigative reporting, so we want to know why the administration wasn’t being transparent sooner,” Comer said.
Grace Kazarian contributed to this report.