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Republicans demand information on Joe Biden's visitor logs

Security personnel stand at the entrance to President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden's home in Wilmington, Delaware (Patrick Semansky/AP)
Hope Yen and Aamar Madhani, Associated Press

Newly empowered House Republicans demanded the White House turn over all information related to its searches that have uncovered classified documents at President Joe Biden’s home and former office in the wake of more records found at his Delaware residence.

“We have a lot of questions,” said Representative James Comer, chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee.

Mr Comer said he wants to see all documents and communications related to the searches by the Biden team, as well as visitor logs of the president’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, from January 20 2021, to present.

He said the aim is to determine who might have had access to classified material and how the records got there.

The White House on Saturday said it had discovered five additional pages of classified documents at Mr Biden’s home on Thursday, the same day a special counsel was appointed to review the matter.

In a letter on Sunday to White House chief of staff Ron Klain, Mr Comer criticised the searches by Biden representatives when the Justice Department was beginning to investigate and said Mr Biden’s “mishandling of classified materials raises the issue of whether he has jeopardised our national security”.

Mr Comer demanded that the White House provide all relevant information including visitor logs by the end of the month.

Appearing on CNN’s State Of The Union, Mr Comer referred to Mr Biden’s home as a “crime scene” though he acknowledged that it was not clear whether laws were broken.

“My concern is that the special counsel was called for, but yet hours after that we still had the president’s personal lawyers, who have no security clearance, still rummaging around the president’s residence, looking for things — I mean that would essentially be a crime scene, so to speak,” Mr Comer said.

While the US Secret Service provides security at the president’s private residence, it does not maintain visitor logs, agency spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said on Sunday.

“We don’t independently maintain our own visitor logs because it’s a private residence,” Mr Guglielmi said.

He added that the agency does screen visitors to the president’s properties but does not maintain records of those checks.

The White House confirmed that Biden has not independently maintained records of who has visited his residence since he became president.

“Like every President in decades of modern history, his personal residence is personal,” White House spokesman Ian Sams said.

“But upon taking office, President Biden restored the norm and tradition of keeping White House visitors logs, including publishing them regularly, after the previous administration ended them.”

Biden Wilmington
Security personnel stand at the entrance to President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware (Patrick Semansky/AP)

Indeed, President Donald Trump’s administration announced early in his presidency that they would not release visitor logs out of “grave national security risks and privacy concerns of the hundreds of thousands of visitors annually”.

Democrat Barack Obama’s administration initially fought attempts by Congress and conservative and liberal groups to obtain visitor records.

But after being sued, it voluntarily began disclosing the logs in December 2009, posting records every three to four months.

A federal appeals court ruled in 2013 that the logs can be withheld under presidential executive privilege.

That unanimous ruling was written by Judge Merrick Garland, who is now serving as Mr Biden’s attorney general.

Asked about Mr Comer’s request for logs and communications regarding the search for documents, Mr Sams responded: “I would simply refer you to what Congressman Comer himself told CNN this morning: ‘At the end of the day, my biggest concern isn’t the classified documents to be honest with you’.

“That says it all.”


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