By Doina Chiacu
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee on Sunday demanded visitor logs for President Joe Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, after classified documents were found in his office and garage.
“Without a list of individuals who visited his residence, the American people will never know who had access to these highly sensitive documents,” Rep. James Comer said in a letter to White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain on Sunday.
Republicans have attempted to compare the Biden documents case to that of former President Donald Trump, who faces a federal criminal investigation into how he handled classified documents after leaving the White House. But legal experts say there are stark contrasts between the two cases.
Comer said he would not look for visitor logs for Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, where more than 100 classified documents were found in an FBI search.
“I don’t feel like we should spend a lot of time on it because the Democrats have been doing that for the past six years,” he said in an interview with CNN on Sunday.
Trump has announced that he would run for president again in 2024, with Biden as his expected Democratic rival.
Biden’s revelations came out last week after his legal team said it found classified documents related to his time as vice president in the Obama administration at his home in Delaware. His lawyers reported on Saturday that they had found five extra pages at his home.
There is no legal requirement that US presidents disclose visitors to their homes or the White House. The Biden administration reinstated disclosure of official guests to the White House, releasing the first batch of documents in May 2021. Former President Donald Trump had suspended the practice shortly after taking office in 2017.
TRUMP VS. BIDEN DOCUMENTS
Republicans in the US House of Representatives launched an investigation Friday into the Justice Department’s handling of improperly filed classified documents in Biden’s possession. Comer’s committee is also investigating the matter.
The investigation comes as Trump comes under federal criminal investigation for mishandling classified documents after his presidency.
In the Biden case, the president’s lawyers informed the National Archives and Justice Department about finding a small number of documents at a Washington think tank and later at Biden’s home in Wilmington.
In Trump’s case, more than a year after Trump left office, the National Archives tried unsuccessfully to retrieve all the documents he kept. When Trump finally returned 15 boxes of documents in January 2022, archives discovered they contained classified material.
After the case was referred to the Justice Department, Trump’s lawyers turned over more material from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, saying there were no more documents at the property.
That turned out to be false. Ultimately, the FBI recovered an additional 13,000 documents, about 100 of which were marked as classified, from the estate.
House Democrats introduced the “Mar-a-Lago Act” in 2017, which would require Trump to regularly reveal visitors to his Florida home, but it was never voted on in the chamber or the full Congress.
Democratic Representative Adam Schiff, the outgoing chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Congress should ask the U.S. intelligence community whether documents, from Trump or Biden, endanger national security.
“I don’t think we can rule out the possibility without knowing more of the facts,” Schiff said on TBEN’s “This Week.”
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; editing by Heather Timmons and Lisa Shumaker)