In an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity, the Kentucky congressman and new chairman of the House Oversight Committee said that National Archives general counsel Gary Stern told him had been blocked from making public statements on Biden's scandal, noting that only the Justice Department or the White House could have made that order.
"Right before the National Archives came in, they handed us a letter from the Department of Justice informing them and us that the general counsel for the National Archives wasn't allowed to say anything about the Biden documents," Comer said of an interview he was conducting with Stern. "But we went ahead and we had about a three-plus hour transcribed interview with the general counsel, and what we learned was that there is a double standard here with how Donald Trump was treated versus Joe Biden."
On the National Archives website, there is an entire section dedicated to the classified material found in Trump's residence in Mar-a-Lago in December 2021, less than a year since leaving the presidential office. Comer juxtaposed their coverage to their zero press releases on Biden's classified documents from when he was Vice President from 2009-2017 and from his time in the Senate nearly 15 years ago.
"So we asked the general counsel — why were there no press releases sent on Joe Biden once it was determined that he had classified documents in his possession?" Comer asked Hannity. "And the general counsel said that he did do press releases, but he was ordered and told they couldn't be published. So we did ask who gave him the orders, and he said, 'I can’t tell you that.'"
"But there are only two people who could have given him those orders," the Kentucky Republican said. "...and that is either the Department of Justice with Merrick Garland or the White House with Joe Biden."
Biden's lawyers said they discovered the first documents in question on November 2 at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, DC. The president's counsel has since found more classified documents in December and January at his personal residence in Wilmington, Delaware. The Justice Department then found more when they conducted their own search of his properties. On Wednesday, the FBI conducted a search of Biden's Rehoboth Beach home.
Head of National Archives Debra Wall defended the agency's actions in a letter to Comer last month, seemingly confirming that it was the DOJ that ordered them to refrain from speaking on the matter, reported the Washington Examiner.
"DOJ has advised it will need to consult with the newly appointed Office of Special Counsel in DOJ to assess whether information can be released without interfering with the SCO’s investigation," Wall wrote in the January 17 letter.
"Accordingly, our actions and responses with respect to both of these matters have been entirely consistent and without any political bias," she argued.
On January 18, The Washington Post reported that the DOJ and the White House colluded to keep the discovery of the first set of documents a secret until the story leaked to the press.
"Early on, Biden's attorneys and Justice Department investigators both thought they had a shared understanding about keeping the matter quiet," the outlet published.
"The White House was hoping for a speedy inquiry that would find no intentional mishandling of the documents, planning to disclose the matter only after Justice issued its all-clear. Federal investigators, for their part, typically try to avoid complicating any probe with a media feeding frenzy," they explained.
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