The White House counsel’s office says there are no visitors logs that track guests who come and go at President Joe Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware.
House Republicans have been demanding that the White House turn over all information related to misplaced classified documents from Biden’s time as vice president, including any visitors logs to Biden’s private residence and who might have had access to his private office in Washington, DC, where the first batch of documents were discovered in early November.
“Like every President across decades of modern history, his personal residence is personal,” the counsel’s office said in a statement Monday morning. “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.”
Anthony Guglielmi, a spokesman for the US Secret Service, said the agency also does not independently maintain visitor logs for Biden’s home in Wilmington. The agency provides security for the property, and screens visitors before they arrive to Biden’s home, but does not maintain records of those visitors. Biden and his staff determine who is permitted onto the property.
Guglielmi said the Secret Service does not independently maintain visitor logs at the Wilmington home because it is a “private residence.”
The announcement on Saturday was the third time in less than a week that the White House was forced to acknowledge a batch of classified documents from Biden’s time as vice president had been found at a personal property – first an office space in Washington, DC, and then in the Wilmington home.
CNN previously reported that the classified material found in Biden’s private office included some top secret files with the “sensitive compartmentalized information” designation, which is used for highly sensitive information obtained from intelligence sources. Those documents included US intelligence memos and briefing materials that covered topics including Ukraine, Iran and the United Kingdom, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The White House announced over the weekend that it had discovered five additional pages of classified documents at Biden’s Wilmington home on Thursday. The White House counsel’s office said it would be referring all future questions to the special counsel’s office.
In a letter addressed to White House chief of staff Ron Klain, House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, a Kentucky Republican, asked for more documents and communications related to the searches of Biden’s homes and other locations by the president’s aides for classified documents, as well as visitors logs of the president’s Wilmington home from January 20, 2021 to present.
“It is troubling that classified documents have been improperly stored at the home of President Biden for at least six years, raising questions about who may have reviewed or had access to classified information,” Comer wrote in the letter. “As Chief of Staff, you are head of the Executive Office of the President and bear responsibility to be transparent with the American people on these important issues related to the White House’s handling of this matter.”
The White House labeled the Republican investigations as “shamelessly hypocritical” compared to their approach to former President Donald Trump’s possession of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago in his post-White House years.
“House Republicans have no credibility. Their demands should be met with skepticism and they should face questions themselves about why they are politicizing this issue and admitting they actually do not care about the underlying classified material,” White House spokesman Ian Sams said.
More searches for documents possible at locations connected to Biden, sources tell CNN
Additional searches of other locations connected to Biden could be undertaken for presidential records and any classified material from his time as vice president that need to be returned to the federal government, multiple sources familiar with the matter tell CNN.
Biden’s team has searched a private office in Washington, DC, and his two Delaware homes – three locations where the White House said files may have been shipped during his 2017 transition out of office – turning up about 20 classified documents.
Sources say more searches are possible, but it’s unclear who would conduct them or where they would take place. While sources did not provide other potential locations, Biden has used other office spaces, and his family had rented another home in northern Virginia.
So far, Biden’s private attorneys and White House special counsel Richard Sauber, who has a security clearance, have handled the searches. Justice Department officials also accompanied Sauber last week to take possession of five more pages marked classified that were discovered at the Wilmington house after an initial search.
But the pace of searches by Biden’s team became a source of consternation for the US attorney’s office in Chicago that originally looked into the matter, a source close to the investigation tells CNN.
John Lausch, the US attorney there, was tapped by Attorney General Merrick Garland less than two weeks after Biden’s personal attorneys discovered the first batch of documents. Lausch did not request searches of additional locations after that discovery, according to the source, nor did he conduct his own searches or use a grand jury during his review. Instead, Biden’s lawyers decided on their own to search Biden’s Delaware homes, the source said.
When that process took several weeks, Lausch did not wait for Biden’s team to complete its search of the Delaware residences before recommending that Garland appoint a special counsel to take over the investigation. Lausch briefed the attorney general multiple times before officially recommending a special counsel on January 5. Garland appointed Robert Hur to that role last week.
Many of those details in the timeline of recent events were released by the Justice Department. Sources tell CNN that Justice officials decided to provide the information after the White House released information in dribs and drabs, creating confusion and mistrust.
While some Republicans are crying foul, saying Trump was treated differently because FBI agents searched Mar-a-Lago last August, that step followed months of Trump’s team stonewalling and failing to turn over documents sought by the National Archives.
Moreover, the Trump investigation is looking at potential obstruction, in part because after the former president’s lawyers attested that all classified documents had been returned, investigators obtained evidence indicating that wasn’t the case and surveillance video of boxes being moved from a storage room the Trump team had promised to secure.
Since then, Trump’s legal team has hired people to conduct additional searches of Trump properties, including at Trump Tower in New York and his Bedminster golf course in New Jersey.
This story has been updated with additional reporting.