The White House and the Secret Service said Monday they do not maintain visitor logs for President Joe Biden’s personal home in Wilmington, Delaware, a day after a top House Republican called for their release.
“Like every President across decades of modern history, his personal residence is personal,” White House counsel’s office spokesman Ian Sams said in a statement. “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.”
House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., sent a letter Sunday asking White House chief of staff Ron Klain for the visitor logs as the Justice Department and House Republicans investigate Biden’s handling of classified documents from his time as vice president in the Obama administration. The White House acknowledged Saturday that more pages with classified markings were discovered at Biden's Delaware home than had been previously disclosed.
In his letter to Klain, Comer said: “Given the serious national security implications, the White House must provide the Wilmington residence’s visitor log.”
Secret Service spokesman Anthony Guglielmi echoed the White House: “We don’t independently maintain our own visitor logs because it’s a private residence.” He added that the Secret Service does perform background checks on those who come in contact with the Bidens at their homes in Wilmington and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, but that it retains such documents for only a limited time.
Guglielmi said the agency would cooperate with any congressional request for information.
On Saturday, the White House said additional pages marked classified from the Obama administration had been found at Biden’s Wilmington residence, in addition to the two batches that were disclosed earlier in the week. Those documents were found in a Washington, D.C., office he previously used, the garage at his Wilmington residence and a room adjacent to the garage. The slow trickle has fueled the president’s critics while concerning allies that the issue was not being promptly addressed.
Biden is frustrated with the backlash he has faced and does not feel the response to the news has been handled well, said three sources familiar with the matter.
Attorney General Merrick Garland last week appointed a special counsel, Robert Hur, to oversee the investigation. The House Judiciary Committee, now led by Jim Jordan of Ohio in the new GOP-majority House, also announced Friday that it had opened an investigation.
Hur's appointment means both Biden and former President Donald Trump face special counsel investigations over their handling of classified materials after having left office. Guglielmi said Monday that the Trump Organization does track comings and goings at Trump Tower in New York City and Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, which the Secret Service has access to.
Biden’s allies have argued his case differs drastically from the one surrounding Trump — chiefly on the grounds that Biden returned documents once they were discovered, while Trump did not fully comply with a subpoena and withheld some documents, which led authorities to execute a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago in August.
“I mean, it’s totally different right now,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said Sunday on NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” adding that Biden, unlike Trump, “isn’t saying that somehow magically when he thinks about classified documents that he can declassify them.”
“They’re not going to defy subpoenas or require FBI raids to be able to get the documents,” she added.
In an interview Sunday on with CNN’s “State of the Union,” Comer was pressed about why his committee was focused on Biden’s documents but not on Trump’s.
“I don’t feel like we need to spend a whole lot of time investigating President Trump, because the Democrats have done that for the past six years,” said Comer, who wrote to the White House on Friday asking whether Biden’s son Hunter Biden could have accessed classified materials at the president’s residence.
Comer told Fox News on Monday that he questioned whether the Secret Service has any records of the comings and goings at Biden's residence.
"You would assume that the Secret Service would vet people that would be allowed on the premise of the dwelling for the president of the United States," he said. "So, you know, there's other areas that we're going to look" at.
The White House issued an additional statement later Monday, saying 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," Sams said, adding, "President Biden is doing the right thing and is cooperating fully with a thorough review, but House Republicans are playing politics in a shamelessly hypocritical attempt to attack President Biden."