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House Oversight Committee to investigate Biden documents marked classified

House panel to probe Biden documents
House committee to probe Biden documents marked classified 03:11

The Republican-led House Committee on Oversight and Accountability has launched an investigation into the documents marked classified that were found at a private office once used by President Joe Biden. CBS News has learned those documents were marked with varying levels of classification including some that were designated highly classified.

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FILE: Committee Ranking Member James Comer (R-KY) speaks during a House Oversight Committee hearing at the Rayburn House Office Building on December 14, 2022 in Washington, DC.  / Getty Images

In a letter to Stuart Delery, the White House counsel, Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, of Kentucky, wrote the committee "is concerned that President Biden has compromised (intelligence) sources and methods with his own mishandling of classified documents." 

Comer asks the White House to turn over all documents and communications related to the classified material found in Mr. Biden's personal office — including the classified documents themselves — by Jan. 24. The documents were given to the National Archives on Nov. 3, according to a White House statement. They are believed to be held in a secure facility in Washington.

He is also requesting a list of people who had access to the office space and any communication related to the documents among the White House, National Archives and Department of Justice.

The request did not include a subpoena.

GOP Rep. James Comer on Biden documents: "It appears that it's another cover-up" 07:57

Comer told CBS News Tuesday evening that "it appears that it's another cover-up. And we just have a lot of questions with respect to how Biden's been treated verses how Donald Trump was treated."

"We simply want to know the same things we asked when Mar-a-Lago was raided," Comer said. "Who has which documents? What level of classification are we talking about here? How many documents? And what was the process involved with making the decision to raid Mar-a-Lago, versus the decision to apparently do nothing with President Biden?"

The House investigation comes about 24 hours after CBS News first reported the Department of Justice was reviewing roughly 10 documents marked classified that were found at the Penn Biden Center, a think tank in Washington, D.C., where Mr. Biden worked between 2017 and 2019. The documents stem from Mr. Biden's tenure as vice president, two sources said.

The documents were found in a locked closet by personal attorneys for Mr. Biden who were cleaning out the space on Nov. 2, according to a statement by White House lawyer Richard Sauber. The lawyers stopped their work and informed the White House counsel of the discovery. 

The White House counsel then informed the National Archives, the federal agency responsible for securing and preserving presidential and vice presidential papers. The Archives referred the matter to the Justice Department.

Attorney General Merrick Garland assigned John Lausch, Jr., the U.S. attorney based in Chicago, to review the classified materials and investigate how they ended up at the president's private office. The FBI is assisting in the review, which is expected to wrap up soon. 

A source familiar with the investigation told CBS News Justice Department officials are exploring whether there are additional classified documents in other locations. 

Comer sent a second letter to the National Archives Tuesday saying his committee would also probe "whether there is a political bias" at the agency. He alleges "inconsistent treatment of recovering classified records held by former President Trump and President Biden." The letter also requests agency documents and communications within 14 days and testimony from senior Archives officials by Jan. 17.

In August, the FBI executed a search warrant at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate that yielded more than 100 documents marked classified. That seizure came after a year of resistance by Trump and his representatives to federal efforts to recoup documents from the Trump administration. In all, more than 300 documents with classified markings have been recovered from Mar-a-Lago.

A special counsel is investigating Trump's handling of the classified material.

Comer's interest in the Biden documents stands in contrast to his reaction to the Trump records. In late November, Comer told CNN that investigating the Trump documents would "not be a priority." He said, "I don't get involved in a lot of the drama from the last administration."

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