Washington — A top White House lawyer rejected requests from congressional Republicans to interview members of President Joe Biden's staff, his family and a former senior White House aide. The requests were part of the Republicans' inquiry into Mr. Biden's handling of classified documents and their probe of the Biden family's business activities.
The White House response was sent Friday by White House attorney Richard Sauber to the chairmen of the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees, Reps. James Comer and Jim Jordan.
Earlier this week, Comer sent requests to four current White House staff members for transcribed interviews and a subpoena to depose former White House counsel Dana Remus as part of the documents investigation. Comer previously subpoenaed President Biden's son, Hunter, and the president's brother, James, related to their finances.
House Republicans have alleged Biden family members are engaged in "influence peddling," although the investigating committees have produced no evidence so far that the president engaged in any wrongdoing. The subpoenas and interview requests are tied to efforts to substantiate the impeachment inquiry and the White House's response sets up a future battle over congressional demand to comply with subpoenas.
"If President Biden has nothing to hide, then he should make his current and former staff available to testify before Congress about his mishandling of classified documents," Comer said in a statement.
In the letter Friday, the White House accused House Republicans of being motivated by an attempt to "boost" their subpoena numbers, "rather than any legitimate investigative interest." It also accused the Republican committee chairs of engaging in "harassment of the President to score political points."
"The Committees are particularly concerned about President Biden's mishandling of classified information given the Oversight Committee's discoveries that the Biden family received millions of dollars from foreign sources for unknown services," said Comer's letter requesting interviews related to the documents matter.
"You should reconsider your current course of action and withdraw these subpoenas and demands for interviews," Sauber told Comer and Jordan. "If you do in fact have legitimate requests for information within the White House pursuant to an appropriate oversight inquiry, please contact the undersigned so that the constitutionally approved processes can be implemented."
The congressional probe into Mr. Biden's handling of classified documents is playing out alongside special counsel Robert Hur's investigation into the same matter.
Hur,by Attorney General Merrick Garland earlier this year, is investigating the potential mishandling of documents with classified markings after CBS News was first to report that sensitive government records from Mr. Biden's time as vice president at his D.C.-based think tank and Delaware home.
Multiple sources familiar with the special counsel investigation indicate the inquiry and a report by Hur to the attorney general could be finished as soon as the end of the year, although the timing remains in flux.
Hur and his small team interviewed dozens of individuals in the president's orbit, some of the sources said, and are unlikely to bring charges against Mr. Biden or those involved in the handling of the documents.
Last month, investigatorsover the course of two days, according to a White House spokesperson. Hur himself conducted the voluntary interview, multiple people familiar with the probe told CBS News. The current status of Hur's investigation was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. Hur's office declined to comment.
Mr. Biden's alleged mishandling of a what officials described as a small number of classified records is likely to culminate in a written report from the special counsel, according to sources close to the probe. Former President Donald Trump faces dozens of criminal charges in a separate special counsel probe related to hundreds of allegedly sensitive documents.
More than 300 documents with classified markings were found at his Mar-a-Lago resort and prosecutors allege that he resisted attempts to retrieve all such records and obstructed the investigation. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges related to those documents.
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