The National Archives told congressional Republicans it will only share information related to the discovery of classified information in President Joe Biden’s former think tank office and residence after consulting with the Justice Department to ensure it does not interfere with the criminal probe.
In a new letter to House Oversight Chairman James Comer, acting Archivist Debra Steidel Wall wrote that while the Archives is committed to cooperating with the committee requests for documents and archives, it is deferring to federal investigators.
“DOJ has advised it will need to consult with the newly appointed Office of Special Counsel (SCO) in DOJ, to assess whether information can be released without interfering with the SCO’s investigation,” Wall wrote in the letter sent Tuesday night.
The archivist also pushed back against GOP criticism that the Archives was treating Biden differently than former President Donald Trump. Wall said that the Archives did not publicly disclose its discussions with Trump about classified documents for nine months, until the matter was publicly reported in the press.
“Our action and responses with respect to both of these matters have been entirely consistent and without any political bias,” Wall wrote.
Until November, Wall wrote the Archives was unaware there were documents missing from Biden’s vice presidential records.
“NARA receives only the Presidential and Vice Presidential records that the departing administration provides us; we are never able to know whether we have ‘all’ such records,” the archivist wrote.
Comer had set a Tuesday deadline for the Archives to respond to his request to schedule interviews as part of his panel’s investigation into the Biden classified documents.
In an interview Tuesday before the letter was sent, the Kentucky Republican was critical of the Archives. “There’s been no transparency with National Archives,” Comer said on Fox Business, adding, “Every day that goes by that the National Archives go without giving me and Ranking Member (Jamie) Raskin a briefing is another day that they’re going to be higher up on our list of suspects in this.”
In her letter, Wall noted that Archives officials had already met on January 13 with the committee to discuss its requests. She said that the Archives was going through its own documents, but she asked to postpone any interviews with Archives officials until DOJ completes its review of the documents.
“Our desire to provide you with as much information as we can, however, must also be balanced with the need to protect Executive branch equities, particularly as they relate to ongoing criminal law enforcement investigations by DOJ,” the archivist wrote.