By Lawrence Wilson
The National Archives told Congress on Feb. 1 that it had been ordered to suppress a statement regarding the classified documents found at the Penn Biden Center in November, according to the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability.
The revelation was made on the committee’s Twitter account, shortly after Ian Sams, senior adviser to the White House Counsel’s Office, was questioned about the matter by reporters.
“I don’t know anything about that,” Sams said in response to a question.
The committee, chaired by Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), then released this statement: “Yesterday, @USNatArchives informed us that they prepared a press statement regarding the Penn-Biden Center classified docs. However, the Archives confirmed someone suppressed the statement from going public. Only two have that authority: 1. The White House 2. DOJ.”
Members of the committee met on Feb. 1 in what Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) described as a “closed-door deposition” regarding the National Archives.
“I think the questioning was very important in terms of getting some of the facts of the issue,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “We want to make sure that there isn’t any mischaracterization by the Republican majority on the facts of this issue.”
“It certainly seems as though the Republican side had their script pre-written before any witnesses even entered that room.”
Ocasio-Cortez contrasted the differences between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump in response to the discovery of classified documents in their possession, saying Biden was very proactive in providing information.
Sams gave a similar message to reporters, mentioning that the president was “fully cooperative” or “cooperated fully” 11 times in a 10-minute interview.
The classified documents found in Biden’s former offices at the Penn Biden Center were discovered on Nov. 2, 2022, six days before the midterm election, but were not disclosed to the public until Jan. 9, 2023.
Additional discoveries were made at Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, on Dec. 20, Jan. 14, and Jan. 20.
Biden had criticized Trump for holding records with classified markings during a Sept. 18, 2022, interview on 60 Minutes.
“How that could possibly happen? How anyone could be that irresponsible … totally irresponsible,” Biden said.
Regarding the possibility or timing of additional searches, Sams declined to comment on “ongoing negotiations” between the president’s lawyers and the Department of Justice.
He confirmed that no classified documents were discovered or removed from Biden’s residence in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, during a search conducted on Feb. 1.