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There isn’t much that the White House can say about an ongoing investigation. But they have been both repeating that and occasionally pointing at their political opponents for hypocrisy.
“We understand that there’s a tension between the need to be cooperative with an ongoing DOJ investigation and rightful demands for additional public information. And so we’re trying to strike that balance and being as clear as we can,” Ian Sams, a White House spokesperson for investigations, told the press, reported by The Hill.
“It’s important to really understand the distinction here: President Biden is committed to doing the responsible thing and acting appropriately,” Sams told reporters this week, per CNBC. “His team acted promptly to disclose information to the proper authorities and is cooperating fully.”
Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, has been asked about the issue in briefings ever since the story first broke.
“What I’m concerned about is making sure that we do not politically interfere in the Department of Justice, that we continue to be consistent over the last two years. And that continues to refer you all when it comes to an ongoing process,” she said.
Department of Justice Actions
This week, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Department of Justice considered having FBI agents monitor a search of classified documents at Biden’s homes.
But they chose not to, “both to avoid complicating later stages of the investigation and because Mr. Biden’s attorneys had quickly turned over a first batch and were cooperating, according to people familiar with the matter.”
Meanwhile, Rep. James Comer, the Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, has written a letter to the National Archives, asking for documents related to the investigation of the Biden documents. According to a letter from Archivist of the United States Debra Steidel Wall, staffers for the two sides had a subsequent meeting about the request, in which they stated that the Department of Justice needed to consult with the Office of Special Counsel over whether they could release the information.
“NARA expects to get those records to DOJ within the next few days, and we have asked that they expedite their review so that we can respond to you as close to your January 24 due date as possible,” the letter from the archivist said. “DOJ is committed to working with NARA to facilitate your discussions with the Committee. However, DOJ was not able to provide us with a specific date by which they will complete their review because they have not yet received the materials and because the SCO was only established on January 12.”
Bothsidism At Play With Classified Documents
The White House has also accused Republicans of hypocrisy for their handling of the Biden documents, as opposed to the Trump situation.
“The president and his team have been fully cooperating, acting responsibly, and ensuring that this is handled properly,” Sams told reporters. “You’ve seen something far different emerging among elected Republicans. What are they doing? They’ve decided that it’s time for more political stunts and theater.”
The White House also pointed out other differences: The Trump probe concerns a great deal more documents than the Biden case, Biden has cooperated with authorities to a much greater degree than Trump, and Trump had his documents at the Mar-a-Lago estate, where parties with hundreds of guests are currently held – something that has not traditionally been the case with Biden’s former office or garage, the latter of which is known to have been kept locked.
Indeed, the Oversight Committee is not investigating the Trump documents, while it has asked for information about Biden’s. But unlike with most Congressional investigations, there are already Special Counsel probes taking place in both cases.
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.