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Archives threatening to withhold some evidence in Biden probe as 'personal,' Comer reveals

The Bidens have always maintained they did not coordinate, mix or discuss personal and government business activities, but evidence in the Archives conflicts with that claim.

Published: September 6, 2023 10:01am

House Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer pressed Wednesday for deeper access to records in the Biden family probe held by the National Archives, while pointedly warning that America's historical agency is threatening to withhold some evidence as "personal."

Comer made the revelation in a letter to Archivist Colleen Shogan that requested unrestricted access to a collection of memos the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has released in redacted form titled “Records on Hunter Biden, James Biden, and Their Foreign Business Dealings" under the Presidential Records Act (PRA).

Comer noted the collection includes correspondence in which Hunter Biden business partner Eric Schwerin was directly coordinating media messaging with Vice President Joe Biden's office concerning Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company deemed corrupt by the State Department that paid Biden's son millions to serve on its board. Just the News reported on that specific memo earlier this year when the group America First Legal forced disclosure of the collection.

You can read that letter here.

The Bidens have always maintained they did not coordinate, mix or discuss personal and government business activities, a claim directly contradicted by evidence Comer has unearthed.

"The timing of this email traffic is concerning to the Committee. According to Devon Archer (another longtime Biden family business associate), after a Burisma board of directors meeting in Dubai – on the evening of December 4, 2015 Hunter Biden 'called D.C.' to discuss pressure that Burisma asked him to relieve," Comer wrote. "The Committee seeks additional information regarding communications between the Office of the Vice President and Hunter Biden or his business associates."

As part of the letter, Comer revealed a behind-the-scenes dispute playing out between his investigators and the Archives,

"In discussions between NARA and Committee staff regarding the Committee’s previous request for special access to Vice-Presidential records, NARA informed the Committee that certain documents in NARA’s custody would not be produced to the Committee – and, indeed, NARA would not inform the Committee of their existence – if NARA deems those records to be 'personal records' as defined by the PRA," the powerful House committee chairman wrote.

"However, 'personal records' are defined as those records 'which do not relate to or have an effect upon the carrying out of the constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties of' the Vice President. The Committee has made clear that its investigation involves potential abuse by then-Vice President Biden of his official duties; It cannot be NARA that determines whether certain records 'do not relate to or have an effect upon” those duties," he added.

Comer demanded the Archives produce a log identifying any records it is withholding from Congress and the state reason, a typical first step that Congress make it if plan to sue to force disclosure of evidence.

"This log should state the length of the document withheld, its sender(s) and recipient(s), the time and date the document was transmitted, and the justification for NARA’s determination to withhold the document." Comer wrote.

In addition to access to the specific records collection containing the Schwerin email, Comer's letter also demands the Archives produce:

  • All documents and communications to or from the Executive Office of the President (including but not limited to the Office of the Vice President) to, from, copying or regarding Schwerin, Archer, Vuk Jeremic, John Robinson “Rob” Walker, or Jeffrey Cooper;
  • All documents and communications to or from Kate Bedingfield, Michael Carpenter, Kathy Chung, Amos Hochstein, Colin Kahl and Alexander Mackler to, from, copying or regarding Hunter Biden or James Biden; 
  • All executive calendars created for then-Vice President Joe Biden dating from January 20, 2009 to January 20, 2017.