As House GOP secures first cooperation in Biden probe, pressure grows for damage assessment
Former FBI intel chief, House intelligence committee member latest to seek a national security assessment.
As House Republicans secure the first government cooperation for their probe of President Joe Biden's handling of classified documents, pressure is building in national security circles to conduct a damage assessment that could determine if the storage of national secrets at insecure locations aided foreign powers.
On Thursday, two prominent figures — a new member of the House Intelligence Committee and the FBI's former intelligence chief — became the latest to add their voices to calls for a national security assessment of the five tranches of documents found at Biden's Wilmington, Del., home and his old think tank office in Washington D.C. since November.
"It's not just a good idea. It's an imperative. It has to be done," retired FBI Assistant Director for Intelligence Kevin Brock told the "Just the News, Not Noise" television show. "Americans are disturbed enough at what seems to be the careless handling of classified documents by people most senior in our government."
Brock said the argument for a national security investigation of the Biden documents is stronger than what his old agency used to open the Russia collusion probe against Donald Trump back in 2016. "Just based on what's publicly known, there's probably more predication that exists today to launch an investigation along these lines than there ever was to launch the Crossfire Hurricane investigation," he said.
Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.), one of the newest members of House Intelligence, said Thursday he too supports a damage assessment because the documents were kept in an insecure location that could be accessed, including by Hunter Biden as he pursued foreign business deals.
"The difference I see is that Biden documents were in an area where other people clearly had access to them," Scott told the John Solomon Reports podcast.
The congressman said his concerns are compounded by the "amount of wealth that the Biden family has" accumulated while Joe Biden lived mostly on a public servant's salary over five decades and while his son Hunter Biden chased foreign business deals in countries like Russia, Ukraine and China.
"I don't see how you accumulate the type of wealth that he has at those income levels," he added.
Meanwhile, House Republicans on Thursday secured their first cooperation from the National Archives to gain information about Biden's classified documents, ending a stalemate over a growing scandal that has rocked Washington and led to a request for all living former presidents and vice presidents to search their own possessions for any missing national secrets.
House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) told Just the News that his committee will be interviewing the National Archives' top lawyer, Gary Stern, next Tuesday to get the first answers about what documents were found, where they were located and who may have had access to them.
"They have finally agreed to come in and sit down for a transcribed interview," Comer said on the "Just the News, No Noise" television show on Real America's Voice. "So we will be able to have a formal interview. We're going to ask them all the questions that everyone in America wants answered. And hopefully they'll provide those answers."
Comer had gotten a cool response from the White House and Justice Department in his initial requests for information, a stark contrast to last fall when the Biden administration routinely leaked details about a similar controversy involving documents found at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate during an FBI raid.
News of the first cooperation from the Archives with Majority Republicans in the House came the same day the nation's historical preservation agency called on former U.S. presidents and vice presidents from the last six administrations to recheck any personal presidential records they have for the presence of any classified or otherwise relevant materials.
Comer said his committee will query Stern on the documents found in Trump's, Biden's and former Vice President Mike Pence's possession over the last six months and "why was there such a difference in how the Trump document case was handled versus how the Biden case was handled."
"We want to know who had access to those documents," the chairman added. "We're going to remind them that we have a very serious Biden family influence peddling investigation going on. And we're very concerned about not only who had access to those documents, but whether or not those documents ended up in the hands of our adversaries around the world, especially those who were involved in some of the Biden influence peddling scheme."
Comer also confirmed his committee is seeking to interview the California art dealer who sold some of Hunter Biden's recent art pieces to determine if any foreign powers were using the purchases as an avenue of additional influence with the first family.
"We need to know who's buying this artwork," he said. "And I'm willing to sign a confidentiality agreement. You know, I need to know about this art, because there's a pattern here of our adversaries, especially in China, sending money to Biden interests, whether it be some of Hunter's or [his uncle] Jim Biden's shady business dealings, whether it be to the University of Pennsylvania to fund the Biden center for diplomacy, or reportedly to purchase some of Biden's artwork at very high prices.
"We're concerned that there's a pattern of corruption here with respect to the CCP that may be compromising this White House."
That overlay of insecure classified documents with influence peddling concerns is driving some to push for the damage assessment.
Brock said any FBI assessment would focus on a few key questions.
"There's two parts of this of interest from a counterintelligence standpoint," he said. "First of all, it's the mishandling of the document itself. Why was it mishandled? And what made them think that they should take these documents home? And then secondly, what what was in those documents?
"This is very important from a counterintelligence standpoint, drawing a correlation between why those documents were chosen to be removed from classified environments and taken home. And then assessing what was in those documents, particularly in light of the fact that in President Biden's case, they were in a private residence, where other people had direct access. Now, obviously, the Republicans are very interested in the fact that that his son, Hunter Biden, had theoretical access to these documents.
"And they're gonna want to know whether or not there's a correlation between what's in the documents and what was used by Hunter Biden to gain business. And if there is a correlation, if it can be shown that there was that kind of fallout from having these classified documents available in the house, then that has a distinct counterintelligence interest to the government to make sure that those in the highest reaches of our government are not compromised by all of this."