Oversight chair issues sweeping document demands to Biden 'gatekeeper' in secret records probe

Investigative panel zeroes in on former Biden executive assistant Kathy Chung, citing timing of employment and her full-spectrum access to materials in question.

Updated: February 9, 2023 - 11:19pm

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House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) has issued a detailed request to a former Joe Biden "gatekeeper" for documents and communications from her time working at the Penn-Biden center, specifically anything related to her involvement in the handling and removal of "highly classified" materials. 

The Penn-Biden Center has been in the glare of public scrutiny since the revelation that classified documents from Biden's vice presidency — including top secret items and intelligence on Ukraine and Iran — were found last November in Biden's old office at the University of Pennsylvania-affiliated foreign policy think tank, where he worked in D.C. from 2017 to 2019.

The University of Pennsylvania collected tens of millions of dollars from China while paying Biden and hosting his think tank.

"The Committee on Oversight and Accountability is investigating President Biden's possession of highly classified documents from his time as Vice President," Comer wrote to Kathy Chung in a Feb. 4 letter. "The documents retrieved from President Biden's personal office and home included documents designated as 'sensitive compartmented information' ... which is used for highly sensitive information obtained from intelligence sources. The Committee has obtained evidence showing that you had keycard access to Penn Biden Center. Recent reporting indicates in January 2017 you — while serving as then-Vice President Biden's executive assistant — helped pack up the departing Vice President's office.

"Documents on file with the committee reveal that President Biden's son — Robert Hunter Biden — initially proposed a job in Vice President Biden's office to you in May 2012. Hunter described your potential responsibilities as replacing the 'primary gatekeeper for the VP' and 'conduit everyone goes through to get to [Vice President Biden].' Additionally, Hunter explained that you would replace the person who 'handles all personal stuff' for Vice President Biden. 

"You served on the Vice President's staff from July 2012 until he left office. The Committee believes your proximity to Vice President Biden and role as handler of his personal matters gave you access not only to classified material he maintained after leaving the White House, but also to the Biden family's business schemes.

"Please provide the following documents and information as soon as possible, but no later than February 20, 2023:

  1. All communications with members of the Biden family and Eric Schwerin from January 20, 2009, to present;

  2. All documents and communications related to then-Vice President Biden's departure from office in 2017, including communications regarding Penn Biden Center;

  3. All documents and communications between you and President Biden's personal attorneys related to the Presidential Record Act documents and classified materials found at Penn Biden Center or President Biden's Wilmington, Delaware residence;

  4. All documents and communications between you and White House employees or Department of Justice employees related to the Presidential Record Act documents and classified materials found at Penn Biden Center or President Biden's Wilmington, Delaware residence; and

  5. All documents and communications between you and the National Archives and Records Administration related to the Presidential Record Act documents and classified materials found at Penn Biden Center or President Biden's Wilmington, Delaware residence.

"The Committee has provided instructions regarding how these materials should be produced and defined certain terms in the accompanying attachment. Additionally, we request you make yourself available for a transcribed interview with Committee staff. Please coordinate with Committee staff to schedule this interview no later than February 27, 2023." 

Reports compiled by the conservative watchdog group National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) from disclosures to the Department of Education showed that the University of Pennsylvania collected more than $67.6 million in donations and contracts from China between 2013 and 2019. The vast majority of that money, $47.7 million, flowed during the three years Biden was employed by the university, the records show.

Penn paid Biden handsomely to serve as an honorary professor who did not teach classes and made only occasional appearances or lectures. Biden's tax returns reviewed by Just the News show Penn paid the future president $911,644 between spring 2017 and spring 2019, when he stepped aside to run for president.

Biden-2017-Amended-Federal.pdf

Biden-2018-Amended-Federal.pdf

BidenEthicsForm2019Income.pdf

The Chinese money poured into Penn most rapidly in the four months after Biden opened the center in February 2018, a period during which nearly $20 million came through, including a $14.5 million anonymous gift on May 28, 2018, according to a complaint the NLPC filed with the Department of Education in May of 2020. 

The NLPC complaint requested that the department investigate all the Chinese gifts to Penn and the Penn Biden Center, alleging that the gifts listed as anonymous were "in clear violation" of the Higher Education Act's requirement that "all gifts or contracts exceeding $250,000 must disclose the foreign ownership and control of the gift or contract."

"The University of Pennsylvania and the Penn Biden Center are particularly vulnerable to China government influences due to the large amounts of China donations and contracts," the NLPC alleged in the complaint.

The NLPC has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking "all documents, including but not limited to emails, text messages, communications, memoranda, and photographs, that refer to the discovery and handling of classified and other presidential records that were in a closet at the Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement." 

"They do get money from China, either directly or indirectly," NLPC counsel Paul Kamenar told Just the News.

"It's a fact that UPenn has received some $60 million in Chinese donations, $22 million of which is anonymous," he said. "The actual donors should be disclosed. Not simply that it's 'from China.'" The watchdog group filed a complaint with the DOJ in October 2020 urging that the center be investigated for failure to register as "foreign agents" under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

The university has denied any wrongdoing.

Penn has been very "opaque" when confronted with these discrepancies, and "it doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to realize the money from China to the school is not going to Pennsylvania's music department," said Kamenar. "It's going to UPenn's international program, of which the Biden Center is one of the top beneficiaries."

Kamenar has also raised several other questions and concerns, including how the classified documents in question ended up in the Biden Center in the first place when it didn't even open its doors until two years after the former vice president had left office. 

The university has said it did not solicit any donations specifically to fund the Penn-Biden Center, funding it out of its operating budget.

You can follow Nick on Twitter @NGIvasDC

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