No visitor logs exist for Biden's private home, where classified documents found, White House says

House Republicans had demanded visitor records from his Wilmington residence.

January 16, 2023, 12:56 PM

After House Republicans demanded the White House turn over a log of visitors from President Joe Biden's home in Wilmington, Delaware, where classified documents have been discovered, the White House said Sunday that such a record does not exist.

"Consistent with past precedent of every President across decades of modern history, his personal residence is personal," a White House counsel's office spokesperson said in a statement. "But upon taking office, President Biden restored the norm and tradition of keeping White House visitors logs, including publishing them regularly, after the previous administration ended them."

U.S. Secret Service spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told ABC News that they also do not maintain visitor logs of private residences, though the Secret Service does provide security screenings for visitors.

The agency has access to the visitor logs of official government buildings such as the White House and the vice president's residence, Guglielmi said. Those visitor logs are kept by the National Archives.

In a letter to White House chief of staff Ron Klain on Sunday, Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., the new House Oversight Committee chairman, requested visitors logs at the Wilmington residence dating from Biden's inauguration to the present, with a deadline of Jan. 30.

The committee is also seeking all documents related to the search of Biden's homes "and other locations by Biden aides for classified documents," Comer wrote.

"President Biden's mishandling of classified materials raises the issue of whether he has jeopardized our national security," Comer wrote. "Without a list of individuals who have visited his residence, the American people will never know who had access to these highly sensitive documents."

PHOTO: Rep. James Comer stands to nominate Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., for a 13th round of voting in the House chamber as the House meets for the fourth day to elect a speaker and convene the 118th Congress in Washington, Jan. 6, 2023.
Rep. James Comer stands to nominate Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., for a 13th round of voting in the House chamber as the House meets for the fourth day to elect a speaker and convene the 118th Congress in Washington, Jan. 6, 2023.
Alex Brandon/AP

White House spokesman Ian Sams initially acknowledged the letter to ABC News but did not directly say if the administration would comply.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has declined to substantively answer questions on the matter, referring nearly all inquiries on the classified documents to the White House counsel's office and the Justice Department, which is investigating.

Biden's attorneys have said that classified documents from Biden's time as vice president were found at a former office in Washington, D.C., as well as at his home in Wilmington.

A lawyer for him said last week: "We are confident that a thorough review will show that these documents were inadvertently misplaced, and the President and his lawyers acted promptly upon discovery of this mistake." 

Biden's attorneys have also stressed that he is cooperating and returned the documents after they were found.

Comer last week also asked the National Archives to provide all communications between the agency, the White House and the Justice Department regarding the classified documents discovered at Biden's office at the Penn Biden Center. ABC News has asked the National Archives if it plans to comply with the request from the Oversight Committee.

Comer's letters to the White House and the National Archives were not accompanied by subpoenas.

Biden returned to Washington from Delaware on Monday and ignored further questions on the documents and the investigation. Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday said he was appointing Robert Hur as special counsel to investigate Biden's handling of the classified materials.

Over the weekend, White House special counsel Richard Sauber said that five more classified pages -- in addition to a one-page document discovered on Wednesday -- were found on Thursday in Wilmington and are now in the Justice Department's possession.

PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden arrives at the White House in Washington, Jan. 16, 2023.
U.S. President Joe Biden arrives at the White House in Washington, Jan. 16, 2023.
Julia Nikhinson/Reuters

Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the No. 3 Democrat in the chamber, called the controversy "certainly embarrassing."

"It's embarrassing that you would find a small number of documents, certainly not on purpose. They don't think it's the right thing and they've been moving to correct it, working with the Department of Justice, working with everyone involved, with the archives. And so from my perspective, you know, it's one of those moments that obviously they wish hadn't happened," she said on Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"But what I'm most concerned about," Stabenow added, "this is the kind of thing that the Republicans love."

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said last week that he sees Congress having a role in investigating the matter, separate from the Justice Department.

ABC News' Justin Gomez contributed to this report.

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