Ranking Member Raskin Releases New Evidence Undermining Republican Claims of Disparate Treatment on Records Investigations
Washington, D.C. (March 7, 2023)—Today, Rep. Jamie Raskin, Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Accountability, released a staff memo to Democratic Members providing key information on the Committee’s investigation into the mishandling of presidential and classified records. Ranking Member Raskin also called on Chairman James Comer to release the full transcript of the voluntary transcribed interview with National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) General Counsel, Gary M. Stern, after Republicans Members made inaccurate claims about NARA’s handling of presidential and classified records:
“Committee Republicans continue to make unfounded accusations of disparate treatment by the National Archives and the Department of Justice in their efforts to preserve presidential records and secure classified records. Today, Committee Democrats are releasing a previously undisclosed letter received last Congress from the Justice Department demonstrating the agency’s longstanding policy to not disclose information that could interfere with the integrity of ongoing investigations. Committee Republicans have failed to identify any evidence to support their irresponsible claims that the National Archives and the Department of Justice are politically biased and have been uncooperative with their investigation. I’m calling on Chairman Comer to release the full, complete and unedited transcribed interview with Mr. Stern, so that the American public can evaluate the facts free from partisan spin.”
Ranking Member Raskin released this staff memo after Chairman Comer issued a letter to the White House based on the misleading claim that the Biden Administration improperly suppressed information about the discovery of classified documents at Penn Biden Center—a claim that is clearly contradicted by Mr. Stern’s transcript.
Republicans have also falsely claimed that, in the 117th Congress, the National Archives produced documents to Committee Democrats related to the recovery of presidential and classified records from Mar-a-Lago despite evidence to the contrary.
Ranking Member Raskin also released a previously undisclosed letter sent during the 117th Congress from the Department of Justice to then-Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney, copying then-Ranking Member Comer. The letter reveals that the Department of Justice requested the National Archives not to “share or otherwise disclose” information to the Committee “in order to protect the integrity of our ongoing work.” The Justice Department’s request was consistent with its longstanding policy, across administrations of both parties, to comply with congressional requests for information and also protect the disclosure of confidential information that “might compromise open criminal investigations or prosecutions.” The Justice Department recently cited the same policy in response to Committee Republicans’ request for documents and information on the recovery of records from President Biden.
During his transcribed interview, Mr. Stern explained that the Archives began identifying responsive documents within a week of receiving Chairman Comer’s letter, and that the National Archives provided those documents to the Justice Department for review before the requested deadline. Mr. Stern confirmed that the National Archives is committed to producing documents responsive to the Committee Republicans’ requests while taking care not to interfere with the Justice Department’s ongoing investigations.
Committee Democrats have urged Republicans to conduct responsible and credible oversight of the mishandling of presidential and classified records by investigating all relevant facts and using those findings to inform bipartisan commonsense legislative solutions to strengthen the Presidential Records Act. Last month, Chairman Comer failed to respond to Ranking Member Raskin’s request to join him on a letter to the U.S. Secret Service requesting visitor information for President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club and former Vice President Pence’s private residence. Former President Trump kept thousands of records at Mar-a-Lago and repeatedly refused to turn them over to the federal government. Classified records were also recovered from former Vice President Pence’s private residence.
Click here for Committee Democrats’ staff memo.
Click here for the April 2022 letter from the Department of Justice to then Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney.