Republican investigators are seeking “unrestricted special access” to President Biden’s vice presidential records to obtain any information about potential contact during that period with Hunter Biden, and other family members and their business partners.
In a letter this week to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), House Oversight Chairman James Comer requested “additional information regarding communications between the Office of the Vice President and Hunter Biden or his business associates.” And he also said the committee “needs to review these documents in their original format.”
Comer highlights records that were recently posted to the Archives’ website with sections redacted under the Presidential Records Act and the Freedom of information Act.
As one example, the GOP letter cites email traffic from December 2015 between a longtime Biden family business associate and a senior White House communications official.
“[O]n December 4, 2015, at 10:45 a.m.—in an email with the subject of “Quotes”—Eric Schwerin (a longtime Biden family business associate) wrote to Kate Bedingfield in the Office of the Vice President providing quotes the White House should use in response to media outreach regarding Hunter Biden’s role in Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company. Later that day—at 2:30 p.m.—Ms. Bedingfield responded to Mr. Schwerin saying, “VP signed off on this[.]”
In response, White House spokesman Ian Sams posted on social media, “As Comer tells it, then-VP Biden ‘colluded’ with this business (Burisma) by … saying he doesn’t endorse it and wasn’t involved with it? Total nonsense.” And he included a screen shot of what he said Mr. Biden had “signed off on,” highlighting a part that read, “The Vice President does not endorse any particular company and has no involvement with this company.”
A spokeswoman for Democrats on the committee dismissed the Republicans’ request as more “Burisma conspiracy 2.0.” Comer noted that NARA has already told the committee that it would neither produce nor confirm the existence of records “if NARA deems those records to be ‘personal records.'”
Claiming that the committee’s need for the records is “specific and well-documented,” Comer said the committee has been clear that their probe involves “potential abuse by then-Vice President Biden of his official duties…” and if NARA continues to withhold records that potentially respond to this probe, the Archive should provide a log including the sender, recipient and NARA’s explanation for withholding the records.
“Joe Biden never built an ‘absolute wall’ between his family’s business dealings and his official government work – his office doors were wide open to Hunter Biden’s associates,” the House Oversight chairman said in a statement.
In a response to CBS News, a spokesperson for the National Archives said, “NARA has received the request from Chairman Comer, and will respond in accordance with the Presidential Records Act (PRA), NARA’s implementing regulations, and the governing Executive Order.”
The committee’s Democrats say “House Republicans are hiding from the fact that after years of probes and conspiracy theories they have no evidence of wrongdoing by President Biden,” according to a statement by their spokeswoman.
She also said that a former business partner of Hunter Biden, Devon Archer, “repeatedly told the Committee that President Biden was never involved in his son’s business dealings.” And she also pointed to testimony by another former business associate of Hunter Biden, Eric Schwerin, who told committee staff he wasn’t aware of any involvement by Mr. Biden “in the financial conduct of the President’s relatives’ businesses.”
CBS News has reached out to Hunter Biden’s lawyers, but they did not immediately respond.
Ellis Kim contributed to this report.