House Oversight chair eyes bipartisan classified documents reform


House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) said he is hoping to pursue bipartisan legislation with ranking member Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) to address how presidential and vice presidential offices ensure they do not improperly retain classified documents after they leave office.

Comer said at a National Press Club event on Monday that he hopes to see a “bipartisan legislative fix” on the issue in response to former President Trump’s battle over keeping classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, President Biden revealing that classified documents from his time as vice president were found in a personal office and at his Delaware home, and former Vice President Mike Pence revealing that classified documents were found in his files.

“We have to reform the way that documents are boxed up when they leave the president and vice president’s office and follow them to the private sector,” Comer said.

“Jamie Raskin and I both just said that we’re going to work together in a bipartisan way to try to come up with a legislative fix, prior to this administration leaving and the next administration coming into office, on how — what role those Archives play,” Comer said. “Somebody needs to oversee all the documents that are going into boxes to make sure that they’re not classified. And if there’s a problem, then they need to iron it out before that document is put into that box and loaded onto the truck.”

“There’s no hurry on this right now,” Comer added. “This just needs to happen prior to this administration going out of office and before the next administration comes into office.”

Comer’s comments come as the House Oversight and Accountability Committee prepares for a transcribed interview with National Archives General Counsel Gary Stern on Tuesday. Comer has sought information on classified document issues relating to Biden and to Trump. Comer has also asked the National Archives for records related to Hunter Biden’s business dealings during Biden’s time as vice president.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has expressed openness to some kind of legislative reform concerning the handling of classified documents once administration officials leave office.

“We got a problem in terms of both classification levels, how senior elected officials, when they leave government, how they handle documents. We’ve had too many examples of this,” Warner said on “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “And, again, I think we’ve got the bipartisan bona fides to say, let’s put them in place on a going-forward basis, a better process.”

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