By FARNOUSH AMIRI
WASHINGTON (AP) — A former executive assistant to Joe Biden has agreed to sit for an interview with the House Oversight Committee as Republicans expand their probe into the president’s handling of classified documents.
Kathy Chung — one of the staffers who packed Biden’s belongings at the end of his term as vice president — is set to talk to the committee on April 4, the committee said. Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., chairman of the Oversight committee, requested the interview last month.
“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,” Comer said in a letter dated Feb 4.
Chung has already begun to turn over documents and communications with the Biden family dating back more than 10 years, the committee said.
A Justice Department special counsel is already investigating how classified documents from Biden’s time as vice president and senator wound up in his home and former office — and whether any mishandling involved criminal intent or was unintentional. Biden’s personal lawyers disclosed in January that a small batch of documents with classified markings had been found weeks earlier in his former Washington office, and they have since allowed FBI searches of multiple properties.
The most recent search took place in mid-February at the University of Delaware, Biden’s alma mater. In 2011, Biden gifted the school records from his time in the U.S. Senate, where he served for 36 years.
Neither the university nor the president’s attorneys have revealed if any classified documents were found at the school. Under the terms of Biden’s gift, the records are to remain sealed until two years after he retires from public life.
The discoveries that Biden, former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence were in possession of classified documents over the last year have brought new scrutiny to the rules around classified information and laid bare an uncomfortable truth: Policies meant to control the handling of the nation’s secrets are haphazardly enforced among top officials and rely almost wholly on good faith.
It’s also become increasingly common for presidents, vice presidents and even members of Congress to retain sensitive documents after leaving office, according to the the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
“The archivist told us that there were 80 members of Congress” who turned out to have classified material in their records, Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., told reporters Wednesday about a briefing he received from the National Archives. “How that happens is beyond me.”
The scheduling of Chung’s interview with House Oversight was first reported by CNN.
Associated Press reporter Nomaan Merchant contributed to this report.