OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Republicans have been demanding answers on the lack of transparency on visitor logs from President Joe Biden’s Delaware home — and the response they just got won’t make things better moving forward.
The U.S. Secret Service is reportedly refusing to hand over emails identifying visitors to Biden’s homes in Delaware as a Freedom of Information Act request was filed.
“Please be advised that emails reflecting visitors to President Biden’s residences in Wilmington, Delaware, and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware are not agency records subject to the FOIA. See Doyle v. U.S. Dep’t of Homeland Sec., 959 F.3d 72 (2d Cir. 2020) (finding that emails regarding expected visitors to the sitting President’s residence were not agency records subject to the FOIA.),” the officer said in a letter.
The NY Post noted that it had filed its own FOIA request and that the Secret Service claimed last year that “no records were located” of Biden’s Delaware visitors.
“A Secret Service FOIA officer cited a federal appeals court ruling in New York regarding visitor information for former President Donald Trump’s residences, even though the ruling doesn’t bind the actions of officials in Delaware or in DC,” the New York Post reported.
Earlier this year, the Secret Service said it was “gathering” information about who visited Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware amid a scandal involving the president’s potentially illegal possession of classified documents.
The Washington Examiner reported the demand includes information on “all individuals” who visited the residence as well as other places where Biden stashed classified documents, including a private office he used at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C.
The outlet noted further:
Sens. Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson wrote to the Secret Service on Monday in a letter first obtained by the Washington Examiner and requested the visitor logs. Now, the Secret Service said it is evaluating that letter and is “currently in the process of gathering” various information, as well as “working through appropriate channels” to locate what “may be responsive to Congressional inquiries.”
“We are in receipt of Senator Grassley’s letter and it is currently being reviewed,” Anthony Guglielmi, a spokesman for the Secret Service, told the outlet, which reported that he also said the USSS does not maintain “formal and comprehensive visitor logs for protected residences.”
“What I mean by that is there is not a system of validated visitor logs as you find at the White House or other government facilities that fall under the Presidential Records Act,” he noted further in a Wednesday email to the outlet.
Guglielmi did say, though, that the agency keeps some records on certain visitors like particular “contractors” or “workers.” In addition, the Secret Service collects information about the “law enforcement and criminal justice” histories of people who visit protected sites.
At the Wilmington location, classified documents were found stored haphazardly in Biden’s garage where he stores his vintage Chevrolet Corvette.
“I hope the Secret Service will be transparent and cooperative as Sen. Grassley and I investigate Joe Biden’s mishandling of our nation’s top secrets,” Johnson said on Monday.
After initially denying it, the Secret Service said it had some records regarding who visited Biden’s Delaware residence.
Following an initial report that the documents were discovered, congressional Republicans demanded to see visitor logs from the Biden residence but were told by the agency that because it is a private home, no official visitor logs were kept.
As reported by the New York Post, Guglielmi claimed Monday that “we don’t independently maintain our own visitor logs because it’s a private residence.”
“The Secret Service doesn’t maintain visitor logs at the private residences of protectees. The visitor logs that are kept at government buildings are part of the National Archives and Records Administration, and while we have access to those, we are not the custodian of those records and logs,” he added, according to The New York Times.
“While the White House has not kept a formal list, the Secret Service does collect information on guests with regular access to the home. Retention of the names of those vetted by the Secret Service depends on a variety of factors, including proximity to the president and the nature of the background check,” said Fox News.