Republicans who are demanding to see visitor logs from President Joe Biden’s Wilmington, Delaware home will be disappointed to learn that no such logs exist because none have ever been kept.
On Sunday, House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer sent a letter to White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain asking for the White House to turn over records of who has visited the Wilmington residence where Mr Biden has spent most weekends since taking office in January 2021.
Mr Comer’s demand came just hours after the White House revealed that an additional five pages with classification markings had been identified by Special Counsel to the President Richard Sauber when he travelled to Mr Biden’s residence to take possession of a single page with similar markings that had been found earlier.
“Given the serious national security implications, the White House must provide the Wilmington residence’s visitor log,” Mr Comer wrote. “As Chief of Staff, you are head of the Executive Office of the President and bear responsibility to be transparent with the American people on these important issues related to the White House’s handling of this matter.”
Mr Comer added that Americans would “never know who had access to these highly sensitive documents” absent “a list of individuals who have visited his residence”.
“The Committee demands transparency into whether any individuals with foreign connections to the Biden family gained access to President Biden’s residence and the classified documents that he has mishandled for years,” he said.
Yet Mr Comer appears to be asking for a document that has never existed in the first place.
According to a White House official, visitors to Mr Biden’s private home are not logged and have never been logged during his time as president and during the eight years he served as vice president in the Obama administration.
A source familiar with White House security operations told The Independent that the visitor logs that are kept by every administration are generated automatically by the White House’s Worker And Visitor Entry System, known as Waves.
Every person who visits the White House complex — including the president’s and vice president’s staff, members of the press, and anyone else who enters the 18 acre campus for any reason at all — has their entry and exit tracked by scanning a badge when they pass through security checkpoints along the complex’s outer perimeter.
Staff, members of the media, and other frequent visitors may be issued a so-called “hard pass” that allows them entry at will. Other visitors are issued temporary badges after Secret Service personnel at checkpoints confirm that a White House staff member has entered an “appointment” for the visitor into the Waves system.
That same badge must also be scanned when a person exits the White House complex because gates allowing egress from the security perimeter will not open without a scanned badge.
The resulting data is used to create the visitor logs that are posted on the White House website by some administrations and eventually transferred to the National Archives by all administrations.
The source explained that Mr Biden’s private home lacks the infrastructure to enable the same logging of visitors because it is a private home.
No other president has had visitor logs kept for their private residences for the same reason. When Mr Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, spent log periods of time at his Palm Beach, Florida beach club and his New Jersey golf club, there were no visitor logs kept for those locations, either.
While the Secret Service does run cursory background checks on anyone who comes into contact with a protected person (such as a president, vice president, or a member of their family), the results of those checks are not retained in the same way as the White House entry and exit logs.
In a statement, Mr Comer did not acknowledge the impossibility of his request to view visitor logs for Mr Biden’s home and instead accused the White House of refusing to be transparent “when it matters most”.
He also accused the White House, the National Archives and Records Administration and the Department of Justice of withholding information about the records found in Mr Biden’s former office and residence.
“The American people deserve transparency, not secrecy. We will continue to press the Biden Administration for answers about who had access to these classified documents and why Biden aides were permitted to rummage through the Wilmington residence after the appointment of a special counsel,” he said.
Mr Trump, whose residences did not keep visitor logs, also weighed on the matter on his Truth Social platform on Monday, by suggesting that the lack of record-keeping is a deliberate attempt to obfuscate who may have had access to whatever Mr Biden had stored there.
“The White House just announced that there are no LOGS or information of any kind on visitors to the Wilmington house and flimsy, unlocked, and unsecured, but now very famous, garage. Maybe they are smarter than we think! This is one of seemingly many places where HIGHLY CLASSIFIED documents are stored (in a big pile on the damp floor),” he wrote.
Although Mr Trump described his Palm Beach, Florida beach club and residence as “a highly secured facility, with Security Cameras all over the place, and watched over by staff & our great Secret Service,” there were numerous security breaches at the facility when he was using it as a “Southern White House”.
In 2019, Secret Service agents arrested a Chinese national after she evaded security checkpoints to enter Mar-a-Lago with a bag laden with electronic recording equipment. She was later sentenced to eight months in jail and ordered deported by a federal judge.