House Judiciary Committee subpoenas Biden ghostwriter for certain documents and records in classified documents probe

 March 23, 2024

Special Counsel Robert Hur's investigation of President Joe Biden's willful retention of classified documents following his tenure as vice president revealed that Biden shared classified materials on multiple occasions with the ghostwriter of his memoirs, Mark Zwonitzer, who did not have the proper security clearance to receive that sensitive information.

The House Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH), has now issued a subpoena for Zwonitzer to turn over all documents and communications with Biden as part of the committee's oversight of Hur's probe, Fox News reported.

The subpoena followed an unsuccessful initial request from the committee last month for Zwonitzer to voluntarily hand over the sought-after records of his correspondence and interviews with Biden concerning the two memoirs he wrote on the former vice president's behalf -- "Promise Me, Dad," and "Promises to Keep."

Committee wants Zwonitzer's "audio recordings" and "transcripts" of conversations with Biden

In a letter on Friday to Zwonitzer and his attorney, Chairman Jordan noted that President Biden had denied during a press conference that he had ever shared classified information with his ghostwriter -- a claim that stands in stark contrast to the findings in Special Counsel Hur's report.

Jordan wrote, "Hur’s report unequivocally provides that '[d]uring many of the interviews with his ghostwriter, [President] Biden read from his
notebooks nearly verbatim, sometimes for an hour or more at a time,' and 'at least three times [President] Biden read classified notes from national security meetings to [you] nearly verbatim.'"

"Despite President Biden’s unequivocal contradiction of these material facts, Special Counsel Hur’s report contains references to 'audio recordings' and 'transcripts' of your multiple conversations with President Biden 'related to [your] ghostwriting work of [President] Biden’s memoirs[.]'"

The chairman further observed that, per Hur's report, Zwonitzer had cooperated with an FBI probe into his ghostwriting for Biden and "provided investigators records that included near-verbatim transcripts and ... audio recordings." Yet, when Hur began his own investigation of Biden, Zwonitzer is alleged to have acted "to conceal some of these recordings and transcripts."

Lawyer reversed initial promise to comply with request, insisted subpoena be issued to compel cooperation

Chairman Jordan's letter to Zwonitzer also recounted the committee's initial mid-February request for the ghostwriter to voluntarily turn over certain documents and communications related to his work with then-former VP Biden on the memoirs by February 23 and how Zwonitzer's attorney had initially replied that the ghostwriter would comply with that request by no later than March 8.

However, "On March 7, 2024, your attorney retracted his previous representations, indicated that you would not produce the documents on March 8 as promised, and instead stated that he would follow up with the Committee," Jordan wrote.

Then, he continued, "On March 11, 2024 -- over two weeks after the return date on the original letter -- your attorney informed the Committee you would not produce the documents without a subpoena compelling your cooperation."

Congress has investigatory subpoena power in relation to "potential legislative reforms"

Chairman Jordan's letter to Zwonitzer pointed out that Congress enjoys "broad and indispensable" oversight powers, which include the ability to issue subpoenas as part of investigations, so long as those inquiries are geared toward "potential legislative reforms."

In this particular instance, he wrote, "The potential legislative reforms that the Committee may consider include, among other proposals, establishing clear statutory guidelines governing the handling, storage, and disclosure of classified materials, as well as modifying criminal penalties for the unauthorized dissemination and disclosure of classified materials."

"The documents we have requested regarding your work as President Biden’s ghostwriter are necessary to inform such potential legislation," Jordan stated.

"As such, please find enclosed a subpoena compelling the production of the requested documents," he added. "Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter."

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