Officials offer briefing to congressional leaders on classified Trump and Biden documents
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. officials have offered to brief congressional leaders on their investigation into classified documents found at former President Donald Trump’s Florida residence and the president’s home and former private office. Joe Biden in Delaware, people familiar with the matter said on Sunday.
A briefing could take place this week. But that may not meet demands from lawmakers to review documents not only from Mar-a-Lago, but also from locations belonging to Biden and former Vice President Mike Pence’s home in Indiana.
Six months after federal agents first conducted an unprecedented search of a former president’s home for classified documents, the White House is facing bipartisan pressure to share what it found with lawmakers who say they are concerned about potential harm to national security and intelligence sources. Separate special advocates are investigating documents found in the possession of Trump and Biden.
Officials declined to answer most questions publicly or privately about what they found, citing ongoing criminal investigations and a separate “risk assessment” of possible harm to intelligence sources.
Rep. Mike Turner, who heads the House Intelligence Committee, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that the administration informed him it would brief on the documents this week.
“This administration needs to understand that we have pressing national security issues,” Turner (R-Ohio) said. He also asked the White House to brief him on the Chinese balloon shot down on Saturday.
“What’s interesting is that the moment this balloon went public I got notice not from the administration that I’m going to have a briefing on this balloon, but they have to rush Congress now to tell us about the Donald Trump documents,” he said, adding that a discussion of the Biden and Pence records should be included.
Three people familiar with the matter confirmed that a congressional briefing had been offered to the “Gang of Eight” – the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate and the two intelligence committees. The people spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.
No briefing should include direct access to documents that were seized, the people said.
The senses. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, requested such access in a letter last week to Attorney General Merrick Garland and director of the National Intelligence April Haines.
The director of the National Intelligence Bureau and the Justice Department both declined to comment on Sunday.
The Justice Department said about 300 documents bearing classified marks, including at the top-secret level, were recovered from Mar-a-Lago after being taken there after Trump left the White House. Last August, FBI agents executed a search warrant on the property after developing evidence that led them to believe that Trump and his representatives had failed to turn over all classified records.
The material collected at this time included approximately 13,000 government documents, including approximately 100 bearing classification marks. Some of the documents were so sensitive that Justice Department prosecutors and FBI counterintelligence investigators demanded additional security clearances to review them.
A special counsel, Jack Smith, is investigating whether to bring charges against Trump or anyone else connected to the documents. Prosecutors revealed they were investigating possible violations of several criminal laws, including willful withholding of national defense information and obstruction. A grand jury in Washington heard evidence and federal prosecutors questioned several Trump associates. It is not known how long this investigation will last.
Trump claimed the documents had been declassified and he had the power to do so just by thinking about it, although his lawyers did not repeat that claim. They tried to get an independent arbitrator to conduct an outside review of the documents, though a federal appeals court late last year halted that work and said Trump’s team didn’t was not entitled to this assessment.
Biden’s lawyers say they contacted authorities after first discovering “a small number of documents with classified marks” on Nov. 2, 2022, in a locked closet at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement. The documents were found as Biden’s lawyers cleared the offices.
A second batch of documents – again described by Biden’s attorneys as a “small number” – were found in a storage space in Biden’s garage near Wilmington, Delaware, along with six pages located in Biden’s personal library. Biden at home.
On Jan. 20, FBI agents located six additional items containing documents with classified marks and also took possession of some of Biden’s handwritten notes, according to Biden’s attorney Bob Bauer. The FBI then searched Biden’s vacation home in Delaware but found no classified documents, Bauer said afterwards.
AP White House correspondent Zeke Miller contributed to this report.
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