Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Ranking Member Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) have requested that the classified documents that were found at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington and at President Joe Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, be turned over to the committee.
In a Thursday letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, Warner and Rubio also requested to receive classified documents that were discovered last year during the FBI raid of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida that occurred due to the former president’s failure to comply with a subpoena ordering him to turn over all classified documents. The two also asked for classified documents that were found last month in the Indiana home of former Vice President Mike Pence.
Warner and Rubio accused Garland and Haines of not complying with letters they sent to them on Aug. 14, 2022, and on Jan. 11 asking for classified documents tied to Trump and Biden, respectively.
On Jan. 23, the Department of Justice (DOJ) responded to the committee’s requests in a letter stating that it has a “longstanding policy … to maintain confidentiality of information regarding open matters” and that “[t]he Committee’s interest in overseeing the nation’s intelligence activities must be carefully balanced to protect the conduct and integrity of law enforcement investigations.”
In response, in the letter, Warner and Rubio said that while they agree with that sentiment, the DOJ “alone does not decide this balance.”
“In fact, our letters explicitly recognized the need to protect the Department’s ongoing investigations,” they wrote.
“Mindful of the Department’s interests, the letters were narrowly tailored and only requested access to the relevant classified documents and an assessment of the risk to national security if the documents were to be exposed in public or to a foreign adversary,” continued Warner and Rubio. “This information does not implicate any of the concerns cited in the Department’s January 28, 2023 letter.”
Warner and Rubio cited that since their committee is tasked with overseeing the nation’s intelligence community, they should be able to get the classified documents that have been seized that are tied to Trump, Biden, and Pence.
“Without access to the relevant classified documents we cannot effectively oversee the efforts of the Intelligence Community to address potential risks to national security arising from the mishandling of this classified information,” lamented Warner and Rubio.
The two said that their “request is not unprecedented” as there have been probes “involving the mishandling of classified information the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence have accommodated the legitimate oversight needs of this Committee without detriment to any ongoing investigation.”
Garland appointed Jack Smith late last year to be the special counsel dealing with the federal investigations of Trump including the one surrounding the classified documents retrieved from Mar-a-Lago. The appointment was made shortly after Trump announced his candidacy for the 2024 presidential election.
On Nov. 2, 2022, six days before the midterm elections, around 10 classified documents were discovered by Biden’s lawyers at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, as first reported by CBS News last month. Biden’s lawyers have said that the documents, which stemmed from Biden’s vice presidency, were turned over the next day to the National Archives, which in turn notified the DOJ.
On Dec. 20, Biden’s lawyers informed the DOJ that additional documents, also tied to Biden’s vice presidency, were found in his garage in Wilmington.
On Jan. 12, Garland appointed Robert Hur to be the special counsel dealing with the probe of the Biden classified documents.
Eight days later, DOJ officials searched Biden’s Wilmington home and found an additional six classified documents along with “surrounding materials, some of which were from the President’s service in the Senate and some of which were from his tenure as Vice President,” according to Biden’s personal attorney, Bob Bauer, in a Jan. 21 statement.
On Wednesday, the FBI inspected Biden’s vacation home in Rehoboth, Delaware, and did not find any classified documents, according to Bauer, who said the president consented to the search.
“Consistent with the process in Wilmington, the DOJ took for further review some materials and handwritten notes that appear to relate to his time as Vice President,” he said in a statement.
Last month, a lawyer for Pence, Matt Morgan, found around a dozen classified documents at Pence’s home in Carmel, Indiana, and turned them over to the FBI. The discovery came after Pence said in an interview that he didn’t take classified materials. Pence lawyer Greg Jacob told the National Archives in a letter that the documents were mistakenly packed and sent to the former vice president’s Indiana home. The FBI is expected to soon conduct a search of the home for additional classified documents.