The Department of Justice informed top lawmakers on the Senate Intelligence Committee that it is working to brief members about national security threats posed by the discovery of classified documents at the homes of President Biden and former President Donald Trump, according to a report.
“We are working with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to support the provision of information that will satisfy the Committee’s responsibilities without harming the ongoing Special Counsel investigations,” Assistant Attorney General Carlos Uriarte wrote to Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), CBS News reported.
The letter, obtained by the news outlet, was sent Saturday evening to Warner, the committee’s chair, and Rubio, the vice chair, in response to their previous requests for an update on the documents.
Uriarte’s letter noted that the Justice Department had tried to brief lawmakers last September and acknowledged that “significant developments” had taken place since then, including the appointment of special counsels to investigate the Biden and Trump cases.
“Although one of the Special Counsels was appointed only on January 12, prosecutors on both matters are actively working to enable sharing information with the Committee,” Uriarte wrote.
The report said it was unclear why the briefing last September did not happen.
Warner, in an interview Sunday on CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” said the panel still doesn’t have a timeline for when it will receive a briefing on the documents.
”Our job here is intelligence oversight. The Justice Department has had the Trump documents about six months, the Biden documents about three months. Our job is not to figure out if somebody mishandled those, but our job is to make sure there’s not an intelligence compromise,” he said.
“And while the director of national intelligence had been willing to brief us earlier, now that you’ve got the special counsel, the notion that we’re going to be left in limbo, and we can’t do our job, that just cannot stand,” Warner told host Margaret Brennan.
Rubio dismissed concerns from the intelligence community about being hesitant to share information because of the ongoing investigations.
“I don’t know how congressional oversight on the documents, actually knowing what they are in any way impedes an investigation,” the Florida Republican said.
“These are probably materials we already have access to. We just don’t know which ones they are. And it’s not about being nosy,” he said.
“Here’s the bottom line: If, in fact, those documents were very sensitive … and they pose a counterintelligence or national security threat to the United States, then the intelligence agencies are tasked with the job of coming up with ways to mitigate that,” Rubio said.
He also pointed out the absurdity of the situation, especially with the wall-to-wall coverage of the documents in the media.
“There isn’t a day that goes by that there isn’t some media report about what was found where, what — some sort of characterization of the material in the press. So, somehow, the only people who are not allowed to know what was in there are congressional oversight committees,” he said, calling it an “untenable situation that I think has to be resolved.”
The report said the Justice Department told CBS that it is “committed to sharing as much information as we can with Congress without endangering the integrity of our ongoing investigations. That has been the Department’s longstanding policy, and we will continue to apply that policy equally.”
Classified documents were discovered at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and resort in Florida during an Aug. 8, 2022, raid by FBI agents.
Biden’s lawyers found classified documents dating back to Biden’s time in the Senate at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 2, 2022, days before the Nov. 8 midterm elections.
More classified materials were found at Biden’s Delaware home in December and in early January.
Attorney General Merrick Garland tapped veteran prosecutor Jack Smith on Nov. 18 to serve as a special counsel in the Trump case.
He appointed Robert Hur as special counsel on Jan. 12 to investigate whether the Biden documents were mishandled.
Then, classified records were found at former Vice President Mike Pence’s Indiana home earlier this month.
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