OAN Brooke Mallory
UPDATED 3:18 PM – Tuesday, April 11, 2023
According to insiders, members of Congress known as the “Gang of Eight” have started getting access to sensitive documents that were discovered in the custody of President Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump, and former Vice President Mike Pence after they left office.
The handling of the information is the subject of a federal inquiry after law enforcement personnel discovered documents with classified markings at the residences and private offices of all three men.
The evidence had been requested by the House and Senate intelligence committees.
Prior to now, the Justice Department had turned down the committees’ demands for the records, claiming they were a part of an ongoing investigation. However, the legislators had complained about the DOJ’s allegedly scant informational briefings on the subject.
Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said it “left much to be desired” in a statement following a briefing in February.
Both Warner and Rubio are members of the Gang of Eight, which also includes the chairmen of the House Intelligence Committee and the most powerful Democrats and Republicans in each chamber. Requests for comment from congressional leaders were not immediately answered.
The Department of Justice’s spokeswoman also declined to comment.
“They’re ruining their relationship with a committee that has always been very responsible and a very good working partner with them… There is no doubt that there’s going to be consequences for it. There has to be. We have to protect our role on oversight. And the way you do that, unfortunately, is to leverage [the power] that appropriations and authorizations give us. We would prefer not to, but if we have to, we will,” Rubio said.
In a Tuesday interview in Harrisburg, Virginia, Warner drew a correlation between the allegedly improper handling of classified documents by Biden, Trump, and Pence and the recent Pentagon leak of U.S. documents pertaining to allied countries, stating that Congress needs to play a role in a “more systemic response rather than how we just make sure this one example doesn’t happen again.”
“We’ve now got two examples, you know, the potential mishandling of documents by current and former presidents and now this potential leak, or real leak… I think it does raise a question that in some cases we way over classify. In other cases, we may appropriately classify but give out the documents to too many people,” Warner said.
A “first tranche” of the secret materials obtained from the Pence, Trump, and Biden residences have now been made available to the Gang of Eight, according to Warner, who expects to see more later this week. They have yet to receive the most “challenging” ones, he claimed.
Since the FBI initially carried out a search warrant at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in August amid suspicions that the former president had not given over all of the sensitive documents, the senators had pushed for a briefing.
More than 100 documents with classified markings were found by FBI officials.
When Biden’s lawyer disclosed that Obama-era sensitive documents had been discovered in an office that he used after leaving his position as vice president, the legislators renewed their requests for a briefing in January. Later, even more papers were found in Biden’s Delaware house.
Members of Congress were given a classified briefing on the records by the Biden administration earlier this year, but senators accused the executive branch of stonewalling and argued that they needed to see for themselves what information the men were carrying for concerns of national security.
Pence also reportedly found some secret documents in his house in February, and the FBI later discovered even more that he had been in possession of.
“It should have never taken six months for us to start being able to do our duty as congressional oversight of the intelligence community,” Warner said.
In November, Jack Smith was appointed as the special counsel looking into Trump’s handling of the confidential information by Attorney General Merrick Garland. In January, Garland chose Robert Hur to lead the investigation into the Biden materials.
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