Senate Intel Committee Members: 'The Administration Is Stonewalling Congress' on Biden/Trump Classified Documents

Susan Jones | January 26, 2023 | 8:43am EST
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(Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

( - Following a classified meeting Wednesday with Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence, senators from both parties emerged with complaints that the Biden administration is refusing to tell them what classified materials were found in the home of former President Donald Trump and in the home and office of President Joe Biden.

"The administration is stonewalling Congress on the classified documents at President Trump's residence and at President Biden's residence and office, which is totally unacceptable," Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) told reporters after the two-hour meeting.

"The members of the intelligence committee -- for that matter, members of Congress -- have an absolute right to this information so we can make an informed judgement about the risk, if any, these documents have posed to our national security by being improperly handled."

Cotton said no one in Congress has seen the documents so far.

And until the administration stops stonewalling, "there will be pain as a consequence for them," Cotton said. He mentioned the option of blocking nominees or withholding budgetary funds.

Letting intelligence committee members know what kind of classified information was mishandled "in no way interferes with the Department of Justice's investigation," Cotton argued. Special counsels appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland are now investigating both the Trump case and the Biden case.

"What I've consistently heard -- what other senators have consistently heard -- is they cannot provide these documents while there are special counsels investigating both President Biden and President Trump, which is a farce," Cotton said.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the ranking member of the intelligence committee, tweeted after the meeting:

"Senate Intel members have a right & obligation to review the classified materials found in the homes of Presidents Trump & Biden."

Rubio said the director of national security, Avril Haines, "is flat out refusing to let us do our jobs. There will be bipartisan consequences imposed until they come to their senses," he warned.

And even Committee Chairman Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, told reporters, “I’m very disappointed with the lack of detail and a timeline on when we’re going to get a briefing, not on anything dealing with criminality — that’s an appropriate Department of Justice responsibility — but it is our responsibility to make sure that we, in our role as intelligence oversight, know if there’s been any intelligence compromised."

Warner added that, "Every member of the committee, regardless of Democrat or Republican, were unanimous in that this position, that we are left in limbo until somehow a special counsel designates that it's okay for us to get briefed, is not going to stand. And all things will be on the table to make sure that doesn't happen.”

Warner said the intelligence committee also plans to investigate what he called the "broken system" that has allowed multiple government officials to leave office with classified materials, whether inadvertent or not.  "And we're going to fix this," he said.

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