Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition

‘Gang of Eight’ said to get briefing on classified files

Insiders signal direct access into Trump, Biden docs not likely

- By Nomaan Merchant, Michael Balsamo and Eric Tucker

WASHINGTON — U.S. officials have offered to brief congressio­nal leaders on their investigat­ion into the classified documents found at former President Donald Trump’s Florida residence as well as President Joe Biden’s Delaware home and former private office, people familiar with the matter said Sunday.

A briefing could come as soon as this week. But it may not meet demands from lawmakers who want to review the documents taken not just from Mar-aLago but also from the locations belonging to Biden and the Indiana home of former Vice President Mike Pence.

Six months after federal agents first conducted an unpreceden­ted search of a former president’s home for classified documents, the White House faces bipartisan pressure to share what it found with lawmakers who say they are concerned about the potential damage to national security and intelligen­ce sources. Separate special counsels are investigat­ing the documents found in the possession of Trump and Biden.

Officials have declined to answer most questions in public or private about what they found, citing the criminal investigat­ions and a separate “risk assessment” of the possible damage to intelligen­ce sources.

Rep. Mike Turner, who heads the House Intelligen­ce Committee, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that the administra­tion notified him it would brief on the documents this week.

“This administra­tion needs to understand we do have national security urgent matters,” said Turner, R-Ohio. He also called on the White House to brief him on the Chinese balloon shot down Saturday.

“What’s interestin­g is that the moment this balloon became public, I got a notice not from the administra­tion that I’m going to get a briefing on this balloon, but they have to rush to Congress now to talk to us about Donald Trump’s documents,” he said, adding that a discussion of Biden and Pence’s records was expected to be included.

Three people familiar with the matter confirmed a congressio­nal briefing was offered to the “Gang of Eight” — the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate and of both intelligen­ce committees. The people spoke on condition of anonymity.

Any briefing is not expected to include direct access to the documents that were seized, the people said.

Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligen­ce Committee, asked for that access in a letter last week to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Director of National Intelligen­ce Avril Haines.

The director of national intelligen­ce’s office and Department of Justice both declined to comment Sunday.

The Justice Department says 300 documents with classified markings, including at the top-secret level, have been recovered from Mar-a-Lago after being taken there after Trump left the White House. Last August, FBI agents executed a search warrant at the property after developing evidence that led them to believe that Trump and his representa­tives had not returned all the classified files.

The material taken at that time included 13,000 government documents, including 100 bearing classifica­tion markings. Some of the material was so sensitive that Justice Department prosecutor­s and FBI counterint­elligence investigat­ors required additional security clearances to review them.

A special counsel, Jack Smith, is investigat­ing whether to bring charges against Trump or anyone else related to the documents.

Trump has claimed that the materials were declassifi­ed and that he had the power to do so just by thinking about it, though his lawyers have not repeated that claim.

Biden’s lawyers say they contacted authoritie­s after first discoverin­g “a small number of documents with classified markings” on Nov. 2, 2022, in a locked closet at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.

A second batch of documents — again described by Biden’s lawyers 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 in his home.

FBI agents on Jan. 20 located six additional items that contained documents with classified markings and also took possession of some of Biden’s handwritte­n notes, according to Biden lawyer Bob Bauer.

 ?? U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE 2022 ?? Documents seized by FBI agents in an Aug. 8 search of Mar-a-Lago in Florida. A special counsel is investigat­ing whether to charge former President Trump.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE 2022 Documents seized by FBI agents in an Aug. 8 search of Mar-a-Lago in Florida. A special counsel is investigat­ing whether to charge former President Trump.

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