Congressional leaders known as the «Gang of Eight» were «gained insight» into what is in classified documents found on the properties of President Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence, Rep. Jim Himes, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Sunday.
The bipartisan group, made up of senior lawmakers from the House and Senate, received a highly anticipated first briefing on the issue on Tuesday. In a joint interview with Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner on NBC News’ «Meet the Press,» Himes, D-Conn., indicated that both were dissatisfied with the level of information they received.
Asked if there was a distinction between the classification levels of the Biden, Trump and Pence documents, Himes said the group «has not been shown anything that would allow us to come to that conclusion,» adding that they only got a “taste” during the report
“We have to be a little careful here,” Himes said. “None of us is satisfied that we have obtained enough information to carry out our primary responsibility of making sure that sources and methods have been protected. We have more to learn before we can be satisfied with that.»
«Having received a taste, this is a very serious problem,» Himes said. “This was not something that we can clearly say that it doesn’t matter. It matters”.
Turner, R-Ohio., emphasized that when it comes to classified documents, the group is looking at the issue «holistically.»
“What do we have to do to fix this? How do we approach this? What were the risks involved?” Turner said. “We also have to understand that without Congress asking for it, there wasn’t even a risk assessment done. We were the ones who started this. That’s part of the concern.»
During the interview, Turner also criticized the FBI for «not being forthcoming» when asked if lawmakers knew what’s in the Trump, Biden and Pence documents.
“They are not giving us the information. They claim it will affect the outcome of their investigation, which of course it can’t, because the people who are the subject of their investigation know what is in those documents,” Turner said.
One thing we do know, he added, is that «administration after administration is seemingly careless and disorderly in its use of classified documents, and that’s something we need to address in a bipartisan way well beyond this.»
Following the Feb. 28 preliminary classified briefing to the Gang of Eight, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., and Vice President Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said they “let Much to be desired.»
«In keeping with our responsibility to oversee the Intelligence Community and protect our national security, today we met with leaders of the IC and the Department of Justice to discuss the exposure of classified documents,» they said in a statement. «While today’s meeting helped shed some light on these issues, it left a lot to be desired and we will continue to press for full answers to our questions in accordance with our constitutional oversight obligations.»
White House spokesman Ian Sams said the White House supported «independent» decisions by the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence regarding the briefing.
“We support the decision of the Department of Justice and the ODNI to be transparent and provide information to Congress,” Sams said in a statement. what we have said for months: that the White House has confidence in the DOJ and the ODNI to exercise independent judgment on whether or when it is appropriate, for national security reasons, to provide briefings on any information relevant to these investigations.»
He The FBI searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago been in August, recovering a top-secret treasure trove and other highly classified documents. Classified material from the Obama administration was found among Biden’s vice-presidential papers in a Washington office in November, the White House acknowledged. after CBS News first reported the discovery in January. The Justice Department found additional documents with classified marks at Biden’s Delaware home during a voluntary search. Also in January, Pence’s attorney, Greg Jacob, alerted the National Archives to classified documents discovered at the former vice president’s home in Indiana. Jacobs said Pence had ordered a search after the Biden revelations.
Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed separate special counsel to investigate the Trump and Biden documents. He has not appointed a special attorney to review the Pence documents.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and claimed last year that he can declassify documents.»thinking about it.” The White House has said that the president is cooperating fully with the Justice Department’s investigation, and Biden has suggested that the staff who packed the boxes at the end of the Obama administration were partly responsible.
Meanwhile, Pence’s attorney said the documents were «inadvertently packaged and transported» to Pence’s home at the end of the Trump administration.