WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Mark Warner, D-Va., has requested a briefing on the classified documents discovered in President Joe Biden’s office.
“Our classification system exists to protect our most important national security secrets, and as part of our constitutional oversight obligations, we expect to be briefed on what happened both at Mar-a-Lago and at the Biden office,” Warner said in a statement Tuesday, referring to the classified documents seized from former President Donald Trump’s home.
According to Warner, the case involving Biden appears to be “about finding documents with markings and turning them over,” which he claims pales in comparison to what federal officials discovered at Trump’s Florida residence. It’s “certainly not the same as a months-long effort to retain material actively sought by the government,” Warner said.
Warner has expressed disappointment that a briefing for congressional leaders on the classified documents discovered in Trump’s possession at Mar-a-Lago did not take place. In December, he told NBC News that “it’s a little embarrassing” that a group of eight top congressional leaders was never briefed on the scope of the classified material discovered at the resort. The delay was caused in part by scheduling issues, but a briefing on it was also not a top priority for some members of the group.
Other Democrats have defended the president since the story about Biden’s documents broke Monday night.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin, D-Ill., issued a statement Tuesday praising Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland for their handling of the situation.
“In contrast to former President Donald Trump, who allegedly obstructed efforts to recover hundreds of classified documents, the handful of classified documents reportedly discovered at the Biden Center were immediately sent to the National Archives, and President Biden is allowing the Justice Department to operate free of political interference,” Durbin said. “Merrick Garland, unlike Donald Trump’s Attorney General, Bill Barr, is not acting as the President’s personal lawyer.”
White House lawyer Richard Sauber said Monday that a “small number of documents” with classified markings that appear to be from the Obama administration were discovered days before the November midterm elections at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington.
Biden’s attorneys discovered the documents in a locked closet as they prepared to vacate office space at the centre.
According to a source familiar with the situation, Biden was only made aware of the classified documents stored in his former office after his lawyers informed him that they had been discovered. Garland has asked the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, John R. Lausch, to look into the matter.
This comes as the Department of Justice has appointed Jack Smith as a special counsel to investigate Trump’s possession of classified information. Last August, FBI agents executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago and discovered more than 100 classified documents, including some marked top secret.