Leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees shared bipartisan outrage Sunday after a series of discoveries of classified documents in the private residences of former executive branch officials, with the latest found in former Vice President Mike Pence’s Indiana home.
“It’s just really astounding because it shows there’s really a systemic problem here on the administration handling side of both the vice president’s office and the president’s office,” said Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, on ABC’s This Week.
The Department of Justice, which has appointed two separate special counsels related to the classified documents found in President Joe Biden’s private home and former private office and former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, is so far withholding the documents from Congress.
That decision has yielded a moment of bipartisan anger from leading Democrats and Republicans alike.
Smart analysis delivered to your inbox:Sign up for the OnPoltiics newsletter
“There isn’t a day that goes by that there isn’t some media report about what was found where, what some sort of characterization of the material in the press,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee in a joint interview with his colleague, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., chair of the committee, on CBS’ Face the Nation.
“Somehow, the only people who are not allowed to know what was in there are congressional oversight committees,” Rubio said.
Rubio and Warner argued that they have a right to review the documents to determine if there are any threats to national security.
“We have a right as not only members of the Intelligence Committee, but as part of the leadership to read virtually every classified document,” said Warner.
Classified documents expose wider problem:Missing classified records not uncommon
The two senators stressed that their committee is not concerned with the criminal implications of the Justice Department’s investigations, but that they are mainly concerned with national security and how Congress can act to provide additional oversight on the handling of classified information.
“We’re not interested in the timeline, the tick-tock, the who got what, who did that? Those are criminal justice matters, to the extent that that’s what it is,” said Rubio.
Turner suggested Congress will “force” the Justice Department to provide Congress access to the documents.
“They have no ability to prevent us. Congress has subpoena power, and its ability to compel the administration is absolute,” said the Ohio Republican.
We asked:After Trump, Biden, Pence, are other former presidents holding classified documents?
“You’re going to see bipartisan, bicameral support to force Attorney General Garland to make these documents available to Congress so that we can take a look at what happened, what’s in these documents, and what does Congress need to do to protect America’s secrets” Turner continued.
Regarding possible legislation on handling classified materials once a presidential administration leaves the Whites House, Warner said there will be “an awful lot more” bipartisan consensus on that//.