Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) has slammed the White House for not being forthright about the contents of classified documents that were found at President Biden’s Delaware home and former Washington, DC, office, as well as at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
“This is where the Biden administration gets an absolute failing grade,” Warner told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Wednesday. “Their position is outrageous.”
“I’m done with the lack of willingness for the administration to address this,” added Warner, who noted both Democrats and Republicans were upset the White House had not complied with requests for information about the documents beginning this past September.
“We’ve seen squat,” Warner told Mitchell. “I’m not a guy that comes on TV and makes threats, but I’m joining with my Republican colleagues and my colleagues, Democrat and Republican, in the House. This position cannot stand.”
Warner went on to suggest the committee could “use other tools” such as a subpoena to obtain the information.
“Their dragging their feet is outrageous,” he said. “We’ve got a job to do. And if we can’t get it through a negotiation process with them, we will use other tools.”
The Justice Department last month briefed members of the committee, but Warner and Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said the meeting “left much to be desired.”
The FBI seized boxes of classified documents from the president’s Wilmington home that date from Biden’s days as vice president and as a US senator.
Other documents that Biden’s attorneys discovered at his Penn Biden Center office this past November and subsequently handed over pertained to foreign policy issues involving Iran, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.
The lawyers were aware of the documents before the midterm elections, but the information was not made public until CBS News broke the story this past January.
The FBI also took approximately 300 classified documents from Trump’s estate Aug. 8 after the former president failed to turn over materials requested by the National Archives.
The actions by Trump and Biden violated the Presidential Records Act, and prompted Warner and Rubio to request a risk assessment from top intelligence officials of any potential threats to national security.
“We have a constitutional responsibility to see those documents — the classified ones — make a judgment whether the intelligence community did appropriate protection, and if those documents were to fall into the wrong hands, what kind of mitigation we could take,” Warner said on MSNBC. “Their position does not pass the smell test.”
In response Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, “We’re going to have disagreements with — you know, with elected officials that we work with, with our partners and friends. That happens all the time.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed separate special counsels to look into the Biden and Trump documents, and stonewalled lawmakers who raised questions this week about the investigations.
“We do have to balance the concerns of ongoing criminal investigations, but we also well recognize the oversight responsibilities and obligations of the committee, and we intend to work out an arrangement that will accommodate those interests,” Garland told members of a Senate Appropriations subcommittee.
Warner and Rubio sent a letter earlier this month to Garland and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, noting their requests were “narrowly tailored” and transparency about the documents would not threaten any ongoing investigations.
Former Vice President Mike Pence also turned over two boxes of classified materials to the FBI in January, and the bureau searched his home weeks later to recover one additional document.
Warner praised Pence’s handling of the situation Wednesday in contrast to his excoriation of Biden, saying: “He trusts us to look at those documents.”