US officials give Congress briefing on Trump documents

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. officials have offered to brief congressional leaders on their investigation into classified documents found at former President Donald Trump’s Florida residence, people familiar with the matter said Sunday.

A briefing could arrive as early as this week. But it may not meet the demands of lawmakers who want to review documents taken not only from Mar-a-Lago but also from the Wilmington, Delaware, home and former private office in Washington belonging to President Joe Biden and the Indiana home of the former Vice President Mike Pence.

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

Officials declined to answer most questions publicly or privately about what they found, citing the ongoing criminal investigation and a separate “risk assessment” of possible harm to intelligence sources.

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

“This administration needs to understand that we have pressing national security issues,” said Turner, R-Ohio. he also called on the White House to brief him on the downed Chinese balloon on Saturday.

“What’s interesting is that at the time this balloon went public, I got a notice not from the administration that I’m going to have a briefing on this balloon, but now they have to run to Congress to tell us about Donald Trump’s papers,” he said. .

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

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

Senators Mark Warner, D-Va., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee, requested such access in a letter last week to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines .

It’s also unclear whether the administration will discuss the documents found in Biden’s and Pence’s possession. Turner told NBC that records linked to Biden and Pence would be included, while two familiar people said the briefing should have focused only on Trump.

The director of the Bureau of National Intelligence and the Justice Department both declined to comment on Sunday.

The Justice Department says about 300 classified, including top-secret, marked documents were recovered from Mar-a-Lago after they were taken there after Trump left the White House. Last August, FBI agents executed a search warrant at the property after they developed evidence leading them to believe that Trump and his representatives had not returned all of the classified files.

The material taken at that time included about 13,000 government documents, of which about 100 bore classification marks. Some of the material was so sensitive that Justice Department prosecutors and FBI counterintelligence investigators requested additional security clearances to examine it.

A special counsel, Jack Smith, is investigating whether to file a lawsuit against Trump or anyone else related to the documents. Prosecutors said they are investigating possible violations of multiple criminal statutes, including the willful withholding of national defense information and obstruction. A grand jury in Washington heard the evidence, and federal prosecutors interviewed several of Trump’s associates. It is unclear how long the investigation will continue.

Trump said the materials were declassified and that he had the power to do so just by thinking about them, though his lawyers have not repeated that claim. They sought to have an independent arbitrator conduct an external review of the documents, though a federal appeals court late last year concluded that work and said the Trump team was not entitled to such an assessment.


Zeke Miller, AP White House correspondent, contributed to this report.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *