- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 8, 2023

The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday said the panel has “unfinished business” after the White House blocked the release of details behind President Biden’s mishandling of classified documents by administration officials.

Sen. Mark Warner, Virginia Democrat, voiced bipartisan frustration that has lingered among committee members following a closed-door hearing in January where lawmakers said the Office of the Director of National Intelligence blocked the release of key details of the documents until the Department of Justice concludes its investigations.

“I think I speak for everyone on the committee: We still have unfinished business regarding the classified documents that we need to see in order for this Intelligence Committee to effectively oversee its job of intelligence oversight,” Mr. Warner said during his opening remarks during a high-profile hearing on worldwide threats. “We must resolve this issue soon.”

Classified documents dating to Mr. Biden’s time as vice president were discovered at the Washington office of his University of Pennsylvania-affiliated think tank in November, just days before the midterm elections.

More classified documents were later discovered at Mr. Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware.

The White House didn’t acknowledge the matter until after it was made public by CBS in January.

After meeting in January with Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, Republican and Democratic senators fumed over the administration’s decision to stonewall senators over key details behind the classified documents.

Lawmakers said the administration’s stonewalling impeded the committee’s ability to do its job of providing oversight of the intelligence community.

Committee members said the intelligence office had not provided a preliminary assessment of the risk to national security posed by the unsecured documents.

The intelligence office also has not provided a risk assessment concerning the documents recovered in the FBI raid of Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida. Ms. Haines said in August that the intelligence community would undertake such a review.

Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican on the committee, said in January that the briefing raised questions about whether the Office of the Director of National Intelligence had viewed the documents or was being barred from doing so until the DOJ completed its investigation.

The Department of Justice has also stonewalled requests from the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee.

Justice officials have said the release of certain information to lawmakers could hamper ongoing special counsel investigations into the matter.

On Tuesday, House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairman James Comer, Kentucky Republican, pressed the White House over claims that the National Archives and Records Administration was barred from issuing a public statement after it was alerted to the discovery of classified documents from Mr. Biden’s Washington think tank.

The archives’ general counsel, Gary Stern, testified before the committee in January that NARA drafted a public statement in response to CBS’ Jan. 9 report that Mr. Biden had stored classified materials at the Penn Biden Center, but that someone outside of NARA blocked the release.

The top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, pushed back on Mr. Comer’s characterization of Mr. Stern’s testimony to the committee in a staff memo Tuesday.

Mr. Raskin provided additional remarks from Mr. Stern in the staff memo, in which the counsel confirmed that Acting Archivist Debra Steidel Wall directed NARA personnel not to comment on “potential or ongoing investigations.”

• Joseph Clark can be reached at jclark@washingtontimes.com.

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