Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner and Vice Chairman Marco Rubio expressed deep disappointment Wednesday over the panel’s inability to access the classified documents that have been found in the possession of two presidents – a sign of bipartisan frustration over the issue.
Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, warned after a briefing by Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines that “all things will be on the table” to ensure the committee can conduct its constitutional responsibility of oversight.
He added that “every member” of the committee was “unanimous” that the Justice Department’s position, to not allow the committee to see the documents found at former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden’s properties until the special counsels approve it, “is not going to stand, and all things will be on the table to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Asked to elaborate, Warner responded, “We don’t want to get into a question of threats at this point. But we want to say this though: We have a job to do, it is our job to make sure that the security of our country is protected and that the intelligence that our country depends upon is not compromised. The notion that we have to wait until a special prosecutor blesses the intelligence committee’s oversight will not stand.”
Warner expressed his disappointment “with the lack of detail and a timeline on when we’re going to get a briefing. … It is our responsibility to make sure that we, in as role of the intelligence oversight, know if there’s been any intelligence compromised.”
The committee first requested “a damage assessment of any national security threat posed by the mishandling of this information” in the wake of the FBI’s search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort last summer. In the months since, additional classified documents have been discovered at Biden’s former Washington office and Wilmington, Delaware home, as well as former Vice President Mike Pence’s Indiana home.
Rubio, a Florida Republican, echoed Warner, saying the meeting was “very unsatisfying.”
“We simply want to know what was this information,” said Rubio. “What was these materials that they had? So that we can make an honest assessment when they provide us a risk assessment, of whether or not they’ve taken the proper mitigation if any was necessary.” He agreed with Warner that the DOJ’s current position is “untenable.”
Although Warner would not detail what options were on the table, GOP Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas said he will take steps to “impose consequences” on the Biden administration until they allow Congress to see classified documents found in possession of Biden, Trump and Pence.
Cotton told reporters following the briefing, “I’m prepared to refuse consent or to fast track any nominee for any department or agency and take every step I can on every committee on which I serve to impose consequences on the administration until they provide these documents.”
Any one senator can slow down the process on the Senate floor for a quick confirmation vote.