Members of both major parties are upset and threatening action after the White House refused to allow the Senate Intelligence Committee to access classified documents found in the records of President Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence.
Panel Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) blasted the administration’s decision in a press conference with reporters, following a closed-door hearing with National Intelligence Director Avril Haines.
The White House has suggested it cannot share information until receiving the go-ahead from the special counsels investigating the apparent mishandling of classified documents by Biden and Trump.
But Warner and Rubio have contested this argument.
“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,” Warner told reporters, according to CNN. “The notion that we have to wait until a special prosecutor blesses the intelligence committee’s oversight will not stand.”
Rubio called the meeting “very unsatisfying.”
“The information we’re asking for has no bearing whatsoever or would interfere in no way with a criminal investigation,” he said, according to The Associated Press.
Warner said Haines did not share any details about when the committee might later be briefed on the information.
It is currently unclear how far members are willing to go to pressure the administration, with Warner simply saying “all things will be on the table.”
But Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who also sits on the panel, issued a more direct warning.
“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,” he said.
This comes after Greg Jacob, a lawyer for Pence, told the National Archives that a “small number” of classified documents were discovered in Pence’s Indiana home. The disclosure, which occurred last week but was only publicly revealed Tuesday, drew surprise even from Republicans on Capitol Hill.
“What the heck?” Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) told reporters in reaction to the news.
It is unknown if Pence will also face a special counsel investigation.
The former vice president, who is thought to be mulling a 2024 presidential run, had previously denied having any classified files in his possession.
The FBI searched Biden’s Delaware home Friday and recovered six classified files dating back to his time in the Senate and the vice presidency. Agents also recovered handwritten notes from when he was vice president.
Those were in addition to files that his lawyers found earlier in the Wilmington residence and in his former office in Washington.
Biden has maintained that “there’s no there there” and that he is “fully cooperating.”
Trump, on the other hand, has expressed rage at the investigation into his own documents.
His failure to comply with multiple requests to return the files after he left the White House had prompted the FBI search to search his Mar-a-Lago estate last year.
Trump has sharply criticized the agents who searched the Florida home, comparing them to the Nazi’s secret police and suggesting that they planted the documents there.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has requested a risk assessment on the Trump documents since last summer’s search, but that has yet to materialize.
The National Archives is considering writing to all living former presidents and vice presidents and urging them to search their records for any remaining classified material that hasn’t been properly turned over, according to CNN.
The National Archives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.