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The Justice Department turned over another set of classified documents to congressional leaders on Friday that the FBI discovered at the residences of Presiden Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump, and former Vice President Mike Pence.
Axios reported that the Biden administration is reportedly continuing to cooperate with lawmakers following several months of criticism from both Democrats and Republicans that crucial information regarding the seized documents was being withheld.
“The documents were provided to the Gang of Eight, the top four party leaders and the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, three sources familiar told Axios,” the outlet noted, adding that the congressional members were not informed which residence each of the documents came from.
The FBI obtained documents from Trump during a high-profile raid in August. Shortly thereafter, agents found classified documents at one of Biden’s residences in Delaware after discovering some ahead of the November 2020 election at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C.
And in January, documents were discovered at Pence’s home in Indiana.
But it has taken Congress months to get an update from the DOJ. What’s more, Republicans who have controlled the House since January still cannot obtain more information regarding Biden’s potential mishandling of classified documents, even as a special counsel looks into his situation along with Trump.
“House Republicans on Tuesday called on the Biden administration to release more information about its handling of documents marked classified found in a private office once used by” Biden, CBS News reported.
“The request from Republican House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer came after the committee interviewed Gary Stern, the top lawyer for the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), in January,” the report continued.
According to Stern’s testimony to the committee, NARA had prepared a statement addressing the CBS News report on Jan. 9 which alleged that classified documents had been discovered at the Penn Biden Center. However, according to Stern, that statement was not released to any news outlets.
When he was asked by the committee to say who ordered the statement from being released, Stern declined to answer.
“According to [Justice Department] guidance, I’m not supposed to talk about the, you know, content of our communications with other parties,” he said.
But now Comer, a Republican from Kentucky, is trying to find out, CBS News noted.
In a letter addressed to Jeff Zients, the White House chief of staff, on Tuesday, he requested documents and communication “regarding the withholding of NARA’s statement it intended to issue on January 9, 2023.”
The letter noted that NARA released a statement in February 2022 following a report by The Washington Post that presidential records were discovered at Trump’s Florida estate. Subsequently, two days later, it was reported that the matter involving Trump had been referred to the Justice Department.
“The White House did not ask the Archives to withhold a statement,” White House spokesman Ian Sams told CBS News.
In January, CNN reported: “The FBI searched President Joe Biden’s former think tank office in Washington in November after his team notified the National Archives that they found classified documents there, according to a Justice Department official and another source familiar with the matter.”
The outlet noted further that a warrant was not used to search the office and that Biden’s legal team consented to it.
But, CNN noted further, “the White House and Biden’s legal team did not previously disclose the FBI’s November search, in contrast to a search conducted by the bureau earlier this month at Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware.”
“This latest revelation raises additional questions about how transparent the White House and Biden’s legal team have been about the government’s investigation into the president’s handling of classified documents, which is now being overseen by special counsel Robert Hur,” CNN noted further at the time.
Earlier in January, Attorney General Merrick Garland said: “On November 9, the FBI commenced an assessment, consistent with standard protocols, to understand whether classified information had been mishandled in violation of federal law.” The 2022 elections were held on Nov. 8.
“Biden’s team has said they initially handed classified material to the National Archives on November 3,” CNN reported.
“The Archives then informed the FBI on November 4 about the discovery of classified materials after examining the four boxes of documents, according to the source familiar with the matter.”