White House: US intel review of Mar-a-Lago docs ‘appropriate’
The White House said Monday it is not involved in the intelligence community’s damage assessment of classified documents recovered from former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate but said such a review is “appropriate.”
“The White House is not involved in the damage assessment that the DNI is going to be conducting over these documents,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters when asked about the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s (DNI) assessment.
“It is an appropriate action for the director and the intelligence community to undertake,” Kirby said.
News broke late last week that Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines had informed Congress that the intelligence community would conduct an assessment of the national security risks of the disclosure of classified documents kept at Mar-a-Lago.
Before that disclosure, the White House had refused to answer questions about the prospect of a damage assessment.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), as well as lawmakers on the Senate Intelligence Committee, had requested a damage assessment following revelations about the classified documents.
A heavily redacted FBI affidavit used to secure a warrant to search Mar-a-Lago that was released on Friday said that federal authorities discovered 184 classified documents in the initial review of documents that had previously been recovered from Trump’s property. That discovery spurred the unprecedented search on Aug. 8.
The search warrant released earlier this month indicated that the documents taken from Mar-a-Lago are part of an investigation into potential violations of the Espionage Act, as well as other laws.
The White House has sought to keep distance from the investigation, saying it is under the purview of the Justice Department and that President Biden has no say in the probe. Trump, who is weighing another presidential run against Biden in 2024, has decried the investigation as politically motivated.
Even so, Biden briefly mocked Trump’s claims about a broad declassification order when asked by reporters last week.
“’I’ve declassified everything in the world. I’m president,’” Biden said sarcastically. “Come on.”
On Monday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden had not been briefed on the Justice Department’s investigation or the decision by the Office of Director of National Intelligence to conduct the damage assessment.
“We’re just not going to comment on an ongoing investigation,” she said.
—Updated at 4:53 p.m.