National Security

GOP Intelligence chair asks for damage assessment from Biden records

Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio)
Greg Nash
File – Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio) addresses reporters during a press conference on Wednesday, December 14, 2022 to discuss the on-going budget negotiations.

Incoming House Intelligence Chairman Mike Turner (R-Ohio) is calling for a damage assessment into the potential fallout from the mishandling of classified records after documents from President Biden’s tenure as vice president were discovered at a center bearing his name.

The roughly 10 documents were discovered at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington in November, packed with other unclassified records as the center prepared to move office spaces.

The matter differs substantially from the ongoing investigation into the mishandling of records at former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property, both in terms of the sheer number of documents stored at the center and that Biden’s team notified the National Archives once the records were discovered.

But Republicans are calling for a thorough review, noting the danger that could stem from any mishandling of highly classified material.

“It has been reported that a portion of the materials at issue were marked ‘sensitive compartmented information,’ indicating the highest classification and most sensitive intelligence information in our government,” Turner wrote to Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines.

“This discovery of classified information would put President Biden in potential violation of laws protecting national security, including the Espionage Act and Presidential Records Act,” he said. “Those entrusted with access to classified information have a duty and an obligation to protect it. This issue demands a full and thorough review.”

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence did not immediately respond to request for comment.

The Espionage Act was among the statutes listed on a warrant to search Trump’s Florida home. The law allows for prosecution of those who mishandle national defense information — a distinction that does not require the records to be classified.

Between records Trump turned over as well as those seized during a search of the home, authorities recovered some 300 classified documents from Mar-a-Lago.

An ongoing legal battle between Trump and the Justice Department also resulted in a federal judge requiring Trump to search his other properties for any remaining government records.

Other statues the Justice Department is weighing include those that prohibit the willful retaining or concealing of records. 

The damage assessment Turner requested would review whether any of the information stored at the center was shared and whether that could compromise any sources or methods, and determine if any steps can be taken to contain the fallout.

Tags Avril Haines Biden Biden documents House Intelligence Committee Mike Turner Mike Turner

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