The Biden administration has begun delivering to Congress classified documents seized from the homes and private offices of President Biden, former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence, according to reports.
Members of the Gang of Eight, comprised of House and Senate leadership and top members of both chambers’ intelligence committees, began receiving access to the documents last week after a monthslong standoff with the administration.
The development was first reported by Punchbowl News on Tuesday.
Bipartisan frustration reached a tipping point following a closed-door hearing in January in which the Office of the Director of National Intelligence blocked the release of key details of the documents until the Justice Department concludes its investigations.
Sen. Mark Warner, Virginia Democrat and chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said the administration’s refusal to release the documents “doesn’t pass the smell test.”
“The administration’s position is untenable,” Mr. Warner told reporters last month. “If there was a violation made by President Trump, President Biden or Vice President Pence about the mishandling of documents, that ought to be pursued. … I’m concerned not only about the documents, but what has been done, if anything, to mitigate” further mishandling.
Classified documents dating to Mr. Biden’s time as vice president were discovered at the Washington office of his University of Pennsylvania-affiliated think tank last November, just days before the midterm elections.
More classified documents were later discovered at Mr. Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware.
The White House didn’t acknowledge the matter until after it was made public by CBS News in January.
After meeting in January with Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, Republicans and Democrats fumed over the administration’s decision to stonewall senators over key details behind the classified documents.
Lawmakers said the administration’s stonewalling impeded the committee’s ability to do its job of providing oversight of the intelligence community.
“I think this responsibility lies at the Department of Justice,” Mr. Warner said on Monday. “I’m hoping for progress this week. I’m not saying a solution. I’m hoping for progress.”
Committee members said the intelligence officials had not provided a preliminary assessment of the risk to national security posed by the unsecured documents.
Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican on the committee, said in January that the briefing raised questions about whether the ODNI had viewed the documents or was being barred from doing so until the Justice Department completed its investigation.
The Justice Department has also stonewalled requests from the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee.
Justice officials have said the release of certain information to lawmakers could hamper ongoing special counsel investigations into the matter.