The Department of Justice has begun to provide some lawmakers access to the classified documents recovered from the homes of President Biden and former President Trump following a pressure campaign from senators threatening to withhold funding, according to sources familiar with the situation.
The documents were provided to the Gang of Eight, comprised of the top four leaders in Congress and the head Republican and Democrat from both the Senate and House Intelligence committees. They include a set of documents found at the home of former Vice President Mike Pence.
The capitulation comes after months of complaints from lawmakers and assurances from both DOJ and the intelligence community, which argued turning over such sensitive documents was complicated by the appointment of two special counsels reviewing the matter.
Punchbowl News first reported the development.
Senators had been especially vocal in recent weeks about plans to block funding to the Justice Department over what they viewed as department limitations on their oversight.
“They’re ruining their relationship with a committee that has always been very responsible and a very good working partner with them,” Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), the top Republican on the committee, told The Hill.
“There’s no doubt that there’s going to be consequences for it. There has to be. We have to protect our role on oversight. And the way you do that, unfortunately, is to leverage [the power] that appropriations and authorizations give us. We would prefer not to, but if we have to, we will.”
Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), a member of the Intelligence Committee, said the panel was looking for ways to reach into the executive office of the Justice Department.
“We have the ability to be able to fence off certain amounts [so] that you don’t actually receive that until you’re actually operating in full faith,” he told The Hill previously.
Lawmakers, who likewise has access to documents from the Mueller investigation, argue they need to oversee the potential national security fallout from the failure to keep the documents properly stored. That includes weighing if the intelligence community has taken all necessary steps to remedy the damage.
The Justice Department on Tuesday declined to comment.
Attorney General Merrick Garland, however, late last month said the documents could soon be shared.
“We believe that there is an accommodation possible. We’ve been trying to work towards accommodation. We do have to balance the concerns of ongoing criminal investigations. But we also well recognize the oversight responsibilities and obligations of the committee. And we intend to work out an arrangement that will accommodate those interests,” he said during an appearance before the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Lawmakers have been working to get access to the records since Trump’s home was first searched last August.
While about 20 records are believed to have been found among Biden’s former office and home, in total authorities recovered some 300 classified records from Mar-a-Lago between various exchanges with Trump and his attorneys.
Source: The Hill