Washington — The Justice Department is working to brief lawmakers on potential national security risks after classified documents were discovered in the homes of both former President Donald Trump and President Biden, a department official told senators in a letter Saturday.
The letter from Assistant Attorney General Carlos Uriarte, obtained by CBS News from a source on Capitol Hill, was sent to the chairmen of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Saturday night and came in response to previous requests from the committee’s two highest-ranking members for information about the documents. .
Uriart wrote in a letter to Senators Mark Warner and Marco RubioChairman and Vice Chairman of the Committee.
The letter revealed that the Ministry of Justice had tried to brief MPs last September. She also acknowledged that there have been “significant developments” since then, including the appointment of special counsels to oversee separate investigations into documents found at Trump’s Florida estate and Mr. Biden’s home in Delaware.
“Although a special counsel was only appointed on January 12, prosecutors in both cases are actively working to enable information sharing with the commission,” Yuriarty wrote.
It remains unclear why department officials did not brief lawmakers last fall.
In a separate commentary on CBS News, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice said, “The Department is committed to sharing as much information as possible with Congress without jeopardizing the integrity of our ongoing investigations. This has been long-standing Department policy, and we will continue to apply that policy equally.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland in November Eye Special counsel Jack Smith to take over the investigation Trump handled the documents I discovered pregnant hashtags at his Mar-a-Lago estate.
in In response to inquiries from CBS NewsEarlier this month, the White House confirmed that documents marked classified dating back to Mr. Biden’s presidency were discovered in his former office at a Washington think tank on November 2. additional records The hashtags have since been found in the home of Chief Wilmington, Delaware. Garland earlier this month named a file The second special counselRobert Hoare to oversee the Justice Department’s investigation into documents found in Mr. Biden’s possession.
A letter was also sent Saturday to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, a Democrat, and ranking member Lindsey Graham, a Republican. Yuriarty leads the Office of Legislative Affairs in the Ministry of Justice.
In the wake of the Aug. 8 search of Mar-a-Lago, there have been requests from both chambers for information about potential national security risks posed by documents retrieved by federal investigators. The government has recovered more than 300 hashtag documents from Trump since the end of his presidency.
Lawmakers sought similar information on approximately 25 to 30 records found in Biden’s former office at the Ben Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement and his home in Wilmington. Some documents date back to his time in the Senate and others to his viceroyalty.
The Senate Intelligence Committee met last week with Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, but Warner and Rubio said the meeting left them dissatisfied because they were unable to see the records at the Biden and Trump homes.
“Our job is not to find out if someone mishandled those. Our job is to make sure there is no intelligence compromise,” Warner said. He said, “Face the nation.” In an interview recorded last Thursday. “And while the Director of National Intelligence was willing to share with us earlier, now that I’ve got the special counsel, the idea that we’re going to be left in limbo and we can’t do our job — that can’t be understood.”
Rubio told “Face the Nation” that it was an “indefensible situation” to deny the intelligence committee access to the records because of the special counsels’ investigation.
In his letter to Warner and Rubio, Uriarte wrote that the administration “looks forward to continuing engagement with the committee to meet its needs while protecting the interests of the administration.”
“It has been the administration’s longstanding policy to keep information on open matters confidential,” he wrote. “The committee’s interest in overseeing the nation’s intelligence activities must be carefully weighed against protecting the conduct and integrity of law enforcement investigations.”
Uriarty added that Justice Department policy protects the interests of the American people and the “effective administration of justice.”
He said that “disclosing non-public information about ongoing investigations may violate legal requirements or court orders, reveal roadmaps for our investigations, and interfere with the department’s ability to gather facts, interview witnesses, and file criminal cases when appropriate.” “Maintaining confidentiality also protects the legal rights, personal safety, and privacy interests of individuals involved in or assisting in our investigations.”
Mike Turner, R-Ohio, Republican, chairman of the new House Intelligence Committee, told Face the Nation. in December A briefing and damage assessment by the Director of National Intelligence was “in process,” however he said last week He has not heard from the intelligence community since formally requesting a briefing earlier in January. Turner gave the director a January 26 deadline to comply.