Biden officials to assess Mar-a-Lago documents for national security risk

The correspondence marks the Biden administration's first known contact with Congress about the ongoing investigation surrounding the former Republican president.


President Joe Biden's Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines' office will lead an "assessment of the potential risk to national security" that may result from the disclosure of classified documents former President Donald Trump allegedly had at his Mar-a-Lago residence.

In a letter to House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney of New York and House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff of California, Haines said the Department of Justice will also review the classification of the materials.

"The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) are working together to facilitate a classification review of relevant materials, including those recovered during the search," Haines wrote. The review will be conducted in a manner that "does not unduly interfere with DOJ’s ongoing criminal investigation."

The correspondence marks the Biden administration's first known contact with Congress about the ongoing investigation surrounding the former Republican president. Court documents unsealed Friday reveal the DOJ is investigating Trump for potential violations of the Presidential Records Act, the Espionage Act, and obstruction of justice.

The letter also makes the first known acknowledgment by the intelligence community of the potential harm caused by the missing documents, which prosecutors claimed Friday include human-source intelligence and information gathered from foreign intercepts, reported Politico.

Lawmakers and everyday Americans have been demanding document details since the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago on August 8. The full substance of the documents has not yet been released.

Haines' letter was received the same day a federal judge unsealed a heavily redacted version of the affidavit outlining the DOJ's justification for obtaining a search warrant for Mar-a-Lago. The affidavit revealed that prosecutors believed Trump was holding a range of top-secret documents at his private residence, including some of the former president’s handwritten notes.

In a list of reasons for redactions, most of which were redacted themselves, three lines only read: Agent safety.

"We are pleased that in response to our inquiry, Director Haines has confirmed that the Intelligence Community and Department of Justice are assessing the damage caused by the improper storage of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago," Schiff and Maloney said in a joint statement to Politico.

"The DOJ affidavit, partially unsealed yesterday, affirms our grave concern that among the documents stored at Mar-a-Lago were those that could endanger human sources. It is critical that the IC move swiftly to assess and, if necessary, to mitigate the damage done — a process that should proceed in parallel with [the] DOJ's criminal investigation."

The Senate Intelligence Committee has requested the intelligence community assess potential damage related to Trump's handling of the top-secret documents. The panel's chair, Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, and vice chair Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida both signed the bipartisan effort.

In addition to informing Maloney and Schiff of her office’s intent to conduct a damage assessment, Haines sent a similar statement to Warner and Rubio on Friday.

The senators also asked the DOJ to grant the committee access to documents seized from Trump, along with a wider group of House representatives.

In a statement released Saturday, Rubio claimed the DOJ has yet to respond to the committee’s letter, but made no reference to Haines' response.

"The Senate Intelligence Committee is still waiting for information from the Department of Justice about the specific intelligence documents seized from Mar-a-Lago and what necessitated an unprecedented search warrant on President Trump’s residence," Rubio said.


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