(CNSNews.com) – The Senate intelligence committee has a “long, bipartisan history of doing its job,” Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
“And our job here is intelligence oversight. The Justice Department has had the Trump documents about six months, the Biden documents about three months.
“Our job is not to figure out if somebody mishandled those, but our job is to make sure there’s not an intelligence compromise.
“And while the director of national intelligence had been willing to brief us earlier, now that you’ve got the special counsel, the notion that we’re going to be left in limbo, and we can’t do our job, that just cannot stand.”
Both Democrats and Republicans on the Senate intelligence committee have complained about the Justice Department’s refusal to let the committee review classified documents apparently mishandled by a former president and two former vice presidents.
Warner appeared on CBS alongside Committee Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who questioned how congressional oversight would impede a special counsel investigation, as the Biden administration has suggested:
“These are probably materials we already have access to,” Rubio said. “We just don’t know which ones they are.
“And it’s not about being nosy. You know, the — here’s the bottom line. If, in fact, those documents were very sensitive, materials were sensitive, and they pose a counter-intelligence or national security threat to the United States, then the intelligence agencies are tasked with the job of coming up with ways to mitigate that.”
Rubio also pointed to the absurdity of reporters knowing more about the classified documents than the intelligence committee does:
“There isn’t a day that goes by that there isn’t some media report about what was found, where — some sort of characterization of the material in the press. So, somehow, the only people who are not allowed to know what was in there are congressional oversight committees.
“So, it’s an untenable situation that I think has to be resolved,” Rubio said.
(Media reports have said some of the classified documents found in Joe Biden’s possession pertain to Ukraine, Iran, and the United Kingdom.)
“We have a right, as not only members of the intelligence committee, but as part of the leadership, to read virtually every classified document,” Warner said.
“We’re going to figure out a way to make sure that we get that access, so that we can not only tell the American people, but we’ve got another 85 U.S. senators who are not on the intelligence committee who look to us to get those assurances” [that national security was not jeopardized].
Rubio said he would “prefer” for the Biden administration “just to call us this morning or tomorrow or whenever and say, look, this is the arrangement that we think we can reach, so that the overseers can get access to this.”
Warner said the discovery of classified documents at the home and office of Joe Biden and at the homes of Donald Trump and even Mike Pence moves the issue of over-classification “to the forefront.”
“And again, we have the power to write legislation, which then executive agencies have to follow…in terms of record-keeping, in terms, literally, of at least guidance on classification issues,” Warner said.
“I mean, there has been — and again, this director of national intelligence, I’m going to give her credit. She has been at least acknowledging and, long before this issue came up, said, we need to work on this issue of declassification, over-classification.
“Every director says it, and then it kind of gets pushed — pushed back. I think one good thing that may come out of this is that we’re going to find a way to resolve this issue on a going-forward basis.”
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