Rep. Mike Turner (Ohio), the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee and its likely next chairman, said planning is underway for Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines to brief lawmakers on the circumstances surrounding classified documents seized from former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property over the summer.
During an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Turner indicated he has met with Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) and outgoing House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) to work through scheduling issues for the meeting.
“One issue that we have discussed with the director, which is very, very interesting, is is that, you know, prior to the Mar-a-Lago and raid, no one in the intelligence community or in the national security community was engaged at all by the FBI to request an assessment as to what the risk of the documents that had been surrendered from Mar-a-Lago or that might have been at Mar-a-Lago or that were even perceived as being missing,” Turner said.
When asked to confirm that he wasn’t downplaying the notion of the former president taking classified materials to his home, Turner said, “Absolutely not.”
“There were just — there were other options that the FBI had versus the escalation that, that they did. That’s certainly going to be one of the questions we have. The director of national intelligence indicated they have conducted their risk assessment and they are prepared to give both of our committees on the Senate and the House presentations as to what those are,” Turner said.
“It’s just a scheduling issue … and as they look to how do we get everybody scheduled together and those who’ve done the assessment because, again, it’s not just the director that will be coming,” Turner said. “They’ll have to come forward to give us: What did they see? What do they have? And how do they perceive the threat that may or may not have existed from some of these documents?”
The Hill has reached out to Haines’s office for comment.
Trump’s team turned over 15 boxes of presidential records to the National Archives in January after a months-long stalemate. The Archives alerted the Justice Department after it discovered documents with classified markings were taken and others remained missing.
Prosecutors subsequently developed evidence that additional classified materials remained at Mar-a-Lago and served Trump’s team with a subpoena for them in early May. The next month, Trump’s attorneys handed over 38 classified documents and a declaration that they had conducted a diligent search and produced all responsive documents.
But the FBI eventually executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago in August and seized more than 22,000 pages of materials, including roughly 100 documents with various classification markings, some of which were top secret.
Turner and some others in the GOP have criticized the search, framing it as an unnecessary escalation.
But following the search, Trump sought to appoint a special master to review the seized materials for privilege claims before investigators could continue examining them.
A federal judge granted the request in September.
The Justice Department opposed the move, arguing in part that it would delay the damage assessment of the classified materials, and an appeals court later granted the department’s request to continue examining materials that bore classification markings.
The appeals court last week overturned the special master appointment entirely, paving the way for federal investigators to comb through all 22,000 pages of documents stored at Mar-a-Lago.
Updated: 10:12 a.m.