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DOJ Offers to Let Members of Congress See Details of Classified Docs Trump Took

An agreement between the DOJ and a bipartisan group of congressional lawmakers could come as soon as this week.

Former President Donald Trump departs after speaking at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, on November 15, 2022.

Executive branch officials have reportedly offered to share with select members of Congress insights into the investigation into classified documents that former President Donald Trump improperly removed from the White House and stored at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach, Florida.

Details on the proposal have not yet been released, and sources indicate that the offer is part of unofficial discussions regarding the sharing of information between the two government branches.

If a deal is reached, officials from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of the Director for National Intelligence (ODNI) would detail what kind of information was contained in the over 300 classified documents that were retrieved from Mar-a-Lago over the course of three searches in 2022. The information would be shared with the majority and minority leaders of both houses of Congress, as well as the chairs and ranking members of both the Senate and House intelligence committees — a group of lawmakers commonly known as the “Gang of Eight.”

The briefing could happen as soon as this week. It would likely not allow these members of Congress to directly access the documents Trump took, but could grant them access to descriptions or copies of the documents.

The deal could be stalled, however, if Republican leaders demand to see information on the classified documents that were found in President Joe Biden’s possession. There are numerous reasons why that information could be omitted, however, including the fact that the inquiry into Biden began a couple of months after the one into Trump.

Experts say that Trump’s case differs from Biden’s because Trump had significantly more classified documents in his possession. While the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the DOJ have retrieved more than 300 classified documents from Trump, fewer than 25 classified documents have been found in Biden’s possession.

By all accounts so far, Biden has been cooperative in returning documents that his legal team found to be improperly in his possession, and has allowed the DOJ to search his residences for more material. Trump has been far less cooperative, however, and may have tried to impede officials’ efforts to retrieve the documents.

NARA spent nearly all of 2021 attempting to retrieve documents that Trump had removed from the White House. Trump and his lawyers only relented and allowed NARA to retrieve documents from Mar-a-Lago in January 2022 after the agency threatened to involve Congress in the matter.

After discovering that Trump was still stashing classified documents in his home after their first retrieval, NARA notified the DOJ, which subpoenaed Trump in late spring to hand over the remaining classified documents. At the time, Trump’s lawyers signed an affidavit affirming that no more classified documents remained on the property — however, shortly afterward, evidence surfaced that the former president had ordered his employees to move additional classified documents to another location on the estate.

The DOJ then executed a search warrant on the property, retrieving more than 100 classified documents from the property in August.

Both Biden and Trump are currently being investigated by special counsels appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland to ensure independence from the DOJ in their respective inquiries.

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