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Every U.S. presidential administration since the 1980s has mishandled classified documents, according to testimony from a National Archives and Records Administration official released Wednesday—after the discovery of classified documents at the homes of President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump led to two federal probes.
Mark Bradley, the director of the National Arhive’s Information Security Oversight Office, told the House Intelligence Committee the office has found boxes of classified information in unclassified containers from every administration since the Reagan Administration, according to a report, which the committee voted to release Wednesday.
Since 2010, the National Archives have received calls from roughly 80 libraries that have received classified papers sent from lawmakers, including members of Congress, Bradley said.
The National Archives had reportedly requested former presidents and vice presidents review their personal records for sensitive material, after boxes of classified documents were found in Biden and Trump’s possession—though representatives and aides to former presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama told CNN in January the former presidents did not keep classified records.
Bradley’s testimony comes as Biden and Trump face special counsel investigations into their handling of classified documents, and as the FBI and Department of Justice review former Vice President Mike Pence’s handling of classified material after a tranche of documents was found at his home. News of the documents broke in August after FBI agents exercised a search warrant at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, prompting criticism from the right over the FBI’s raid and raising eyebrows on the left over Trump’s handling of privileged information. The FBI is investigating whether Trump violated three federal statutes by taking documents from the White House to his Florida home and possibly obstructing a federal probe into the matter. Three months later, however, federal agents found classified Obama-era documents at Biden’s former office at the Penn Biden Center in Washington D.C., and later found additional documents at Biden’s Wilmington, Delaware, home—though White House attorneys did not announce the findings until January. Some Trump allies have equated the Biden and Trump discoveries, though in Trump’s case, prosecutors have suggested the former president may have misled his attorneys and failed to comply with a subpoena prior to the FBI’s raid.
Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement Wednesday the testimony from the National Archives “makes it clear that the handling and mishandling of classified documents are a problem that stretches beyond the Oval Office,” calling the issue “systemic,” and pleading for a better system for departing officials “to properly return classified material and protect the integrity of our national security.”
FBI First Searched Biden’s Office For Classified Documents In November, Reports Say (Forbes)
National Archives Asks Former Presidents And Vice Presidents To Search For Classified Records (Forbes)