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Senate Intel chair calls for a briefing on classified docs found in Biden office

Warner has voiced frustration that a briefing for congressional leaders about the classified documents found in Trump’s possession at Mar-a-Lago never materialized.

WASHINGTON — Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Mark Warner, D-Va., is calling for his committee to receive a briefing on the classified documents discovered in an office used by President Joe Biden.

"Our system of classification exists in order to protect our most important national security secrets, and we expect to be briefed on what happened both at Mar-a-Lago and at the Biden office as part of our constitutional oversight obligations," Warner said in a statement Tuesday, referring to the classified documents that were seized from former President Donald Trump's home.

Warner said it appears the case involving Biden is "about finding documents with markings, and turning them over," which he suggested is nothing in comparison to what federal officials found at Trump's Florida residence. It's "certainly different from a months-long effort to retain material actively being sought by the government," Warner said.

Warner has voiced frustration that a briefing for congressional leaders about the classified documents found in Trump’s possession at Mar-a-Lago never materialized. He told NBC News in December, "it’s a bit embarrassing" that a group of eight top congressional leaders was never looped in on the scope of the classified material found at the resort. Part of the reason for the delay was various scheduling issues, though a briefing about it was also not a top priority for some members of the group.

Since the story involving Biden's documents broke Monday night, other Democrats have also defended the president.

In a statement Tuesday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said he applauded Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland for their handling of the situation.

"Unlike former President Donald Trump, who allegedly obstructed efforts to recover hundreds of classified documents, the handful of classified documents reportedly found at the Biden Center were immediately sent to the National Archives and President Biden is allowing the Justice Department to operate free of political interference," Durbin said. "And unlike Donald Trump’s Attorney General, Bill Barr, Merrick Garland is not acting like the President’s personal lawyer."

White House lawyer Richard Sauber said Monday that a "small number of documents" with classified markings that appear to be from the Obama administration were found days before the November midterm elections at a think tank in Washington tied to Biden, the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.

The documents were discovered in a locked closet by Biden’s attorneys as they prepared to vacate office space at the center.

A source familiar with the matter told NBC News that Biden only became aware of the classified documents being stored in his former office when he was informed by his lawyers they had discovered them. Garland has asked John R. Lausch, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, to review the matter.

This comes as Jack Smith, a special counsel appointed by the Department of Justice, is investigating Trump for his possession of classified material. Last August, FBI agents executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago and uncovered more than 100 documents with classification markings, including some that were marked top secret.