‘Be conscious of the rules’ when handling classified docs

FBI Director Christopher Wray expressed disappointment on Thursday that officials with access to classified materials frequently mishandle the documents as he urged leaders to be “conscious of the rules.” 

“We have had, for quite a number of years, any number of mishandling investigations,” Wray admitted at a Justice Department press conference on Thursday. “That is unfortunately a regular part of our counterintelligence divisions’, counterintelligence programs’ work.”

“People need to be conscious of the rules regarding classified information and appropriate handling,” Wray added. “Those rules are there for a reason.”

Wray’s comments on the frequency of officials mishandling classified material come after White House National Security Council strategic communications coordinator John Kirby told reporters in a briefing on Wednesday that “everybody” knows the rules regarding the handling of classified documents.

“Everybody who goes into a SCIF knows what the requirements are to go in and knows what the requirements are to go out,” said Kirby.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray
Wray called out the mishandling of documents, urging people to be conscious of the rules in place, adding that, “Those rules are there for a reason.”
Jose Luis Magana/AP

 “We all know what the rules are. We follow the rules. And the procedures exist for a reason. And they’ve been developed over many, many years as the nature of classified material has changed, now down – to now include electronic capability. And so, we’re working at that very, very hard,” he added.

According to a report, the National Archives and Records Administration has requested past presidents and vice presidents scour their records for classified documents after sensitive material was found in recent months at the homes of President Biden, former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence.

This image contained in a court filing by the Department of Justice on Aug. 30, 2022, and redacted by in part by the FBI, shows a photo of documents seized during the Aug. 8 search by the FBI of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
A trove of classified documents were discovered at former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

The number of documents found in President Joe Biden's garage.
A number of classified documents were found in President Joe Biden’s garage.
Joe Biden

Letters from ​NARA were sent to representatives of presidential administrations going back to Ronald Reagan, CNN reported Thursday, asking them to make sure the former government executives are in compliance with the Presidential Records Act of 1978, which requires all presidential and vice presidential records to be turned over to the National Archives at the end of an administration.

“The responsibility to comply with the PRA does not diminish after the end of an administration,” the letter states​, according to the news outlet. “Therefore, we request that you conduct an assessment of any materials held outside of NARA that relate to the Administration for which you serve as a designated representative under the PRA, to determine whether bodies of materials previously assumed to be personal in nature might inadvertently contain Presidential or Vice Presidential records subject to the PRA, whether classified or unclassified​.” 

The office of former Vice President Mike Pence revealed earlier this week that he turned over two boxes of records with classified markings to the FBI after they were found at his Indiana home on Jan. 16. 

It’s the latest in a series of classified document scandals that has led the Justice Department to appoint special counsels to investigate the mishandling of highly sensitive papers by Biden, 80, and Trump, 76. 

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