Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he and other Republicans will hold up President Biden’s nominees until the administration shares with Congress the classified documents seized at Biden’s Delaware home and Washington office and former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
Cotton vowed “there will be pain” until the Biden administration shows lawmakers what classified documents the president and former president held outside the proper security protocols and warned that Republicans could also hold up federal funding as leverage.
“The administration is stonewalling Congress on the classified documents present at President Trump’s residence and President Biden’s residence and office, which is totally unacceptable,” Cotton told reporters Wednesday.
“The members of the Intelligence Committee — for that matter, the members of Congress have an absolute right to this information so we can make an informed judgment about the risk, if any, these documents have posed to our national security by being improperly handled,” he said.
Cotton rejected the administration’s claims that the sensitive information can’t be shared with Congress while special counsels Jack Smith and Richard Hur are investigating Trump’s and Biden’s handling of the documents, calling it “a farce.”
“Until the administration stops stonewalling Congress, there will be pain as a consequence for them,” he declared.
“Whether it’s blocking nominees or withholding budgetary funds, Congress will impose pain on the administration until they provide these documents,” he said.
Cotton argued that Congress had access “to many sensitive documents” during former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into allegations that Russia colluded with Trump campaign advisers during the 2016 election.
“There’s no reason that standard shouldn’t apply now to the documents present at President Trump’s residence and President Biden’s residence and office,” he said.
“I’m prepared to refuse consent to fast-track any nominee from any department or agency and to take every step that I can on every committee on which I serve to impose consequences on the administration until they provide these documents,” he added.
Cotton said he also wanted to review the classified documents found at former Vice President Mike Pence’s Indiana home.
The Arkansas senator held up a group of U.S. attorney and U.S. marshal nominations last year to demand information from the Justice Department about why it didn’t do more to defend U.S. marshals who were being sued for their role in defending a federal courthouse in Portland, Ore. during the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests.
He lifted his holds in April after he felt confident Congress would get the answers he wanted.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Cotton’s latest threat to hold up Biden nominees is a replay of the same old “movie.”
“I’ve seen this movie before,” he said. “[He] held up the U.S. attorneys who were enforcing the law across America for a matter of weeks and months.”
“I’ve reached out to Sen. Warner this morning, I’m going to talk to him to see if there’s a way to satisfy Sen. Cotton’s concerns, which are shared by some people,” he added, referring to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.).
–Updated at 1:43 p.m.