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Weeks before Mar-a-Lago search, ex-Trump DOD official vowed to publish classified documents from National Archives

John Roca/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- In June of this year, seven weeks before the FBI raided former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in search of classified materials, former Defense Department appointee and outspoken Trump loyalist Kash Patel vowed to retrieve classified documents from the National Archives and publish them on his website.

Trump had just issued a letter instructing the National Archives to grant Patel and conservative journalist John Solomon access to nonpublic administration records, according to reporting at the time.

Patel, who under Trump had been the chief of staff for the acting defense secretary, claimed in a string of interviews that Trump had declassified a trove of "Russiagate documents" in the final days of his administration. But Patel claimed Trump's White House counsel had blocked the release of those documents, and instead had them delivered to the National Archives.

"I've never told anyone this because it just happened," Patel said in an interview on a pro-Trump podcast on June 22. "I'm going to identify every single document that they blocked from being declassified at the National Archives, and we're going to start putting that information out next week."

Patel did not provide a clear explanation of how he would legally or practically obtain the documents.

"White House counsel and company disobeyed a presidential order and implemented federal governmental bureaucracy on the way out to basically send the stash to the National Archives, and now that's where it's at," Patel said in a subsequent interview on June 23 on a different pro-Trump internet show.

Trump and his allies have for years pushed aggressively to declassify materials related to the FBI's "Crossfire Hurricane" investigation that examined alleged ties between Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and Russia -- a probe that was later put under the control of Robert Mueller following his appointment as special counsel. Patel, who previously served under then-Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) during Nunes' time as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has claimed that nonpublic information provided to Congress undercut the Russia probe and helped support Trump's claim that the investigation lacked merit.

The day before he left office, Trump authorized the declassification of a set of documents related to the Russia probe. The memorandum, released in January 2021, acknowledged that "portions of the documents in the binder have remained classified and have not been released to the Congress or the public."

So according to Patel, Trump asked him to work on retrieving the classified documents from the National Archives and then release them to the public. "President Trump was like, 'Who knows those documents better than anyone?' And I was like, 'If you want me to go, I'll go,'" Patel said.

"I know what's there" in the Archives, said Patel. "I can't still talk about them, but the whole process is going to be: Identify the documents, whether it's Russiagate, Hunter Biden, impeachment, Jan 6th -- and put them out."

Erica Knight, a spokesperson for Patel, told ABC News that Patel was acting as "a representative on behalf of President Trump to work with the National Archives to get them to disclose information."

"The GSA has their own policies and procedures for how presidential records must be handled, which Patel is in full cooperation with," Knight said of the federal government's General Services Administration, an adjunct of the National Archives.

Patel's comments claiming that Trump had directed him to retrieve classified documents came in the middle of the former president's growing dispute with National Archives officials. By June, the National Archives had asked the Justice Department to investigate the former president's handling of White House records, after National Archives officials had in January retrieved 15 boxes of records that had been improperly taken to Trump's home in violation of the Presidential Records Act.

And while Patel has said the former president said to declassify "a mountain of documents," experts say there are protocols in place to ensure that national security is not harmed when information is declassified -- even by the president.

"[Patel] is lashing out at the bureaucracy, but it's that bureaucracy and those protocols that are in place to prevent damage to our national security by an inappropriate disclosure of national security information," said John Cohen, a former Department of Homeland Security official who is now an ABC News contributor.

"I can't stress how important those protocols are," Cohen said. "For everyone who has a clearance, it is ingrained in your brain that even an inadvertent disclosure of top secret information could cause great harm to national security."

According to Patel, the plan in June was to retrieve the documents from the National Archives and publish them on his website "for free," then "make a big announcement every time" a new document was published.

Patel, a former GOP congressional aide who worked on Trump's National Security Council before joining the Pentagon, was also involved in security preparations for the Jan. 6 counting of the electoral vote on Capitol Hill, according to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, citing records obtained from the Defense Department.

Last September, the Jan. 6 committee issued subpoenas to four former senior Trump administration officials, including Patel, who appeared before the committee for several hours in December.

This past April, Patel was brought on as a member of the board of directors for the former president's media company, Trump Media & Technology Group, which launched the "Truth Social" platform in February. Patel also published a pro-Trump children's book titled "The Plot Against the King."

As of last month, Patel was still pursuing his plan to publish documents currently in the National Archives.

"Now we're in this fight," Petal told conservative commentator Benny Johnson in a July 4 interview. "I'm working on it. And of course, the bureaucracy is getting in the way, but that's not going to stop us."

"I will be going to the National Archives in the coming weeks, I will be identifying those documents," he said.

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Prosecutor sues Florida governor over suspension, says 1st Amendment rights violated

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(WASHINGTON) -- The Florida state attorney who was suspended by Gov. Ron DeSantis this month sued the governor on Wednesday, claiming his removal from office violated his First Amendment rights.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court, alleges the Republican governor retaliated against Andrew Warren, the Hillsborough County state attorney, for siding with progressive prosecutors who vowed not to prosecute crimes related to abortion and gender-transition treatments for children.

Warren, a Democrat, has called the suspension "political theater" and has claimed DeSantis suspended him to advance his own career.

Warren's legal team filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. They hope a judge will rule to reinstate the twice-elected state attorney, who is the top prosecutor in the Tampa Bay area.

"I have the same first amendment right that everybody else in Florida does," Warren said at a press conference in Tallahassee on Wednesday morning, adding that the governor's decision amounted to an abuse of power.

Jean Jaques Cabou, a lawyer for Warren, said at the press conference that the governor had no grounds to oust Warren. He said DeSantis took his client out of office "because of policy differences [and] because the governor would like to do his job differently than Mr. Warren wants to do his job."

"Those are not bases for which the governor can suspend Warren," Cabou added.

DeSantis did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment on the lawsuit. After he suspended Warren on Aug. 4, the governor said in a statement that "state attorneys have a duty to prosecute crimes as defined in Florida law, not to pick and choose which laws to enforce based on his personal agenda."

The governor also touted his decision to remove Warren from office while on the campaign trail this week.

"Out of 20 elected prosecutors, we found one who decided to put himself above the law, saying he didn't have to enforce laws that he disagreed with," he said during a speech in Carlsbad, New Mexico, on Sunday.

Warren has signed two joint statements pledging not to prosecute crimes related to abortion and gender-transition treatments for children. By doing so, DeSantis claims, Warren has neglected his duty and demonstrated incompetence.

DeSantis signed a law in April that bans abortions in Florida after a 15-week gestation period. The law went into effect on July 1, a week after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Florida health care providers last week filed a notice of appeal with the state Supreme Court challenging the abortion law. The plaintiffs argue the law violates the state constitution.

There is currently no law in Florida that criminalizes gender-related treatment for minors, although some state legislators have pushed for one. The state's Agency for Health Care Administration recently passed a rule barring transgender residents from using Medicaid to pay for gender-affirming care.

The governor says Warren's decision to sign the joint statements, coupled with other decisions Warren has made in his two terms as a state attorney, are sufficient under the Florida Constitution for suspension.

Cabou argues that it's up to the court to decide whether Warren's statements meet the criteria for a suspension.

"Just because the governor calls something neglect of duty or the government calls something incompetence doesn't make it true," he said.

Scott Stephens, a Florida constitutional law professor and former Hillsborough County circuit judge, told ABC News the court will decide whether Warren's decision to sign the two letters can be used as evidence that he neglected his duty or is incompetent.

Under Florida law, Warren has the right to a hearing before the state senate to decide whether his suspension was constitutional.

Debbie Brown, the secretary of the Republican-controlled body, sent Warren a letter on Monday to initiate the process for a hearing.

This process is now on hold due to Wednesday's filing.

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Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp files motion to delay testifying in Fulton County election probe

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(ATLANTA) -- Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp filed a motion on Wednesday looking to delay a subpoena for his testimony in front of the special grand jury as part of the ongoing criminal investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Fulton County.

In the 121-page motion, Kemp's legal team pushed back on the subpoena, claiming Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis "engineered the Governor's interaction with the investigation to reach a crescendo in the middle of an election cycle."

In a statement to ABC News, a spokesperson for Kemp noted the proximity to the November midterm elections.

"For more than a year, the Governor's team has continually expressed his desire to provide a full accounting of his very limited role in the issues being looked at by the special grand jury," said Katie Byrd, Kemp's communications director. "We are now just weeks away from the 2022 general election, making it increasingly difficult to dedicate the time necessary to prepare and then appear."

Kemp's office said they are asking the judge "to allow the Governor to come in after the November election and direct investigators to work with our legal team to ensure the topics discussed during his appearance remain on his defense of state law and the Constitution in the aftermath of the 2020 election."

Kemp is currently slated to testify before the special grand jury on Thursday. The Georgia governor is running for reelection against Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams, who lost her bid against Kemp in 2018.

The motion from Kemp follows the news that former President Donald Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was informed that he is a target of the investigation. Giuliani testified before the special grand jury in Atlanta on Wednesday.

The special grand jury does not have the ability to return an indictment, and can only make recommendations concerning criminal prosecution -- a process that's expected to take months.

Another grand jury would be needed in order to bring any possible charges.

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Who is Harriet Hageman, the Trump-backed candidate who beat Liz Cheney?

Alex Wong/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- In many ways, Tuesday's GOP primary battle for Wyoming's at-large congressional seat was a war -- by proxy -- between former President Donald Trump and someone he deems disloyal.

But the former president's hand-picked choice to take on Trump's harshest GOP critic -- Rep. Liz Cheney -- is especially noteworthy for earning Trump's backing after also once denouncing him.

Former Cheney adviser and never-Trumper Harriet Hageman has won the endorsement of the man she called "the weakest candidate" in 2016, joining other Republicans in attempting to undermine his nomination at that year's Republican national convention.

On Tuesday, as expected, the natural resources attorney who ran an unsuccessful primary bid for Wyoming's Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2018 clinched her race against longstanding Wyoming political royalty in one of the most watched races in the nation, an indication of how strongly voters turn out around Trump's unsubstantiated claims of election fraud -- in a state he won with some 70% in 2020.

Previously called Trump 'racist and xenophobic'

Trump's memory is short when it comes to endorsing candidates who have flip-flopped from being critical of him to becoming stark defenders. Hageman is no different. In 2016, she condemned Trump as a "racist and xenophobic" candidate who would repel voters Republicans needed to win a national election.

She backed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for the Republican presidential nomination, joining with other Cruz supporters at the GOP convention in Cleveland -- when she was a Wyoming delegate -- to force a vote on the floor to block Trump's ascension. Cheney supported Trump's 2016 campaign.

Hageman has not publicly addressed those efforts, but has briefly mentioned her past opposition to Trump, telling the New York Times in 2021 that she "heard and believed the lies the Democrats and Liz Cheney's friends in the media were telling at the time."

"But that is ancient history as I quickly realized that their allegations against President Trump were untrue," Hageman said.

"He was the greatest president of my lifetime, and I am proud to have been able to renominate him in 2020. And I'm proud to strongly support him today."

Hageman earned Trump's backing after Cheney, along with nine other GOP House members, voted to impeach him.

A long history as an anti-conservationist

The daughter of a longtime Wyoming state legislator, Hageman, 59, was born and raised on a small ranch outside Fort Laramie, Wyoming. She's married to Cheyenne-based malpractice attorney John Sundhal.

After earning a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Wyoming and a juris doctor degree from the University of Wyoming College of Law, she worked as a law clerk for federal appeals judge before building a decades-long career as a water and natural resources lawyer throughout Wyoming, Nebraska and Colorado.

Hageman has long sparred with environmentalists over her anti-conservation record, a background that earned her the title "Wicked Witch of the West" -- something she embraced. She became known in Wyoming for suing federal agencies over land use decisions and a successful battle to end a Clinton-era policy to halt road construction on millions of acres of federal land.

She claims to have "stopped the EPA from seizing control of our irrigation infrastructure and operations," and prevented the USDA from enforcing the registration of all ranches with the federal government.

"I have been fighting back against Federal agencies that try to usurp our rights with overbearing regulations. I've never allowed my Conservative values to be shaken in the face of Left-Wing ideologues," she has written on her website.

Her political career began with her campaign for governor in the 2018 election -- a race in which her past as a natural resources attorney influenced her attempts to win the Republican nomination.

When campaigning, Hageman was vocal in her support for transferring control of public lands to states, which caused blowback in Wyoming's robust hunting, outdoor recreation and conservation communities. The Wyoming Hunters and Anglers Alliance, then a rising hunting and public lands advocacy group, endorsed Hageman's then-opponent and current Wyoming GOP Gov. Mark Gordon, because of her views on public land transfer, according to High Country News.​

If Hageman beats Cheney and scores a general election victory in November, she'd likely aim for a position on a House Committee with jurisdiction over energy development on public lands and wildlife. And if successful, she could continue to push back against conservation efforts and possibly dismantle provisions established by the EPA, Fish & Wildlife Service, Forestry Service, and the Dept. of Agriculture -- something she has spoken proudly about on previous podcasts and at rallies.

But before her failed gubernatorial bid, Hageman served as an adviser to Cheney's short-lived 2014 Senate campaign. She then endorsed and stumped for Cheney's 2016 congressional campaign.

Voters embraced Hageman, despite her past

Trouble loomed for Cheney, who trailed Hageman by 29 points in a University of Wyoming poll released this week.

Outside an early voting site in Jackson, Wyoming, on Monday, Horton Spitzer -- a retired rancher and staunch Trump supporter -- after voting for Hageman, said he believes Cheney's political career is over.

"There's a visceral hatred. And this is gonna drive people to the polls. The code of the West says ride for the brand. If you don't you then take your saddle, take your cowdog, walk into the sunset and never come back," he said.

Hageman's flip-flopping in first opposing then supporting Trump means little to many GOP voters ABC News spoke with as the election grew near.

"Cheney represented herself as a total as a conservative. Well, I think she is totally a RINO," said Wyoming GOP voter Fred Skorcz.

"In fact, the Republican Party has pretty much ousted her. And Harriet seems to be a true conservative. She's multi-generation from Wyoming. She knows the issues. She knows the people. And I think that she would do everything she can to help our state and not just the state, but the country as well."

Cheney's agreement score with Trump was very high, 93% better than several of her critics, including that of Rep. Elise Stefanik, the New York Republican who ousted her as the No. 3 House Republican, professor Jim King of the University of Wyoming told ABC News.

But Cheney turning on Trump is something voters couldn't seem to overlook in this contest.

"I did vote for Liz in the last elections that she ran for. And at that time, I was very happy with what she was doing. But I just don't think that she cares about Wyoming. I think she cares more about what she's doing in Washington," said another Hageman voter outside an early voting site in Jackson, Wyoming, on Monday.

"There was a time that I told her that I would vote for her for president. I rescind that with a vengeance."

If Cheney is able to eek out a primary win Tuesday, it will be in large part because of efforts to persuade Wyoming Democrats to temporarily change their voter registration status and cast their ballots for her -- a trend many forecasters say won't be enough of the vote to make a critical difference.

"I was Republican until about '80 till about '94. And then I was a Democrat until today," said Prichard, a Cheney voter in Jackson.

"The Republican Party is going a little too far to the right. And, you know, it seems it's pretty scary situation, the way they sort of twist the facts and make up things and I just felt like [Cheney] was the one who was standing up for her, her beliefs and I have to go along with her on that."

ABC News' Brittany Shepherd, Lalee Ibssa and Tracy Wholf contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Mike Pence tells Republicans to stop attacking the FBI after Mar-a-Lago search

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(WASHINGTON) -- Former Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday castigated Republicans who are attacking the FBI after the agency searched Donald Trump's residence in Florida.

The Aug. 8 search at Mar-a-Lago, which sources told ABC News is tied to the former president's alleged mishandling of classified documents and other White House records, has Republicans railing against the federal law enforcement agency as well as the Department of Justice.

Rep. Elise Stefanik, the number 3 House Republican, said the search was "a complete abuse and overreach of its authority." Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., is calling to defund the FBI. Trump himself has consistently assailed the FBI and Department of Justice, calling the raid "an assault on a political opponent at a level never seen before in our Country. Third World!"

The FBI has warned about rising threats against law enforcement since the search. A joint intelligence bulletin obtained by ABC News said there has been an "increase in threats and acts of violence" against law enforcement and government personnel in response to what occurred at Mar-a-Lago.

Last week, a man armed with AR-15 style rifle allegedly tried to break into an FBI field office in Cincinnati and later was shot dead by police. Law enforcement officials said they were investigating the suspect's social media posts, which included calls for violence in the days after the raid.

Speaking at a political event in Manchester, New Hampshire on Wednesday, Pence said the criticisms coming from members of his own party have to end.

"The Republican Party is the party of law and order," Pence said. "And these attacks on the FBI must stop; calls to defund the FBI are just as wrong as calls to defund the police."

Pence said he was "deeply troubled" to learn that a search warrant was executed at Trump's estate but said the party can still hold Attorney General Merrick Garland accountable "without attacking the rank-and-file law enforcement personnel at the FBI."

"The truth of the matter is, we need to get to the bottom of what happened," Pence continued. "We need to let the facts play out, but more than anything else, the American people need to be reassured in the integrity of our justice system and the very appearance of a recurrence of politics playing a role in decisions that the Justice Department demands transparency as never before."

The vice president said he will continue to urge Attorney General Merrick Garland to make such information available to the public.

Trump and his allies want the search warrant affidavit to be released but the Department of Justice said doing so would jeopardize the integrity of the ongoing investigation.

A hearing is scheduled for Thursday on the request from multiple media outlets, ABC News included, to unseal the affidavit.

Pence also commented on the work of the Jan. 6 committee at the "Politics & Eggs" breakfast at St. Anselm College. The former vice president stating he would consider testifying if asked. Sources have told ABC News that committee investigators have been privately engaging with Pence's lawyer about securing his potential testimony for months.

"Any formal invitation rendered to us, we'd give it due consideration. But my first obligation is to continue to uphold my oath, continue to uphold this framework of government enshrined in the Constitution, this created the greatest nation in the history of the world," he said.

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Liz Cheney teases presidential run, will form anti-Trump effort

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(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Liz Cheney is looking to turn her landslide loss in Wyoming's Republican primary Tuesday night into a nationwide crusade to keep Donald Trump out of the White House -- one she said Wednesday could include her running for president herself.

Despite her six-year tenure in Congress now headed to a close, Cheney said her political work isn't done yet and is previewing what's to come next -- including a potential run for the presidency and an organization aimed at taking down Trump in 2024.

Cheney's first hint at a presidential campaign came in her concession speech, in which she invoked President Abraham Lincoln as an example of patriotism and a champion of the Republican Party.

"The great and original champion of our party, Abraham Lincoln, was defeated in elections for the Senate and the House before he won the most important election of all," she told her supporters on Tuesday night. "Lincoln ultimately prevailed, he saved our Union and he defined our obligation as Americans for all of history."

Cheney, once a rising Republican star, was soundly defeated by Trump-backed Harriet Hageman. Cheney said Tuesday she could have won another term but only if she accepted Trump's lies about the 2020 election.

As vice-chair of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Cheney has become one of the party's most outspoken critics of the former president.

"It would have required that I enable his ongoing efforts to unravel our democratic system and attack the foundations of our republic -- that was a path I could not and would not take," she said as she addressed her supporters on Tuesday night.

Cheney made a more direct indication she's thinking about running for the White House on Wednesday morning.

"I'm not going to make any announcements here this morning, but it is something that I am thinking about and I'll make a decision in the coming months," Cheney told NBC's "Today" program on Wednesday.

In the meantime, her focus will be on stopping Trump.

"In coming weeks, Liz will be launching an organization to educate the American people about the ongoing threat to our Republic, and to mobilize a unified effort to oppose any Donald Trump campaign for president," Cheney spokesperson Jeremy Adler told ABC News.

The news of the anti-Trump group was first reported by Politico.

Trump has yet to formally announce a campaign but has repeatedly hinted at a comeback since the day he left office. Most recently, he told Fox News at CPAC that the "the time is coming" for a formal announcement.

Trump took a victory lap as Cheney was defeated on Tuesday night, calling Hageman's win "great and very decisive."

"This is a wonderful result for America, and a complete rebuke of the Unselect Committee of political Hacks and Thugs," Trump posted to Truth Social. "Liz Cheney should be ashamed of herself, the way she acted, and her spiteful, sanctimonious words and actions towards others. Now she can finally disappear into the depths of political oblivion where, I am sure, she will be much happier than she is right now."

His criticism of Cheney continued in another post on Wednesday.

"The Fake News Media is claiming that Liz Cheney has such a 'wonderful and bright' political future. Maybe they didn't notice that she lost by nearly 40 points? She's too angry and sick to succeed in the future, but who knows!" he wrote on the conservative social media site.

ABC News' Will Steakin contributed to this report.

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Trump-backed election denier wins GOP nod to be Wyoming secretary of state

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(WASHINGTON) -- Wyoming's Republican voters got one step closer to picking their secretary of state on Tuesday in a primary matchup of candidates with opposing views on the 2020 election.

ABC News reports that state Rep. Chuck Gray is projected to win the Republican nomination for secretary of state.

Gray, who is endorsed by Donald Trump, claimed the 2020 race was "illegitimate." He faced state Sen. Tara Nethercott, who has said that she believes the 2020 election was secure; and geologist Mark Armstrong.

Gray also supported the former president after the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, tweeting: "This is political persecution!"

There were no listed Democrats on Tuesday seeking the party's nomination to be secretary of state, though voters could submit write-ins.

The winner of November's general election will succeed Ed Buchanan, who is retiring and has himself defended the legitimacy of the 2020 election.

While Wyoming is not a competitive state at the presidential level, the race marks another example of election deniers running for a position that would involve overseeing elections.

The secretary of state is also first in line to the governorship, since Wyoming does not have a lieutenant governor.

ABC News' Alina Kim contributed to this report.

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Despite Trump's claims, experts say there's no 'magic wand' for a president to declassify documents

FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- Former President Donald Trump isn't the first White House veteran to claim -- in the midst of a criminal probe looking at their handling of government secrets -- that the president can declassify almost anything he wants, whenever he wants, and however he wants.

"If the president says to talk about [a] document, it is then a declassified document," the former chief of staff to then-Vice President Dick Cheney, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, told a federal grand jury in 2004. "There's no ... process, according to counsel, that has to be gone through."

At the time, federal investigators were looking into the leak of the identity of a covert CIA operative -- but they were also interested in learning more about how parts of a classified document summarizing Iraq's purported efforts to obtain weapons of mass destruction in Africa had also become public.

Libby admitted to investigators that he "showed" portions of the Iraq document to a New York Times reporter, but he insisted that then-President George W. Bush "had already declassified" those portions by granting permission for Libby to share them with the press.

When transcripts of Libby's testimony were later released, it sparked a public debate over how presidents can -- and should -- wield their declassification authority.

"When the president determines that classified information can be made public ... can that supplant the declassification process?" a reporter asked White House spokesperson Scott McClellan on April 7, 2006. "Is it de facto declassified, by that determination?"

"The president is authorized to declassify information as he chooses," McClellan responded, without offering additional details.

A rigorous review

Nearly two decades later, after FBI agents last week executed a search warrant at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate and removed several sets of classified documents, there is still little clarification on what a president must do -- if anything -- before a government secret he wants to release is no longer deemed classified.

For most government employees who seek to have information declassified, their requests must go through a rigorous review process that can span the entire U.S. intelligence community, in order to ensure that sources, methods and other national security interests are protected. "[But] there's no formal process that a president is required to follow when declassifying information," Brian Greer, a former CIA attorney who specialized in classification issues, told ABC News.

Nevertheless, Greer noted, "there has to be evidence that a declassification order occurred." And in Trump's case, "the Trump team has yet to produce any credible evidence," he said.

In January, National Archives officials retrieved 15 boxes of records that had been improperly taken to Mar-a-Lago when Trump left the White House last year -- then, two months ago, federal agents visited Mar-a-Lago to retrieve additional materials that they believed Trump had failed to turn over. Shortly after that visit, an attorney for Trump signed a statement saying that all classified documents at Mar-a-Lago had been turned over to federal investigators, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News. But authorities believed Trump continued to possess classified documents, leading to last week's raid.

It's unclear exactly what records were recovered from Trump's residence last week, but court documents filed by the Justice Department indicate that it is investigating, among other things, potential violations of the Espionage Act, which makes it a crime to disclose sensitive national security information that could harm the United States -- even if it's not classified.

After the raid, Trump's team issued a statement to one media outlet claiming that, while still in office, Trump had issued "a standing order that documents removed from the Oval Office and taken to the residence were deemed to be declassified the moment he removed them." On social media, Trump himself insisted that the documents at Mar-a-Lago were "all declassified."

"The president is the ultimate classifier and de-classifier -- but he can't just wave a magic wand, and he can't do it in secret," said Douglas London, a 34-year CIA veteran and author of the "The Recruiter: Spying and the Lost Art of American Intelligence."

"So if [Trump] and his allies are defending his handling of these documents by claiming that they're no longer classified, they need to show the paper trail," London said.

'Nothing short of laughable'

Jeh Johnson, who served as the Defense Department's top lawyer before becoming Homeland Security secretary under the Obama administration, agreed in a piece he published for Lawfare.

"[P]art and parcel of any act of declassification is communicating that act to all others who possess the same information, across all federal agencies," Johnson wrote. "This point holds true regardless of whether the information exists in a document, an email, a power point presentation, and even in a government official's mental awareness. Otherwise, what would be the point of a legitimate declassification?"

Accordingly, Johnson said, the Trump team's claim of a "standing order" that all documents taken to Trump's residence were therefore "declassified" is "nothing short of laughable."

In Libby's case, no information was publicly released confirming that Bush had given Libby permission to share classified information with a reporter -- but at the time, the Bush administration was looking to release the information more broadly, and had initiated an inter-agency review to declassify it.

Amid growing questions over the unfolding war in Iraq, Bush and his allies wanted to bolster their previous claims that Iraq's regime had looked to acquire weapons of mass destruction in Africa. Those claims had come under intense scrutiny at the time after the former ambassador sent to investigate Iraq's alleged efforts, Joe Wilson, publicly disclosed that he found no evidence to support the Bush administration's claims and accused U.S. officials of exaggerating intelligence.

"And so the vice president thought we should get some of these facts out to the press," Libby testified to the grand jury. "But before it could be done, the document [summarizing the intelligence community's conclusions] had to be declassified."

Libby said Vice President Cheney "then undertook to get permission from the president to talk about this to a reporter. He got the permission. Told me to go off and talk to the reporter."

'In the public interest'

Ten days after Libby's meeting with the New York Times reporter, the U.S. government publicly released the document, known as a National Intelligence Estimate.

"What do you say to critics who argue that the president's decision to disclose this information, to effectively declassify it ... [was] a political use of intelligence information?" a reporter asked McClellan, the White House spokesperson, after the document was released.

"It was in the public interest that this information be provided," McClellan insisted.

Libby was ultimately charged -- and convicted -- of something else: lying to the grand jury and federal investigators about his role in leaking the identity of Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, who was a covert CIA operative. Libby was sentenced to more than two years in federal prison, but his sentence was commuted by Bush in 2007, before Bush left office.

He was then fully pardoned by Trump in 2018.

ABC News' Alex Mallin and Will Steakin contributed to this report.

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Pence says he'd consider testifying before Jan. 6 committee if asked

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(MANCHESTER, N.H.) -- Former Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday he'd consider testifying before the House Jan. 6 committee if asked, in some of his most specific comments yet on the prospect.

Appearing at a "Politics & Eggs" breakfast in Manchester, New Hampshire, where presidential hopefuls often speak since the state holds the nation's first primary, Pence was asked if he'd be "agreeable" if the committee were to call on him to testify.

"If there was an invitation to participate, I would consider it," Pence responded.

"But you've heard me mention the Constitution a few times this morning. In the Constitution there are three co-equal branches of government, and any invitation that would be directed to me I'd have to reflect on the unique role I served as vice president."

"Any formal invitation rendered to us, we'd give it due consideration. But my first obligation is to continue to uphold my oath, continue to uphold this framework of government enshrined in the Constitution, this created the greatest nation in the history of the world," he continued.

Pence's answer was yet another break from his former boss, Donald Trump, who has repeatedly slammed the committee's work as politically motivated.

Committee investigators have for months been privately engaging with Pence's lawyer about securing his potential testimony, sources have told ABC News.

Pence has largely avoided discussing the work of the Jan. 6 committee despite being cheered by the its members for resisting Trump's demands. In June, he told Fox News Democrats were using the panel to "distract attention from their failed agenda."

The focus of one of the committee's hearings zeroed in on the pressure campaign on Pence, waged by Trump and his allies to attempt to get him to support their effort to overturn the election.

Members of the committee have said a subpoena for Pence's testimony was not off the table, but have also indicated his testimony may not be necessary in filling any gaps given the committee interviewed Pence's former chief of staff Marc Short and had Pence's former counsel Greg Jacob testify publicly.

The committee also aired a never-before-seen photograph of a phone call between Trump and Pence on the morning of Jan. 6, 2021, that onlookers, including Ivanka Trump, described as "heated."

Hours later, when the joint session of Congress resumed after the attack, Pence rejected Trump's last-ditch demands to unilaterally reject Joe Biden's electoral victory.

The committee also revealed that the mob came within 40 feet of the vice president, who was ushered to an underground location for hours as the violence unfolded. Jacob said in his appearance before the committee that Pence stayed in the area so as to "not to take any chance that the world would see the vice president of the United States fleeing the United States Capitol."

Jacob also testified that Trump didn't check on Pence at all during that time, which he said left Pence frustrated.

Pence and Trump haven't spoken in over a year, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News in June.

The House Jan. 6 committee, made up of nine Democrats and two Republicans, held eight public hearings this summer to reveal the findings of their year-long probe into the events before, during and after the U.S. Capitol attack.

Trump, they argued, was at the center of the attack. He was well-aware of the fact that he lost the 2020 election, members said, but moved ahead anyway with a pressure campaign against federal and local officials to illegally overturn the results.

"Over the last month and a half, the Select Committee has told the story of a president who did everything in his power to overturn an election," Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said in the last public hearing on July 12. "He lied. He bullied. He betrayed his oath. He tried to destroy our democratic institutions. He summoned a mob to Washington."

The committee will next reconvene in September.

ABC News' Hannah Demissie contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Liz Cheney loses primary as Trump topples his most prominent GOP critic

SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., is projected to have lost her primary on Tuesday to Donald Trump-backed Harriet Hageman, ABC News reports, after Cheney built her political profile -- and her campaign -- around criticizing the former president as an existential threat to American democracy.

Cheney's defeat was largely expected, given the partisan makeup of her seat and polling that showed her trailing Hageman. Trump won Wyoming in the last presidential election with some 70% of the vote. Still, Cheney's defeat marks Trump's biggest win in his revenge tour against intraparty detractors and a warning sign for other anti-Trump Republicans thinking of crossing him.

"Tonight, Harriet Hageman has received the most votes in this primary. She won. I called her to concede the race. This primary election is over," Cheney said in a speech Tuesday night from a ranch in Jackson, contrasting that call with Trump, who still refuses to concede the 2020 race.

The choice between Cheney and Hageman, both of whom staked out conservative policy platforms, played out largely along national themes and loyalty to Trump.

Cheney focused on criticizing Trump over his role in last year's deadly Capitol insurrection, casting her reelection bid as a fight to maintain the GOP's principles.

Hageman, meanwhile, echoed Trump's unfounded election fraud claims and berated Cheney -- whom Hageman had previously advised -- as a lawmaker more focused on toppling the de facto GOP leader.

Cheney boasts a famous last name and significantly out-raised Hageman. But over time it became clear that the three-term lawmaker was the underdog as polls showed Wyoming Republicans increasingly favoring her opponent.

In a sign of Cheney's tenuous footing with members of her own party, her campaign started an outreach effort to voters to explain how they could change their party registration the day of the primary to vote for her -- though operatives said there was little hope there were enough Democrats to change Cheney's fate.

"Two years ago, I won this primary with 73% of the vote. I could easily have done the same again. The path was clear," Cheney said in her speech Tuesday. "But it would have required that I go along with President Trump's lie about the 2020 election. It would have required that I enable his ongoing efforts to unravel our democratic system and attack the foundations of our republic -- that was a path I could not and would not take."

"No House seat, no office in this land, is more important than the principles that we are all sworn to protect," she said. "And I well understood the potential political consequences of abiding by my duty."

Hageman now is expected to coast in the general election -- against projected Democratic opponent Lynnette Grey Bull -- in one of the country's reddest states and be a staunch Trump ally in the House.

"Absolutely the election was rigged. It was rigged to make sure that President Trump could not get reelected," she said at a campaign event earlier this month indicating her ideological alignment with Trump. "What happened in 2020 is a travesty."

Hageman on Tuesday touted her win over Cheney, describing it as returning Wyoming's House seat to the people.

"I will be accountable to the voters and citizens of Wyoming because I am one of you and, just like you, I am sick and tired of having no voice in the U.S. House of Representatives," she said. "Today we have succeeded at what we set out to do -- we have reclaimed Wyoming's lone congressional seat for Wyoming."

"Assume that if we put you in power, you will be accountable to us and you will do what is in our best interest. And if you don't, we will fire you," she said.

Cheney's defeat marks a bookend to a meteoric rise and swift fall for an erstwhile GOP star.

She was first elected in 2016 and became the No. 3 Republican in the House in late 2018, a climb that fueled rumors she had an eye on the speakership one day.

However, after last year's insurrection, she became the highest-ranking House Republican to back impeaching Trump and ultimately became the vice chair of the special committee investigating the Capitol riot.

Her consistent condemnations of Trump infuriated both other House Republicans who accused her of derailing their messaging strategy and some voters in Wyoming who viewed Cheney as an absentee representative more focused on the former president than state issues.

Beyond her tough primary challenge, she also lost her leadership spot in the House and was censured by the Republican National Committee and the Wyoming Republican Party.

Still, Cheney refused to modulate her messaging -- given, she said, the danger Trump represented -- and indicated that she would continue her focus on combating election conspiracies even after her expected loss.

"Like many candidates across this country, my opponents in Wyoming have said that the 2020 election was rigged and stolen. No one who understands our nation's laws -- no one with an honest, honorable, genuine commitment to our Constitution -- would say that. It is a cancer that threatens our great Republic," she said in her closing ad. "If we do not condemn these lies, if we do not hold those responsible to account, we will be excusing this conduct and it will become a feature of all elections. America will never be the same."

All eyes now will be on what Cheney plans to do after leaving the House, with her hinting that "now the real work begins."

Speculation has bubbled that Cheney is eyeing a presidential bid in 2024 to challenge Trump, should he run again in two years, a theory that gained more ground in her concession speech in which she noted Abraham Lincoln's own failed House and Senate bids before he won the presidency.

"Lincoln ultimately prevailed, he saved our union, and he defined our obligation as Americans for all of history," she said.

Regardless of what form her advocacy takes, Cheney indicated that she will still hold candidates' feet to the fire over unproven claims of election fraud.

"Today, as we meet here, there are Republican candidates for governor who do deny the outcome of the 2020 election and who may refuse to certify future elections if they oppose the results," she said in her concession speech. "We have candidates for secretary of state who may refuse to report the actual results of the popular vote in future elections. And we have candidates for Congress, including here in Wyoming, who refuse to acknowledge that Joe Biden won the 2020 election and suggest that states decertify the result."

"No American should support election deniers for any position of genuine responsibility where their refusal to follow the rule of law will corrupt our future," she said.

Cheney's loss marks the end of a largely successful campaign by Trump to expel his impeachment-backers from the GOP, arguing they were not true Republicans.

Of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump last year, four decided to not seek reelection. Of the six who did, four have now lost their primaries. Only two of the 10 have advanced to the general election.

"Liz Cheney should be ashamed of herself, the way she acted, and her spiteful, sanctimonious words and actions towards others," Trump said on his Truth Social platform. "Now she can finally disappear into the depths of political oblivion where, I am sure, she will be much happier than she is right now."

ABC News' Miles Cohen, Lalee Ibssa, Allison Pecorin and Brittany Shepherd contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Sarah Palin projected to advance to the November general election

Dylan Hollingsworth/Bloomberg via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- Former Republican Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is projected to have clinched on Tuesday one of four spots in November’s general election for an open House seat, ABC News reports.

In the Alaska Top 4 House primary, ABC News can report that Palin, Republican Nick Begich, Democrat Mary Peltola and Republican Tara Sweeney are projected to advance to the November general election.

Political analysts mostly expected Palin, Peltola and Begich to advance, as all three are currently on the ballot for Alaska's special general election for the same House seat, which was held by the late Congressman Don Young, who passed away earlier this year. The special election will determine who finishes the remainder of Young's term, which ends next year. The general election in November will decide who will hold the seat starting in January.

Palin released a statement overnight on Alaska's use of rank-choice voting in the special general election for the state's only House seat.

She called the new voting system "crazy" and "convoluted," asking others to "learn from Alaska's mistake."

Rank-choice voting and a top-four primary were part of a ballot measure that Alaskans voted for and passed in 2020. The use of rank-choice voting is expected to delay the results of the special general election, with the winner expected to be determined on Aug. 31.

Palin received former President Donald Trump's endorsement two days after announcing her candidacy.

In 2008, Sen. John McCain named Palin his running mate while she was serving as Alaska’s governor. Palin resigned as governor a few months after their failed campaign, which Palin received criticism for as it was viewed that she was chasing her newfound celebrity following the 2008 election.

Palin's involvement in the Tea Party movement was a precursor for the ascension of Trump and the MAGA movement. Both movements tapped into the anger that voters felt during the Obama era. They used that anger to their advantage, speaking to the same audience and hitting the talking points those voters wanted to hear.

Nicholas Begich III is the Republican son of a Democratic dynasty. His grandfather, Democrat Rep. Nick Begich Sr., won the 1970 election for the at-large Congressional district. Rep. Don Young was later elected to fill that seat.

Begich Sr.’s sons include former US Senator Mark Begich and state Sen. Tom Begich. Both are Democrats.

Begich III describes himself as a “lifelong Republican,” having served as co-chair for the late Rep. Young’s campaign for reelection in 2020 and the Alaska Republican Party’s Finance Committee. He’s amassed many endorsements from former and current state officials, including Senate Majority Leader Shelley Hughes. According to campaign filings, Truman Reed, who led Rep. Young’s 2020 campaign, signed on as Begich’s campaign manager. His campaign has raised over $1.3 million, with $655,420.54 cash on hand.

Democrat Mary Peltola is an indigenous Yup-ik Alaskan and former member of the Alaska House of Representatives. As a state representative, she chaired the bipartisan Bush Caucus of rural legislators. In addition, Peltola served in the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission before leaving for her Congressional campaign.

Her campaign prioritizes climate change action, responsible resource development, and critical infrastructure development of airports, ferries, highways, and energy grids.

Sweeney secured the fourth spot in the primary to advance to the general election in November. During the Trump administration, Sweeney served as the assistant secretary of Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Murkowski projected to advance to November general election for US Senate in Alaska

Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/For The Washington Post via Getty Image

(NEW YORK) -- Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, is projected to have clinched a spot on Tuesday in the general election, ABC News reports, rebuffing an effort led by former President Donald Trump to unseat her.

Murkowski was among the top four vote-getters in Alaska's Senate primary, which lumped in candidates from all parties. The top four now head to a ranked-choice general election in November.

ABC News reports Murkowski, Republican Kelly Tshibaka and Democrat Patricia Chesbro are projected to advance to the November election. The fourth candidate is yet to be determined.

Murkowski was a top target for Trump, who has made this year's midterm cycle the lynchpin of his crusade to purge the GOP of any critics.

The Alaska senator was one of seven lawmakers in the upper chamber to convict Trump in his impeachment trial after last year's Capitol insurrection -- but she was the only one to do so while also standing for reelection this year.

To challenge Murkowski, Trump endorsed Kelly Tshibaka, Alaska’s former commissioner of administration. Tshibaka is a staunch ally of the former president, asserting that there are unanswered questions about the 2020 race which he baselessly claims was "stolen" from him.

Murkowski, though, is no electoral slouch and she has proven to be able to win under tough circumstances.

She famously lost the GOP Senate primary during the tea party wave in 2010 but won the general via a write-in campaign that taught Alaska voters how to correctly spell her name.

Since then, she has continued to burnish a moderate reputation in the Senate, bucking her party on issues like health care and abortion -- and voting to convict Trump in February 2021.

"Before someone assumes the office of the presidency, they are required to swear to faithfully execute the office of the President and to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. President Trump – the nation’s elected leader, the Commander in Chief of our armed forces – swore an oath to defend America and all that we hold sacred. He failed to uphold that oath," she said in a statement explaining her vote.

Alaska's new voting system, which was approved in a ballot initiative in 2020, has many observers uncertain of how the general election will shake out.

Voters will be able to rank the four candidates in order of preference. If a candidate wins an outright majority in first-place rankings, that person wins. Yet if nobody wins a majority, the candidate in last place is eliminated and their supporters' second choices are reallocated to the other candidates. The process continues until a single candidate gets a majority.

The system is expected to help Murkowski, given its emphasis on forming a coalition rather than relying solely on a base and Murkowski's appeal across ideological lines.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Biden signs sweeping health, climate and tax bill, a major win for his domestic agenda

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(WASHINGTON) -- President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed the Democrats' massive climate, health and tax bill into law, marking a major accomplishment for his domestic agenda less than three months before midterm elections.

Speaking from the White House State Dining Room, Biden touted the Inflation Reduction Act as "further proof that the soul of America is vibrant, the future of America is bright and the promise of America is real and just beginning."

"The American people won and the special interests lost," he said before swiping at Republicans for their unanimous opposition.

"That's the choice we face. We can protect the already powerful or show the courage to build a future where everybody has an even shot," Biden said.

Taking advantage of some political momentum, Biden interrupted his summer vacation for the signing just days after the House approved the measure, following Senate passage by just one vote amid some political drama. He has spent much of the past week in South Carolina. Biden arrived at the ceremony wearing a mask after spending his vacation with first lady Jill Biden, who has tested positive for COVID-19.

In attendance were two key negotiators: West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, whose surprise consent helped ensure Senate passage after he worked out a deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

"I am confident this bill will endure as one of the greatest legislative feats in decades. It'll lower costs, create millions of good paying jobs and is the boldest climate bill ever," Schumer, D-N.Y., said, speaking just before Biden.

After signing the bill, Biden handed one of pens he used to Manchin, who placed it in his pocket. Speaking to reporters outside the White House afterward, Manchin called it a "very nice gesture."

Manchin said he knew people were "upset" when he walked away from Biden's "Build Back Better" plan late last year and that he kept negotiations with Schumer on the Inflation Reduction Act under wraps because he didn't want "anyone to get disappointed again because I didn't think we could get there."

"But I truly believe that I've never seen a more balanced bill," Manchin said, adding that in different political atmosphere it would've been a bipartisan undertaking.

A larger celebration for the law is being planned for Sept. 6.

The White House also said that, "in the coming weeks," Biden will host a Cabinet meeting focused on implementing the new law and will also travel across the U.S. to promote it.

The Biden administration has planned a cross-country rollout campaign for the legislation, which aims to make prescription drugs and health insurance cheaper; invest in clean energy and curb climate change; raise taxes on the wealthy; and cut the deficit.

Starting this week through the end of August, Cabinet members plan to travel to 23 states, on more than 35 trips, to tout the "Inflation Reduction Act," according to the White House.

The administration also plans to roll out information online and on social media about the legislation's impact, and to collaborate with members of Congress to host hundreds of events, the White House said.

The blitz will highlight will highlight other major legislative wins as well as part of a "Building a Better America Tour."

In a memo the White House made public from Senior Adviser Anita Dunn and Deputy Chief of Staff Jen O'Malley Dillon to Chief of Staff Ron Klain, the administration plans to not only tout passage of the IRA, but also the CHIPS Act aimed at boosting the U.S. semi-conductor industry over China's and easing a pandemic-cause shortage, the bipartisan gun control bill and the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Ahead of Tuesday's signing, the White House on Monday put out what it said would be the Inflation Reduction Act's impact.

According to the White House, about 1.4 million Americans who are on Medicare who usually spending more than $2000 per year on prescription drugs will see their costs capped at that amount. Overall, it says, there are about 50 million Americans on Medicare Part D who are eligible for that cost cap.

The White House said there are about 3.3 million Americans on Medicare who use insulin, who will benefit from the new $35 monthly price cap.

The White House also estimates about 5-7 million Americans could see their prescription drug costs decrease once Medicare begins negotiating costs.

Lower Obamacare premiums will be extended for the 13 million Americans insured under that program, the White House said.

And the White House also claims greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by a billion metric tons in 2030 thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act.

ABC News' Sarah Kolinovsky and Justin Gomez contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Committee chairs threaten DHS inspector general with subpoena over missing Secret Service texts

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images, FILE

(WASHINGTON) -- The Democratic chairs of the House Homeland Security and House Oversight committees on Tuesday threatened the Department of Homeland Security inspector general with a subpoena, accusing him of delaying responding to the committee's request for answers regarding missing Secret Service text messages on and around the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

"If you continue to obstruct, we will have no choice but to consider alternate means to ensure compliance," Rep. Bennie Thompson and Rep. Carolyn Maloney, both Democrats, write to Joseph Cuffari in a letter dated Aug. 16.

This is the second letter they have jointly sent to the DHS IG requesting information, amid new allegations that career staff in Cuffari's office prepared a notice to Congress earlier this year about their difficulty obtaining Secret Service text messages connected to Jan. 6, but the notice was not included in the government watchdog's required regular report to lawmakers.

The DHS inspector general has been under scrutiny for his handling of the deleted Secret Service text messages on and around Jan. 6. He previously waited more than a year to notify the committee about the missing texts.

A Secret Service spokesman last month acknowledged text messages from Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, 2021, were deleted after being sought by the DHS inspector general.

A letter Cuffari sent last month to the heads of the House and Senate Homeland Security committees said the messages were deleted "as part of a device-replacement program," despite the inspector general having requesting such communications.

Guglielmi, the Secret Service spokesman, subsequently dismissed any "insinuation" the agents had "maliciously" deleted the texts.

The agency sent out communications to employees on how to upload digital files on their local devices if they are government records, according to a source familiar with the Secret Service migration process.

The letter sent by the committee chairs lays out how they say the inspector general might have violated the Inspector General Act.

"In response to the Committees' requests, you have refused to produce responsive documents and blocked employees in your office from appearing for transcribed interviews," the members write. "Your obstruction of the Committees' investigations is unacceptable, and your justifications for this noncompliance appear to reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of Congress's authority and your duties as an Inspector General."

The DHS IG has instructed the Secret Service to stop its internal investigation because his office has now turned the deleted text message issue into a criminal investigation, according to three sources familiar with the situation.

The congressional committees say Cuffari made no mention of the Secret Service's retention issues in the semi-annual report to lawmakers, despite knowing about them.

The inspector general's office has not responded to ABC News request for comment.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


First lady Jill Biden tests positive for COVID-19

Official White House Photo by Cameron Smith

(WASHINGTON) -- First lady Jill Biden has tested positive for COVID-19 while on vacation with the president and their family, according to her office.

Jill Biden tested negative on Monday during her routine testing, and then developed "cold-like symptoms" Monday night, according to her communications director, Elizabeth Alexander.

"She tested negative again on a rapid antigen test, but a PCR test came back positive," Alexander said in a statement Tuesday morning.

When President Joe Biden returned from vacation and arrived at Joint Base Andrews Tuesday afternoon, he told reporters that his wife is "feeling well."

"She has to quarantine, then she'll be home," he added.

Jill Biden, who is double vaccinated and twice boosted, has "mild symptoms," Alexander said.

Jill Biden been prescribed the antiviral treatment Paxlovid, which President Biden also took after testing positive last month.

President Biden first tested positive for COVID-19 on July 21, experiencing symptoms including a cough and sore throat. He isolated and completed a five-day course of Paxlovid before testing negative. He then experienced a rebound infection, testing positive again. On Aug. 6, the president's doctor said Biden had received a negative test and was clear to break his isolation.

President Biden, who had been vacationing with his wife and family in Kiawah Island, South Carolina, is considered a close contact and will mask while indoors for the next 10 days and when he's in close contact to others, according to the White House.

The president tested negative for COVID-19 Tuesday morning, and his testing will be increased in light of the first lady testing positive.

Jill Biden will isolate for at least five days. She'll remain "at a private residence in South Carolina and will return home after she receives two consecutive negative COVID tests," Alexander said.

Her close contacts have been notified, Alexander added.

ABC News' Molly Nagle and Sarah Kolinovsky contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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