Plattsburgh, NY — New York Rep. Elise Stefanik joined local leaders at the Clinton Community College to announce a plan to award 40 full-tuition scholarships to help grow the North Country’s workforce.
But questions following the event were focused more on the FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and items seized by the FBI.
“The problem we consistently see from the FBI is that they don’t want to answer questions from Congress, they don’t want to provide materials, and I sit on the House Intelligence Committee, the highest level of classification of any member of Congress,” said Stefanik. “They need to turn that information over so that Congress can assess whether they overstepped their bounds.”
The FBI did unseal the search warrant last week after a federal judge’s order that showed the bureau was looking into the former President for violating the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice, and the criminal handling of government records. Stefanik says it was a significant overreach by the FBI because of what they seized.
“When it comes to the information that was seized at Mar-a-Lago, it was unclassified material as well, including the president’s passports and photo albums. That’s significant overreach, and before we jump to conclusions let’s see the information. That’s why I’m calling for full transparency from the FBI to turn over those documents to the House Intelligence Committee so we can do a proper assessment.”
According to the property receipt, among the items seized were documents labeled “top secret” or “sensitive compartmentalized information” (SCI), which is one of the highest kinds of classification a document can get. Former President Trump claims that all of the documents he possessed were unclassified, which Presidents are allowed to do, but it has not been confirmed if all of the documents taken were properly unclassified before Trump left the White House.
The Department of Justice has opposed the release of the FBI affidavit, which was used to support the search warrant for the Mar-a-Lago residence.
Stefanik also raised locally-focused concerns about the FBI, including its handling of the investigation into the 2018 limousine crash that killed 20 people in Schoharie, NY, and about FBI Director Christopher Wray’s recent use of a government plane to travel to his Adirondack vacation home.
“Another issue that is important for the FBI to respond to and it impacts this district is that the director of the FBI is utilizing the FBI counterterrorism aircraft to vacation in Saranac Lake. We need to make sure that’s not an abuse of taxpayer dollars, the FBI has said it’s not, but we need that documentation.”
Fox News recently asked the FBI about Director Wray’s use of a government aircraft for personal use. In a statement, the FBI said Director Wray is following regulations “governing the use of aircraft”, including reimbursement for personal travel.
Stefanik was also asked about Amtrak’s Adirondack Line not being reopened, which she said she’s hopeful will be open by the end of the year. While Stefanik is running unopposed in the Republican Primary, she says she is disappointed that there has not been a debate between Matt Castelli and Matt Putorti on the Democratic side. Each candidate has said they were not given the opportunity to debate by outlets that traditionally hold those debates.