The former national security advisor for President Clinton, Sandy Berger, claims he accidentally removed copies of some highly classified terrorism-related documents from the national archives last fall.
But Tuesday some republican lawmakers insinuated Berger smuggled the documents out for political purposes.
"There is a curious connection of the removal of these documents and the holding of the Kerry press conference attacking the president on the issue of port security," said Sen. Gordon Smith, republican, of Oregon.
Berger is an informal advisor to the Kerry campaign. He said his actions were a result of sloppiness.
"There is literally no way that Sandy Berger would intentionally do anything illegal or improper. There is certainly a way, because he's human, of making an honest mistake," said Lanny Davis, former Deputy White House Counsel to President Clinton.
Sources say workers at the national archives became suspicious when they saw Berger tucking papers into his clothing. When they confronted him, Berger returned some of the documents.
Sources say FBI agents found more documents in a search of Berger's home and offices.
"It is against the law for anyone to intentionally mishandle classified information," said James Comey, Deputy Attorney General.
The documents in question pertained to the Clinton administration's response to the Al Qaeda threat around the time of the millennium celebration.
Democrats Tuesday questioned why news of the Berger investigation was leaked just days before the 9/11 commission is set to release its final report, a report they expect to be critical of the Bush administration.
"I do think the timing is very curious, given this has been underway now for this long," said Sen. Tom Daschle, the democratic leader in the U.S. Senate.