Some of the FBI-recovered documents from former President Donald Trump’s Florida home contained highly sensitive intelligence about Iran’s missile program as well as secret intelligence work directed at China.
According to The Washington Post, citing unnamed sources, the documents — if made accessible to others — could compromise special agents and their methods of gathering intelligence, as well as provoke retaliatory measures from nations that deem the U.S. a threat.
'Willful Retention' Of National Defense Info Violates Espionage Act
Recall on Aug. 8 when the FBI conducted a raid on Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate. Some 13,000 documents were retrieved from an unsecured storage room. Of the documents, 18 were marked top secret and 103 were classified.
In September, it was revealed one seized document contained details on the military defenses and nuclear capabilities of a foreign country, but no further details were available at that time.
Other documents are comprised of such closely guarded U.S. secrets that the information isn’t shared with most senior national security officials, according to a report.
The “exceptional sensitivity” of the documents that Trump removed from the White House is a serious issue for the former president, as the Justice Department weighs whether or not to press charges against Trump or others, former senior Justice Department official David Laufman told the Post.
“The exceptional sensitivity of these documents, and the reckless exposure of invaluable sources and methods of U.S. intelligence capabilities concerning these foreign adversaries, will certainly influence the Justice Department’s determination of whether to charge Mr. Trump or others with willful retention of national defense information under the Espionage Act,” he added.
Trump has a history of demonstrating little regard for classified documents. In 2019, he posted a classified picture of an Iranian missile launch facility to Twitter, later commenting to his advisors: "If you take out the classification that’s the sexy part."
In September, he boasted to Fox host Sean Hannity that he could declassify a document "even by thinking about it."
“There doesn’t have to be a process, as I understand it,” Trump said. “If you’re the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying it’s declassified. You’re the president. You make that decision... even by thinking about it. I declassified everything."