Administration sources close to the investigation told ABC News the amount and sensitivity of confidential, secret and top secret documents allegedly uncovered in the Search Mar-a-Lago raise critical national security issues that need to be resolved urgently.
These officials say law enforcement and security officials must now try to track the chain of custody of the hardware and try to determine if any of the items have been compromised.
Officials acknowledged that these critical issues needed to be addressed because the material, in theory, would be of great value to foreign adversaries and even allies. Interviews with Trump administration officials are scheduled, and authorities may even check fingerprints to see if it gives any insight into who has had access.
The FBI warrant and inventory allege that 11 sets of sensitive information were retrieved while searching Mar-a-Lago — including confidential, secret and top-secret documents. There was even top secret Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) material. This classification of materials sometimes involves nuclear secrets and terrorist operations based on an overview of security protocols from the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), which ABC News reviewed.
Top-secret SCI documents are classified as national intelligence and involve information “about or from intelligence sources,” according to a document (DNI) reviewed for this report. This material may come from allies, espionage, eavesdropping, or informants.
Top secret SCI should only be handled under the strictest conditions and in designated secure locations. These places are supposed to be eavesdropping and no electronic devices are allowed. Only a select few are allowed to see SCI – for example, a “need to know duly authorized recipient”.
Why the concern? US officials know that these sensitive documents are targeted by enemy nations and other adversaries who constantly attempt to spy on and eavesdrop on activities here in the United States.
According to Executive Order No. 13526 signed by then-President Barack Obama in 2009.
Among the critical questions in the wake of the Mar-a-Lago raid are how critical documents were stored at the White House, and how come so many boxes containing such highly classified documents could have been withdrawn in the first place; who exactly was involved in authorizing the removal of the material and who removed the material; how the material was transported to Mar-a-Lago — by plane, by truck — and who had access to it during transport. Top secret material must have a specifically authorized transport, may not be sent by US mail, and may only be transmitted by an authorized government courier service. Other critical questions include: was the material stored at Mar-a-Lago, who had access to it and was it under constant surveillance by security cameras; and what the security measures and protocols were.
The Presidential Archives Act establishes that the Presidential Archives are automatically transferred to the legal custody of the Archivist as soon as the President leaves office.