White House officials privately express concern that classified information passed to Mar-a-Lago could endanger the intelligence community



CNN

White House officials have privately expressed deep concern over the slice of classified material taken from former president that of Donald Trump house in Florida, including some documents that are intended for viewing only in secure government facilities, CNN has learned.

As more information has emerged since FBI agents combed through the former president’s private residence, current administration officials are increasingly concerned about what Trump has taken. and whether that information – some located in a basement warehouse at Mar-a-Lago – could potentially endanger the sources and methods of the US intelligence community.

“There is deep concern,” a senior administration official told CNN.

Intelligence officials also expressed concern about what Trump might have taken, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter. Representatives of the intelligence community have held discussions with the Justice Department, congressional intelligence committees and the National Archives over the past few months about potentially missing sensitive documents, the source said.

White House officials have firmly maintained near-silence on the matter, insisting that it is up to the Justice Department to comment on the ongoing investigation. President Joe Biden was not informed of the criminal investigation, officials said, and reports about it reached the West Wing via media outlets.

Asked on Wednesday whether to brief Biden on the national security implications, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain insisted the president would keep his distance.

“One of the reasons Joe Biden was elected president was because he promised he would stay clear of interference like his predecessor did in Justice Department investigations. that he would not intervene politically in the enforcement of our laws by the Department of Justice,” he told CNN. Don Lemon.

Without knowing precisely what the documents extracted from Mar-a-Lago contain, officials have raised internal concerns about whether it could hamper the country’s spy agencies by endangering the way officials gather intelligence. . There have also been discussions of potential diplomatic fallout, including whether information found at Mar-a-Lago could cause tension with allies.

The Justice Department removed 11 sets of classified documents from Trump’s home, according to documents unsealed by a judge last week. The inventory shows that some of the materials recovered were marked as “top secret/SCI”, which is one of the highest ranking levels. The case that was recovered by the FBI included information about French President Emmanuel Macron, which also raised concerns at the White House.

The French Embassy in Washington declined to say whether it had any discussions with the White House about the material. The White House also declined to comment on internal concerns about classified information passed to Mar-a-Lago.

Biden, as president, has previously raised concerns about Trump’s handling of sensitive information. He took the unprecedented step early in his term to cut off Trump’s access to intelligence briefings, a courtesy previously extended to all former presidents.

“What’s the value of giving him an intelligence briefing?” Biden said in an interview with CBS News in February 2021. “What impact does he have at all, other than he might slip up and say something?”

Biden aides have previously asked if Trump can reveal classified or sensitive information he learned during his days as president in speeches or interviews, which are often given off the cuff.

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