Senate intelligence committee asks for briefing on potential security risks from Trump’s secret papers haul

·3-min read

Former President Donald Trump's alleged mishandling of sensitive documents has reportedly prompted the Senate Intelligence Committee to request an assessment of possible national security threats resulting from the incident.

NBC News' Kyle Griffin reports that the committee has requested the Department of Justice and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to "provide the Committee with the classified documents that were seized in the search of Mar-a-Lago, and an assessment of potential risks to national security as a result of their mishandling."

The FBI raided Mr Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence and retrieved boxes of sensitive documents, including top secret, secret, and compartmentalised confidential documents that are only intended for view in controlled, secure locations.

Because the contents of the documents have not been made public, the nature of possible national security threats that could arise from them is unclear.

However, information from two federal sources suggest some of the threats could be aimed at human US intelligence sources on the government's payroll.

According to Newsweek — which spoke to two federal government sources on the condition of anonymity — some of the documents contain information that could provide the identities of US intelligence sources.

The sources said if the documents do contain such information, it will likely complicate any attempt by the US government to prove that Mr Trump's actions posed a national security threat.

"In order to prove that this was a matter of national security and essential to be done in this way, some detail on what Trump was keeping will have to be revealed," one source told Newsweek. "That might be difficult for the government precisely because of the sensitivity of the documents."

Mr Trump — and his allies speaking on right-wing media outlets — has defended his actions by claiming any documents under his care were deemed "declassified," absolving him of any potential crimes.

Even if Mr Trump did declassify everything — an assertion that he has thus far been unable to prove and has been rejected by former National Security Advisor John Bolton, who said no such order existed during his time in the former president's administration — he may still have violated record-keeping laws.

Sections 1519 and 2071 of Title 18 of the US Code — which were both referred to in the search warrant used by the FBI to search Mar-a-Lago — make concealing government records a crime even if they do not deal with national security.

Laws that deal with records retention do not always hinge on whether or not a document is classified. One of those is the Espionage Act, which makes it illegal to retain documents dealing with national defense that could be used to harm the US or aid a foreign adversary unless such retention was authorised.

Mr Trump has since taken to his social media platform, Truth Social, to call for the return of the documents to Mar-a-Lago.

“By copy of this Truth, I respectfully request that these documents be immediately returned to the location from which they were taken. Thank you!” he wrote.

It is unlikely the FBI will comply with his social media request.