Judicial imbroglio over classified documents seized from Donald Trump’s residence

The series of archives kept by Donald Trump after his departure from the White House is a matter of national security. In its September 7 edition, the washington post claims that among the documents seized on August 8 by federal police from the residence in Mar-a-Lago, Florida, is a note describing the military capabilities – including nuclear – of a foreign state. The daily does not specify the name of the country, nor the degree of possible classification. This is to date the only information – very incomplete – on the content of the documents, which immediately opened the way to endless speculation among commentators.

But there are other certainties in this case, overwhelming for the former president. The latter held for eighteen months in his residence extremely sensitive archives, some of which detail the work of the intelligence services. This without justification, and without the strict security and conservation conditions usually required. Notes bearing, for example, the mention “classified/TS/SCI” can in principle only be consulted in a federal building provided for this purpose. It is impossible, at this stage, to assess the damage caused, without knowing precisely who had access to which documents, and for what purposes.

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On August 8, the FBI had confirmation of the lightness with which the archives were stored, in disorder, often mixed with magazines and photos. The police discovered 48 empty files, marked “classified information”. Some of the documents found during the search were classified “HCS”, a category involving highly sensitive human sources, including moles or agents infiltrated into hostile environments or foreign regimes. Investigators came across notes with such restricted access, explains the washington postthat even some senior officials of the current security apparatus, in the Biden administration, are not allowed to consult them.

Some 300 documents in total

In 2021, the National Archives had tried to reconstruct missing files, but had come up against a wall, on the side of Donald Trump. The Ministry of Justice had joined in these efforts, on several occasions. By January, 184 documents had been obtained from the former president. In June, his lawyers handed over 38 more. But the federal police (FBI), well informed thanks to an internal source in the residence, suspected Donald Trump’s advisers and the latter of concealing the extent and nature of the archives. Hence the spectacular search at Mar-a-Lago on August 8, during which a hundred other documents were discovered.

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