In the two weeks since the Feds seized classified documents that Donald Trump had stolen and hidden in his home, his apologists have floated various excuses for why he had the documents. One of the most popular narratives has been that Trump simply wanted to use the documents to help him remember his time in office so he could write a memoir. But new reporting shatters that narrative.
Trump stole more than three hundred classified documents in total, including documents that were classified by the NSA and CIA, according to a new report tonight from the New York Times. These agencies don’t deal in the kind of somewhat harmless, just barely classified documents that Trump’s allies have suggested he took. These agencies deal in state secrets.
Moreover, the NYT is now confirming that Trump personally went through at least some of these boxes of classified documents. And while Trump did voluntarily turn over some of the classified documents earlier this year, the Feds ended up seizing documents that were at the “highest level of classification” – meaning Trump kept the good stuff for himself.
This new reporting also confirms that not one but two of Donald Trump’s lawyers signed a statement for the Feds earlier this year, asserting that all the classified documents at Mar-a-Lago had been returned. If it can be proven that they knew there were still dozens of boxes of classified information in Trump’s home at the time they signed that statement, then they’ll face criminal charges themselves, and they’ll have to decide whether to flip on Trump.
But let’s not lose track of the real headline here. Donald Trump didn’t just steal souvenirs that happened to be classified. He stole secrets that had been classified by the CIA and NSA. We’re talking state secrets here. We still don’t know if Trump actually tried to sell these secrets or blackmail anyone with them. But you don’t steal state secrets from the CIA unless you have really ugly intentions. No wonder the DOJ has classified this as an espionage investigation in its unsealed search warrant of Trump’s home.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report