Among the more than 100 sets of classified material the FBI found in its Aug. 8 search of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club was "a document describing a foreign government's military defenses, including its nuclear capabilities," The Washington Post reported Tuesday night, citing people familiar with the matter. "Some of the seized documents detail top-secret U.S. operations so closely guarded," the Post adds, that "only the president, some members of his Cabinet, or a near-Cabinet-level official could authorize other government officials to know details of these special-access programs."
The Justice Department said in a court filing late last month that "even the FBI counterintelligence personnel and DOJ attorneys conducting the review required additional clearances before they were permitted to review certain documents" found in the Aug. 8 search. Some of those records, including on the foreign nation's nuclear-defense capabilities, the Post adds, were so "extremely restricted" that "even some of the senior-most national security officials in the Biden administration weren't authorized to review them."
The need-to-know classification level will narrow down the list of potential "special masters" who could review the Mar-a-Lago documents, assuming U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon's ruling survives a likely DOJ appeal. Trump lawyer Christopher Kise, in his statement to the Post, suggested the special master approved by Cannon could help stop the leaks about the case, "if the goal is, as it should be, to find a rational solution to document storage issues which have needlessly spiraled out of control."
Some Trump allies similarly refer to the Justice Department's criminal investigation as a document storage issue, but "GOP lawmakers and allies of the former president have offered increasingly strained responses when it comes to his possession of classified and top-secret documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate," Politico reports. Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) said the central question should be: "Why would you take classified materials out of the White House? For what purpose?"
We don't know what classified materials Trump kept or why he refused to turn them over when ordered, The New York Times reported last week, but according to the people who gave Trump intelligence briefings, his "appetite for sensitive information" revolved around "his personal relationships with world leaders" and their "supposed extramarital affairs," as well as "the power available at his fingertips." Trump, former senior intelligence official Sue Gordon told the Times, "is all about leverage."