How many classified documents is too many? When Hillary Clinton used a private email address during her role as secretary of state, there were three emails that had marks that may have made them classified that were stored on the still-secure server. That was enough to generate media coverage that was literally wall to wall, including every single column of the front page of The New York Times, as well as congressional investigations, a prolonged investigation from the FBI, and endless chants of “lock her up!”
But when it comes to the boxes of material removed from Mar-a-Lago, the number of classified documents seems to be somewhat higher. Like, orders of magnitude higher. Because on Monday evening, the same New York Times reported that Trump was hoarding more than 300 classified documents. That includes at least one set of materials containing an unknown number of documents that were marked with the highest level of ”top secret/sensitive compartmented information.”
More than 150 classified documents were in the first tranche of material that Trump finally handed over in January after long efforts to secure their return by the National Archives. It was looking through that information that made it absolutely clear that Trump was holding hostage secrets that are vital to the nation. What the FBI found when they went back into the material Trump had not returned was as least as many more examples of classified material as it had found on the first pass.
On Tuesday morning, the story of Trump’s massive cache of national secrets does at least rate an appearance in the Times, even if it doesn’t get the screaming headlines and full-page coverage of someone who kept secure an ambiguously labeled email.
Exactly what subjects were covered by the materials recovered in the FBI raid is not specified, but there are two things of immediate note. First, the 15 boxes of material recovered in January reportedly held “documents from the C.I.A., the National Security Agency and the F.B.I. spanning a variety of topics of national security interest.”
The nature of these documents was such that,” not only did the National Archives immediately continue their correspondence with Trump in an effort to secure the remainder of the documents he had taken to Mar-a-Lago, they almost immediately began preparing to contact the FBI.
The second notable fact about these documents is that Trump claimed to have gone through all the information personally. According to the Times, multiple people have reported that Trump “went through the boxes himself in late 2021.” So even if Trump can claim to be ignorant of what got tossed into the boxes that he illegally hauled away from the White House, he certainly knew what he had even before sorting out the documents that were given to the Archives in January, And he gave no more than half of the documents that were classified.
That includes Trump taking documents that former White House officials had selected to be returned and putting them in a set of boxes for things he wanted to keep. Boxes that Trump labeled “Mine.”
The 26 boxes that the FBI carried away from Mar-a-Lago following the raid reportedly contain at least 11 sets of material clearly marked as classified, including that set of Top Secret/SCIF material. Earlier this month, Trump all but admitted that the documents recovered included information on the nation’s nuclear secrets after reports that nuclear weapons information was part of what drove the urgency in getting the material back.
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