Officials Feared Trump Would Use Classified Documents to Boost His 2024 Chances

Investigators executing a search warrant at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate last week were seeking out specific documents they believed he was going to weaponize, possibly in the 2024 presidential election, according to a new report.

According to Newsweek, though the pretext of the search was to gather all government documents that Trump had improperly stored there, officials were after very specific documents that were part of his personal “stash,” including some that were related to the Russia investigation Trump vehemently opposed (And possibly obstructed) early on in his presidency. The publication cited interviews they conducted on behalf of two intelligence officials. They spoke anonymously due to the sensitive nature of the ongoing inquiry.

“They collected everything that rightfully belonged to the U.S. government but the true target was these documents that Trump had been collecting since early in his administration,” one of the officials said to Newsweek.

Although some officials may have found sensitive documents relating to nuclear weapons, the initial motivation behind the search came from the Department of Justice (DOJ), who were concerned that Trump might share classified information they knew he had to help him win a presidential campaign in 2024. Although the search may have resulted in sensitive documents related to nuclear weapons, the original motivation behind the search was because the Department of Justice (DOJ) was concerned that Trump might share classified documents they knew he had in order to help him win a presidential bid in 2024. Newsweek reports that the documents relate in some way to the Russia investigation, it’s unclear what specifically they relate to, or how exactly Trump might use them to further his future presidential aspirations.

The retrieval of documents pertaining to nuclear weapons is especially troubling — it’s unclear yet why Trump was in possession of them, and what motivation he had for keeping them at his estate — but given Mar-a-Lago’s insecure setupTheir presence there is dangerous observers have pointed out.

Trump officials in the past have described how he regularly removed pagesIf they piqued his curiosity, he would read intelligence briefings and other official documents while he was at the White House. These officials said that the former president would often rip these pages apart and keep them.

Trump has already shared classified information on social media that he wasn’t supposed to divulge. During his presidency, he created a post on Twitter that showed a failed missile launch in Iran — an image that his former national security adviser, John Bolton, confirmed this week was classified. Though Trump’s tweet wasn’t technically illegalExperts say it could have been dangerous to post an image.

Trump supporters falsely claim that removing documents from the White House was an automatic declassification. Experts acknowledge that the president makes the final decision on declassifying documents. However, many experts have stated clearly that this is not how it works.

“The president is the ultimate classifier and de-classifier — but he can’t just wave a magic wand, and he can’t do it in secret,” Douglas London, a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer, said to ABC News.

“If [Trump] and his allies are defending his handling of these documents by claiming that they’re no longer classified, they need to show the paper trail” of when that happened, London added.