A document describing a foreign government’s military defenses, including its nuclear capabilities, was found in the FBI’s search last month of former US president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
The report, which cited people familiar with the matter, did not identify the foreign government discussed in the document, nor did it indicate whether the foreign government was friendly or hostile to the United States.
The FBI search of Trump’s Florida home is part of a federal investigation into whether the former president illegally removed documents when he left office in January 2021 after losing the presidential election to Democrat Joe Biden. During its search, the FBI seized 11 sets of classified materials at Mar-a-Lago, some of which were labeled “top secret” – the highest level of classification reserved for the most closely held US national security information and which can only be viewed in special government facilities.
On Monday, Judge Aileen Cannon agreed to appoint a special master to review the records seized during the FBI search. The decision means the Department of Justice (DOJ) must put its criminal investigation into the ex-president on hold until the records have been reviewed.
The classified document identified in The Washington Post report is part of a trove of records, which, according to the FBI, Trump and his team removed from the White House in 2021, and tried to hide in his 126-room house. Some of these documents were just newspaper clippings, but others detailed top secret US operations. According to The Washington Post, some of the documents are so top secret, they are even off-access to national security personnel in the Biden administration.
Documents regarding top secret operations require special authorizations to be reviewed, and some of them can only be read by a small group of people. These reports are kept under lock and key in a secure room, where an official is tasked with carefully monitoring their whereabouts and controlling who accesses them. Only the president and some members of his cabinet can authorize other officials to review the documents.
The Washington Post argues that the discovery of this document describing the nuclear capabilities of another state confirms the FBI’s concern that Trump was hiding classified material in his Florida home. The FBI believes that the secret reports allegedly taken by Trump’s team were stored at Mar-a-Lago with “uncertain security” more than 18 months after the former president left the White House, the newspaper reports.
In August, The New York Times, citing several sources close to the investigation, reported that the US government had recovered more than 300 classified documents from Trump’s Florida home, including material from the CIA, the National Security Agency and the FBI.
An initial batch of more than 150 documents marked as classified was recovered by the US National Archives in January, the newspaper reported. Aides to Trump gave the US Justice Department a second set of 38 classified documents in June, while a third batch of more than 100 reports were seized during the August 8 FBI search.
Trump has described the FBI investigation as “political persecution” and accused the US government of weaponizing the Justice Department. When The Washington Post reported in August that the FBI agents who entered Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate were looking for classified documents on nuclear weapons, Trump dismissed the claims as a “hoax.”
“Nuclear weapons issue is a hoax, just like Russia was a hoax,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform, referring to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia. He also claimed that the FBI agents who entered his home were “sleazy,” and hinted, without proof, that they may have planted false evidence against him.
The US government has asked Trump’s team on several occasions if they took classified documents from the White House in 2021 at the end of his term, but no answer has been forthcoming.