US intelligence agencies to conduct risk assessment of recovered Mar-a-Lago materials – letter

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. intelligence community will assess the potential risk to national security from the disclosure of materials recovered during the Aug. 8 search of former President Donald Trump’s Florida home, according to a letter seen by Reuters.

Friday’s letter from Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Avril Haines to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney also said the Justice Department and DNI are “working together to facilitate classification control’ of materials, including those retrieved during the Search.

Schiff and Maloney said in a joint statement that they were pleased the government was “assessing the damage caused by the improper storage of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.” Politico reported the letter earlier.

The Justice Department revealed on Friday that it was investigating Trump for removing White House files because it believed he was in possession of illegal documents, including some related to intelligence gathering and classified human sources – among America’s most closely held secrets.

Haynes said the DNI “will also lead an Intelligence Community (IC) assessment of the potential risk to national security that would arise from the disclosure of relevant documents,” including those seized.

A Trump spokesman, Taylor Budowitz, accused Schiff of being reckless with US intelligence and argued that Democrats had “weaponized the intelligence community against President Trump with selective and dishonest leaks.”

The Justice Department on Friday released a heavily redacted affidavit that supported the FBI’s extraordinary investigation at Mar-a-Lago, in which agents seized 11 sets of classified files, including some marked “top secret” as documents that could seriously threaten national security if exposed.

In the affidavit, an unidentified FBI agent said the agency reviewed and identified 184 “classified” documents containing “national defense information” after Trump returned 15 boxes of government records sought by the US National Archives in January . Other files in those boxes, according to the affidavit, contained Trump’s handwritten notes.

Schiff and Maloney said the Justice Department’s announcement Friday “confirms our serious concern that among the documents stored at Mar-a-Lago were those that could compromise human sources. It is critical that the IC moves quickly to assess and, if necessary, mitigate the damage done.”

Haines wrote that the DNI will coordinate closely with the Department of Justice to “ensure that this IC assessment is conducted in a manner that does not unduly interfere with DOJ’s ongoing criminal investigation.”

The investigation was part of a federal investigation into whether Trump removed and retained illegal documents when he left office in January 2021 after losing the 2020 election to President Joe Biden, and whether Trump tried to obstruct the investigation.

Trump, a Republican considering another presidential bid in 2024, has described the court-authorized search of his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach as politically motivated and on Friday again described it as a “burglary.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Zieminski)

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