- Trump pledged to follow and “enforce” procedures to protect America’s secrets.
- He kept records about “potential vulnerabilities of the United States and its allies to military attack,” per the indictment.
- Their disclosure could expose weaknesses in America’s collective defenses.
Donald Trump, who as the GOP presidential nominee pledged to follow and “enforce” procedures to protect America’s secrets, had some extremely damaging ones allegedly laying around his estate and private club, according to federal prosecutors.
Their indictment unsealed Friday alleges that the former president had kept government records at Mar-a-Lago that pertained to “defense and weapons capabilities of both the United States and foreign countries; United States nuclear programs; potential vulnerabilities of the United States and its allies to military attack; and plans for possible retaliation in response to a foreign attack.”
These kinds of documents, produced by the Defense Department and members of the US intelligence community, are likely to be among the most closely held secrets of the US government. Their disclosure, whether intentional or accidental to, say, one of the tens of thousands of visitors at Trump’s club, could expose weaknesses in America’s collective defenses, or foretell US responses to conflict — vital information to a potential adversary.
The records about nuclear programs are likely to also be highly sensitive files — especially if they describe nuclear weapon capabilities, plans or launch protocols. US security and that of the NATO alliance is underpinned by its massive nuclear arsenal, with grave concerns that information about individual weapons or plans could prove a windfall for American adversaries or terror groups looking to steal a weapon.
It’s unclear what motivation Trump may have had for keeping these records. But Trump apparently didn’t keep it a secret that he’d kept these secret files; the FBI recovered 17 documents with top-secret markings, according to the indictment.
In one meeting with a writer and a publisher in July 2021, Trump brought out a record he described as a “war plan” that’s believed to relate to Iran (the indictment labels it “Country A”); Trump had brought the US to the brink of war with Iran after assassinating its top general on Jan. 3, 2020, and Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was reportedly concerned Trump could escalate with Iran in his administration’s final days.
In that July 2021 meeting, the indictment alleges, the former president told the group: “Secret. This is secret information. Look, look at this.”
In announcing his indictment Thursday on his Truth Social network, Trump declared: “I AM AN INNOCENT MAN.”