Intelligence Review Begins on Files Taken From Mar-a-Lago

Assessment to cover potential damage to national security
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 28, 2022 1:50 PM CDT
Intelligence Review Begins on Files Taken From Mar-a-Lago
Avril Haines, director of national intelligence, testifies on Capitol Hill in May.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Intelligence officials say they're reviewing government documents taken from former President Trump's Florida home to assess any risk to national security. Avril Haines, director of national intelligence, told congressional committee chairmen in a letter that the assessment will not interfere with the Justice Department's criminal investigation of the handling of the documents, the New York Times reports. The goal is to see what the potential damage from disclosure of the information in the documents might be—which intelligence sources or systems could be identified and compromised.

The letter apparently is the first instance of the Biden administration contacting Congress about the investigation involving Trump, per Politico. The chairmen of the House Intelligence and Oversight Committees asked Haines for "immediate review and damage assessment" days after FBI agents took 11 sets of classified documents from Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8. Democratic Sen. Mark Warner said the Senate Intelligence Committee also asked for an intelligence review, which he said was a bipartisan request, per the Times. And it's evidently the first time intelligence officials have acknowledged that exposure of the documents that Trump had held onto since his term ended in January 2021 could have harmed national security.

The Justice Department is looking into possible violations of the Presidential Records Act and the Espionage Act, as well as whether obstruction of justice was committed. An assessment typically would include looking into whether unauthorized people had access to such records; the department expressed concerns about security surrounding the documents at Mar-a-Lago. In welcoming Haines' commitment, the Democratic chairmen of the House committees called it critical that intelligence officials "move swiftly to assess and, if necessary, to mitigate the damage done." (Read more Mar-a-Lago stories.)

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