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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Intelligence officials will assess security risks from Mar-a-Lago documents

By Luke Broadwater

U.S. intelligence officials will conduct a review to assess the possible risks to national security from former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents after the FBI retrieved boxes containing sensitive material from Mar-a-Lago, according to a letter to lawmakers.

In the letter, Avril D. Haines, the director of national intelligence, informed the top lawmakers on the House Intelligence and Oversight Committees that her office would lead an intelligence community assessment of the “potential risk to national security that would result from the disclosure” of documents Trump took with him to his private club and residence in Palm Beach, Florida.

In the letter, which was obtained by The New York Times, Haines said her office would work with the Justice Department to ensure that the assessment did not interfere with the department’s criminal investigation concerning the documents. The review will determine what intelligence sources or systems could be identified from the documents and be compromised if they fell into the wrong hands.

Haines’ letter, dated Friday, was reported earlier by Politico. It came after the leaders of the Intelligence and Oversight Committees asked her on Aug. 13 to conduct an “immediate review and damage assessment” in the wake of the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago, during which federal agents recovered 11 sets of classified documents.

The Senate Intelligence Committee also asked for a damage assessment, according to the panel’s chair, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., who said the request had been bipartisan.

On Friday, the Justice Department released a redacted version of the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant for Mar-a-Lago. That document included the revelation that Trump had retained highly classified material after leaving office, including documents related to the use of “clandestine human sources” in intelligence gathering.

Reps. Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif., the chair of the Intelligence Committee, and Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., the chair of the Oversight Committee, issued an approving statement in response to Haines’ letter.

“The DOJ affidavit, partially unsealed yesterday, affirms our grave concern that among the documents stored at Mar-a-Lago were those that could endanger human sources,” the lawmakers said in their statement.

Using the abbreviation for the intelligence community, they added, “It is critical that the IC move swiftly to assess and, if necessary, to mitigate the damage done — a process that should proceed in parallel with DOJ’s criminal investigation.”

Before the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8, the National Archives and the Justice Department tried at length to retrieve sensitive documents that Trump had kept after leaving the White House.

In January, the archives collected 15 boxes from Mar-a-Lago. The FBI later reviewed their contents and found a total of 184 documents with classification markings, including 25 labeled “top secret,” according to the affidavit released on Friday.

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