“Worst possible scenario”: Legal experts sound alarm over Iran and China docs found at Mar-a-Lago

The trove of documents seized from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence contained sensitive intelligence about Iran and China, according to The Washington Post.

Some of the information recovered included intelligence-gathering methods that the United States would want to keep hidden from the world, and at least one of the documents describes the Iran missile program, according to the report.

Sensitive intelligence regarding China was also found among Trump’s stolen documents, and experts say the unauthorized disclosure of such documents could harm U.S. intelligence efforts, or may even spark retaliation from other countries. The recently recovered secret documents regarding Iran and China are some of the most sensitive pieces of information the FBI has found thus far, sources told the Post.

A spokesman for Trump did not comment on the recent news, but the former president has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing for storing over 13,000 documents at his private estate, including up to 184 classified materials and 25 top secret documents, according to the National Archives and Records Administration.

The Post previously reported that one of the documents reportedly found in the FBI search contained information about a foreign country’s nuclear capabilities, but it was never confirmed whether the material was related to Iran or China. 

The recent discovery is another example of why current and former intelligence officials were concerned about these materials being easily accessible in Trump’s private club instead of in heavily guarded government buildings.

“The exceptional sensitivity of these documents, and the reckless exposure of invaluable sources and methods of U.S. intelligence capabilities concerning these foreign adversaries, will certainly influence the Justice Department’s determination of whether to charge Mr. Trump or others with willful retention of national defense information under the Espionage Act,” David Laufman, a former senior Justice Department official, told the Post.

NYU Law Professor Ryan Goodman, a former special counsel for the Department of Defense, said Trump’s actions risked “severe national security damage.”

“Toying around with [the] idea that these documents were ‘declassified’ is its own national security risk,” Goodman wrote on Twitter Friday, adding that the DOJ is “closing in on [a] rock solid criminal indictment.”

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Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a D.C.-based government watchdog group, called the report “the worst possible scenario.” 

“Who did Trump show them to and what did he get out of it?” the group said on Twitter.

Norm Eisen, who served as a special House counsel during Trump’s first impeachment, said that sensitive documents with information about China and Iran “have NO business being in an ex-president’s hands.”

“This is further proof of the grave risk posed by Trump’s misconduct,” Eisen tweeted, adding that “it also points to the likelihood of prosecution.”

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