Speaking to the Associated Press, former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Trump was “careless” with sensitive information
Following the seizure of 11 sets of classified documents from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property by the FBI, one former White House official said Trump’s tendency to show secret information was well known during his presidency.
According to former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, Trump saw classified intelligence as “his own shiny toy he’s showing off to his friends to impress them,” and his eagerness to share the knowledge, she claimed, often trumped any risk that it may harm lives.
Grisham told the Associated Press that Trump was “careless” with sensitive information.
The AP cites several situations during Trump’s presidency when the handling of classified information was called into question, including a 2018 dinner with former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the patio of Mar-a-Lago, where fellow diners took cellphone photos of the world leaders allegedly reviewing classified documents relating to a North Korean missile test.
Then there was the time Trump revealed Conan, a U.S. military dog who killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Conan, a Belgian Malinois, was paraded in front of reporters, according to Grisham, despite a briefing in which White House officials were told the dog must not be photographed. They were concerned that the photos might put his handlers in danger.
But Trump, Grisham added, wasn’t dissuaded.
“Because he wanted the publicity, out went Conan,” Grisham told the AP. “It’s an example of him not caring if he put lives in danger.”
Trump’s former National Security Adviser John Bolton backed up Grisham’s assertions to the AP, saying that the former president “didn’t seem to appreciate just how sensitive [classified information] was, how dangerous it was for some of our people and the risks that they could be exposed to.”
“What looks like an innocuous picture to a private citizen can be a gold mine to … foreign intelligence,” Bolton added to the AP.
The former president’s handling of classified documents appears to have been central to an FBI search of Mar-a-Lago in August, which came just weeks after FBI agents and a senior Justice Department national security supervisor reportedly visited the resort in connection with boxes of classified documents sitting in the property’s basement.
Trump reportedly informed officials that he had no more sensitive documents, but according to The Wall Street Journal, “someone familiar with the stored papers told investigators there may be still more classified documents at the private club.”
Following the Aug. 8 search of Mar-a-Lago, a US court released the warrant that granted FBI investigators access to the property, indicating that the DOJ is investigating the former president for possible violations of the Espionage Act and other national security-related statutes.
Among the several boxes stolen were photo binders, an unspecified handwritten message, and the executive clemency grant for former Trump aide Roger Stone. The three-page document list also revealed that information regarding France’s President had been gathered.
Trump has since claimed that he had a “standing order” to declassify documents he brought from the Oval Office to the White House residence, something several of his own former officials dispute.
As Bolton surmised to the AP, Trump’s seeming lack of understanding regarding the sensitivity of some documents meant that he viewed almost all of them as nothing more than souvenirs.
“I think he just thought some things were cool and he wanted them,” Bolton said. “Some days he liked to collect french fries. Some days he liked to collect documents. He just collected things.”