NEW YORK ( Associated Press) – A mountain of papers is sitting on his desk. The walls are covered with framed magazine covers and memorabilia of all kinds. A giant Shaquille O’Neill sneaker is strewn with football helmets, boxing belts and other sporting goods in the Trump Tower office.
Long before he got into politics, Trump loved collecting things. It is a lifelong habit that, along with his recklessness, his tendency to ignore the rules and his chaotic departure from the White House after refusing to accept his election defeat, sparked an investigation that faced extraordinary political and legal challenges. Is.
The recent search of his home in Mar-a-Lago for documents from his years in the White House was an unprecedented move against a former president widely expected to run for president again. Officials have not disclosed what exactly were in the confiscated boxes, but the FBI said it had recovered several documents, including some that caused “extraordinarily serious” damage to US interests before the public. can.
It is not clear why Trump refused to hand over the seized documents despite repeated requests. But his tendency to ignore the Presidential Archives Act, which sets out how those archives should be handled, is well documented throughout his term as president. He used to tear up documents that later had to be taped together. Official documents that are usually given to the National Archives were mixed with his personal belongings in the presidential residence. He tweeted confidential information that could be seen by journalists and opponents. It was also found in the bathroom of the White House.
John Bolton, who was Trump’s third national security adviser, said that prior to his arrival, he had heard that “there was some concern in the air about how he handled information. Over time, I realized why.”
The decision to move classified documents to Mar-a-Lago, a busy estate hosting weddings, political events, charity events and other activities, fits the old pattern of ignoring secrets that affect national security. Former aides said Trump was concerned about classified information.
For example, at a dinner with then-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the courtyard of Mar-a-Lago, diners were able to view and take photographs of documents viewed by Trump and Shinzo on North Korean missile tests.
Trump once provided highly classified information about the Islamic State organization to Russian officials from Israeli sources. In another, he tweeted a high-resolution satellite image of an apparent explosion at the Iranian space station, which intelligence personnel described as highly sensitive. Trump insisted he had a “clear right” to share it.
Former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Trump was “reckless” in handling classified or sensitive information and that he “didn’t care” why he shouldn’t share it.
He recalled an episode involving Conan, an armed forces dog who was hailed as a hero for his role in the raid that killed Islamic State chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He said that prior to the dog’s arrival at the White House, employees were told that the dog could not be photographed because doing so could endanger those working with them. But Trump decided he wanted to show it to the press.
“I wanted publicity,” Grisham said. “It’s an example of how little he cares about risking lives. It was like he had a cute toy that he shows off to impress his friends.”
Bolton said that while working for Trump, he and others tried to explain to him the stakes and risks associated with the sources and methods of disclosing them.
“I don’t think any of them showed him interest. He didn’t realize how fragile these things were, how dangerous it was for some of our people and the risks it could expose them to.” can.” “What may seem an innocent picture to the ignorant could be a goldmine for foreign intelligence services.”
“Over and over again I told her, ‘It’s too delicate, too fragile.’ He replied ‘I know’. And then he would go and do it again.”
Bolton said Trump likes to keep important documents.
“Sometimes he asked to keep something and[his colleagues]told him, ‘This is something very delicate.’ And he stayed with them anyway.”
Trump’s refusal to acknowledge his election defeat made the transition chaotic. When he finally decided to leave the White House, there wasn’t much time to pack up and move out organically.
Bolton says he doesn’t think Trump took confidential documents for nefarious purposes. He admits that he considered them to be “souvenirs”, like many things he collected throughout his life.
“I suspect that some things seemed good to him and he wanted to keep them,” he said. “Some days she liked to have fries. Wanted to get other documents. Gather everything.”
Balsamo reported from Washington.