Former Trump Officials Suggest He Might Have Taken Classified Documents As 'leverage' For Future Political Aspirations

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A composite image of Donald Trump (left) and the DOJ's photo of top-secret documents found at Mar-a-Lago (right).

Trump raged on Truth Social about how the DOJ photograph appeared to show files strewn across the carpet.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images; Department of Justice

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  • Two former Trump aides said he could have taken classified documents as political “leverage.”
  • Last month the FBI seized over 11 sets of classified documents from Mar-a-Lago. 
  • Agents found over 10,000 government documents at the estate, including over 100 classified records. 

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Two aides for former President Donald Trump said he might have taken the classified documents seized from his Mar-a-Lago resort for “leverage” for future political aspirations. 

“I think  DOJ has an obligation at some point to give a sense, without revealing, of course, what’s in these classified documents, but those 18 top secret documents, even the subject matter, because I think, knowing the former president, we have to kind of think about why he does things and his motivations behind things,” Alyssa Farah Griffin, the former White House communications director told CNN’s Dana Bash during a panel on Sunday. 

Griffin added: “And one we have to keep in mind is leverage. Is this something that he’s holding on to help his future political ambitions? Or is this simply that he took classified documents unknowingly, was warned, did not turn them back over, and there was no motive or intent in doing so?”

Bash responded by asking Stephanie Grisham, another former White House communications director: “What do you think is the likelier answer to what Alyssa just posed, especially when you see that this classified information was seemingly just put together with random press clippings, clothing, gifts?”

Grisham said “leverage” was the most likely reason behind Trump taking the documents. 

“So, my thought is, as Alyssa said earlier, I think it’s some kind of a leverage. I do think — believe some of it he just felt was cool. And I do believe some of it he just thinks he owns it, which, of course, he does not,” Grisham said. “So — and, also, the fact that he did not give things back when asked over and over again over the course of a year. So, I think there’s something behind it.” 

Last month, the FBI had seized 11 sets of classified documents from former President Donald Trump’s property, including some that were marked as “top secret” and may have concerned nuclear weapons. In a Friday court filing, the Department of Justice publicly released the most detailed inventory of the documents seized at the Trump’s estate. 

FBI agents found over 10,000 government documents at the estate, including over 100 classified records. 

The classified documents were found mixed in with other random items including press clippings, which Grisham said ” tracks perfectly” with the way Trump filed information while in office. 

“That is exactly what his filing system was. It was just boxes of things randomly placed together,” Grisham said. “When I saw the picture, though, and I saw the sheer volume of classified materials, and now we’re hearing that some could be missing, I just don’t know how that amount could be put in those boxes and not be seen and not be noticed.”

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