Trump Had Classified Nuclear Documents

We know next to nothing from the Washington Post report.

Classified documents relating to nuclear weapons were among the items FBI agents sought in a search of former president Donald Trump’s Florida residence on Monday, according to people familiar with the investigation.

The people who described some of the material that agents were seeking spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. They did not offer additional details about what type of information the agents were seeking, including whether it involved weapons belonging to the United States or some other nation. Nor did they say if such documents were recovered as part of the search. A Trump spokesman did not respond to a request for comment. The Justice Department and FBI declined to comment.

We do not know what kind of classified, what level of classified, or what those documents say about nuclear weapons – whether it is design information, where they are located, or even if they are about US nuclear weapons.

Everything else that you read about these documents is speculation. Speculation is natural, because Trump was inordinately interested in nuclear weapons, asking his aides why we didn’t use them and saying that what he liked was “the destruction.” The trouble is that there are so many directions in which speculation can go. Maybe a document is an evaluation of Trump’s plan to nuke hurricanes. Maybe it is a plan to nuke Iran. We don’t know.

Or it could be the classified version of the Nuclear Posture Review, a review of how nuclear weapons are part of the national defense strategy that every president undertakes.

Other “classified nuclear information” could include design information, unusual for a president to have, or the numbers of nuclear weapons and where they are stationed.

Some of this information is available through unclassified means. Amy Woolf explains.

My explainer thread from last night –

Alex Wellerstein gives more background on why Restricted Data is different.

Keep in mind that we are arguing arcane points of classification law because Trump has used classified information to further his own interests in ways that could have hurt the national interest. He tweeted out a photo of an Iranian explosion that showed what our intelligence satellites could do. He shared intelligence with Russian officials in the Oval Office. We didn’t need to be concerned with these points of law with other presidents because they understood their responsibilities for nuclear information.

Let’s wait and see what more is released about the document. We may not hear much because of the classification.

The cover sheet at the top of this post is from the US Atomic Energy Commission. This particular form dates from 1949, and was used through at least the early 1950s. This specimen comes from the papers of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, in the Legislative Archives, U.S. National Archives, and was attached to a document from 1953.

Cross-posted to Lawyers, Guns & Money