WASHINGTON — Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said her office will lead a damage assessment of the documents that were removed from former President Donald Trump Mar-a-Lago home in a letter to congressional lawmakers, obtained by NBC News Saturday.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, or DNI, which oversees the CIA, the National Security Agency and 16 other agencies, will “lead an Intelligence Community assessment of the potential risk to national security that would result from the disclosure of the relevant documents,” director Avril Haines wrote in the letter, dated Friday.
The DNI and Department of Justice are “working together to facilitate a classification review of relevant materials, including those recovered during the search,” Haines added, and both teams will coordinate closely to ensure the assessment doesn’t interfere with DOJ’s ongoing criminal investigation.
The letter, first reported by Politico, was addressed to House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and House Oversight Committee chair Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., who had both asked for a security damage assessment days after the FBI searched Trump’s Florida club on Aug. 8. The Senate intelligence committee has also asked for a damage assessment as well as further details about the substances of the documents but is yet to receive any.
“I suspect that the Biden administration is being super careful right now not to appear to be involved beyond the independent FBI and Justice Department,” a former senior intelligence official told NBC News earlier this month.
A redacted copy of the FBI affidavit used to justify the search, unsealed Friday, said that agents had conducted a preliminary review in mid-May of the contents of 15 boxes of documents that Trump returned to the National Archives from his Florida property in January, and “identified documents with classification markings in fourteen of the FIFTEEN BOXES.”
Agents found 184 unique documents that had classification markings, the affidavit said, with 25 documents marked as “TOP SECRET,” 67 documents marked as “confidential” and 92 marked “secret.”
Agents removed 11 additional sets of classified documents, including some labeled secret and top secret, during the Mar-a-Lago search, according to the property receipt of items that were recovered. There were also papers described as “SCI” documents, which stands for highly classified “sensitive compartmented information.”
U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart approved the warrant that allowed federal agents to search Trump’s Florida property after determining that the affidavit provided probable cause. He ruled Thursday that the document could be unsealed after the DOJ submitted proposed redactions.
In a joint statement Saturday, Maloney and Schiff said, “We are pleased that in response to our inquiry, Director Haines has confirmed that the Intelligence Community and Department of Justice are assessing the damage caused by the improper storage of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.”
The redacted affidavit, they said, “affirms our grave concern that among the documents stored at Mar-a-Lago were those that could endanger human sources. It is critical that the [intel community] move swiftly to assess and, if necessary, to mitigate the damage done—a process that should proceed in parallel with DOJ’s criminal investigation.”
Trump has denied any wrongdoing.