On CNN Wednesday, former President Donald Trump's Defense Secretary Mark Esper laid bare the severe threat his former boss created by smuggling classified foreign nuclear intelligence to his Mar-a-Lago country club in Palm Beach, Florida.
"With regard to the nuclear documents at Mar-a-Lago, it is very, very troubling that this type of information would be there, anywhere for that matter," said Esper, who was fired by Trump in the waning months of his presidency for opposing the deployment of active-duty troops against civil rights protesters. "We know at this point that there's been, over a period of months, 300 classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago. And that simply should have never happened in the first place."
"We spoke this morning with David Sanger of The New York Times, who said Trump was significantly more interested in the nuclear weapons efforts of North Korea and Iran than other countries," said anchor Brianna Keilar. "To be clear, we don't know from this report which country this is talking about. Do you expect that this was information about the military, though, of an American adversary?"
"Well, we simply don't know," said Esper. "But we don't know whether it was a friend or a foe, and the issue is not just about the content of the report, but what it may reveal about our sources and methods and capabilities to find out and learn about another country's military capabilities. So that is a particular concern as well, which why I think it is all the more important that the intelligence community quickly conduct its risk assessment of what may or may not have been released at Mar-a-Lago."
Esper proceeded to outline that risk in greater detail.
"You don't want your adversaries to know that you know what they have or what they can do because otherwise they change their capabilities, they change their own security procedures, et cetera," said Esper. "The same is true, of course, by the sources and methods. You don't want them to know how you're getting that information, whether through signals intelligence, human intelligence, you know, overhead surveillance, you name it. You safeguard all those things, because otherwise you compromise your access and thus your own nation's security. And that would be my principle concern, and I'm sure a concern of most national security officials."
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Mark Esper reacts to Trump hoarding foreign nuclear intelligence at Mar-a-Lago www.youtube.com