Trump’s ‘grossly negligent’ handling of top-secret info put lives in danger: government veteran
President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago New Year's Eve Party (Photo: Screen capture)

The Department of Justice will look into Donald Trump's handling of classified material after leaving the White House, but one bureaucratic veteran said a much more "urgent" approach is needed.

Top-secret information was discovered by the National Archives at the former president's Mar-A-Lago residence, and attorney general Merrick Garland promised a methodical investigation, but Washington Post columnist Colbert I. King called for swift and thorough action against this mishandling of top-secret information.

"For me, this is neither a juicy Trump news story nor a spectator sport," wrote King, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and former U.S. Army officer who served in a variety of legislative and executive branch roles. "Garland can ponder his next move. But someone in a position of authority had better find out what Trump did with top-secret materials taken from the White House, his tender sensibilities notwithstanding."

National security officials must determine what steps Trump took to protect these documents, which could cause “exceptionally grave damage” if they fell into the wrong hands.

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"Government agencies that produced, own and are responsible for controlling the top-secret information that was taken have a need to know whether their information could have fallen into the wrong hands," King wrote. "Lives, vital sources and methods of collection, critical U.S. interests, including relations with foreign governments, depend upon top-secret information being properly safeguarded."

Government officials must follow specific instructions for handling and storing sensitive information, and King said at this point there's no evidence to back Trump's denial of improper activities involving those classified docuents.

"Where were the documents kept at Mar-a-Lago?" King wondered. "How were they stored, and in what kind of equipment or facility? Who at Mar-a-Lago had potential access to them? Given the circumstances of their removal from the White House, and Trump’s past defiance of the Presidential Records Act, which requires document preservation, the government must — not should — but must investigate the thorny question of whether classified information in Trump’s possession might have been compromised."

"Whether top-secret materials were or were not intentionally mishandled — and who, if anyone, was grossly negligent — are important questions, but for another day," he added.

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