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Donald Trump answers NORAD calls to Santa (Photo: Screen capture)

On Wednesday, The New York Times reported that the National Archives discovered potentially classified information in the boxes of documents former President Donald Trump took with him when he left the White House.

"The discovery, which occurred after Mr. Trump returned 15 boxes of documents to the government last month, prompted the National Archives to reach out to the Justice Department for guidance," reported Reid Epstein and Michael Schmidt. "The department told the National Archives to have its inspector general examine the matter... It is unclear what the inspector general has done since then, in particular, whether the inspector general has referred the matter to the Justice Department."

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"An inspector general is required to alert the Justice Department to the discovery of any classified materials that were found outside authorized government channels," continued the report. "Making a referral to the Justice Department would put senior officials in the position of having to decide whether to open an investigation, a scenario that would thrust the department into a highly contentious political matter."

It is unlikely that the former president broke any laws in removing the classified information. While the Espionage Act carries criminal penalties for removing such information without authorization, it requires proving that a person knowingly removed the unauthorized information, and the president also has ultimate authority to declassify documents.

However, the revelations come after Trump won the 2016 election, in part, because former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's campaign was wounded by months upon months of coverage about whether her personal email account she used for work had copies of classified documents on it — something Trump gleefully piled on to call for Clinton's arrest, and even publicly called on Russia to investigate by hacking her email.