Disbelief as foreign press covers Trump’s classified documents scandal

Disbelief as foreign press covers Trump’s classified documents scandal
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News & Politics

The international press has been following Donald Trump’s classified documents scandal and four key countries may have significant national interests at stake if any of the information was compromised.

"When Donald Trump's Florida home was searched earlier this week, it unleashed a political firestorm unlike anything in recent memory," British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) correspondent Gareth Evans reported. "The FBI took 11 sets of classified files in total, including four that were labeled 'top secret'. Three sets were classified as 'secret documents' and three were 'confidential.'"

The cache also included files marked "TS/SCI", a designation for the country's most important secrets that if revealed publicly could cause "exceptionally grave" damage to US national security.

On the other side of the world, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) was also covering the scandal under the headline, "Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago was a 'nightmare' environment for housing classified documents, experts say."

"Early in his presidency, he spontaneously gave highly classified information to Russia's foreign minister about a planned Islamic State operation while he was in the Oval Office, US officials said at the time. But it was at Mar-a-Lago that US intelligence seemed especially at risk," the Australian network reported.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation interviewed former Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary McCord.

"Even just retention of highly classified documents in improper storage — particularly given Mar-a-Lago, the foreign visitors there and others who might have connections with foreign governments and foreign agents — creates a significant national security threat," said McCord. "Clearly they thought it was very serious to get these materials back into secured space."

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) used the headline, "Trump under investigation for Espionage Act violations, FBI search warrant reveals."

"US media speculated they feared nuclear secrets could get out without urgent action," CBC reported.

Radio New Zealand (RNZ) featured the headline, "FBI removed top secret documents from Trump's home, Justice Department says."

"FBI agents took more than 30 items including more than 20 boxes, binders of photos, a handwritten note and the executive grant of clemency for Trump's ally and longtime adviser Roger Stone, a list of items removed from the property showed," RNZ reported. "Numerous federal laws prohibit the mishandling of classified material, including the Espionage Act as well as another statute that prohibits the unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or material. Trump increased the penalties for this while he was in office, making it a felony punishable by up to five years in prison."

These four countries may have important self-interest in whether the documents were compromised. Included in the 15 boxes recovered from Mar-a-Lago in January were reportedly "signals intel" information.

Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States together form "The Five Eyes" — which the UK Defense Journal describes as the "intelligence alliance of the Anglosphere."

"The Five Eyes was formally founded in the aftermath of the Second World War, through the multilateral agreement for co-operation in signals intelligence (SIGINT), known as the UKUSA Agreement, on 5 March 1946," UK Defense Journal explained. "Initially, compromising only the UK and the United States, it expanded to also include Canada in 1948 and Australia and New Zealand in 1956, all of these last three English-speaking countries, members of the Commonwealth of Nations and with similar political systems when compared to Britain. Thereby, the ‘Five Eyes’ term was created from the lengthy ‘AUS/CAN/NZ/UK/ Eyes Only’ classification level that included the ‘eyes’ that could have access to high profile papers and information."

Watch the BBC's report on Donald Trump below or at this link.

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