The intelligence community’s assessment of the national security risks stemming from Trump’s possession of the classified documents is two-pronged, as Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines explained in a letter to congressional committee leaders last month. last. The first review focuses on the classification levels of the documents seized, and the second examines the national security fallout if the documents were improperly disclosed.
Both reviews intensified this week after a three-judge panel on Wednesday reversed major elements of a previous decision by U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon.
In his decision to grant Trump’s request for a special master to sift through classified documents and segregate potentially privileged material, Cannon barred the DOJ from using this set of documents to advance its criminal investigation.
She then clarified that her advance order should not prevent national security reviews from moving forward, but the DOJ said that was not enough because the two actions are “inextricably linked.” In a recent court filing, prosecutors said “the criminal investigation is itself essential to the government’s efforts to identify and mitigate potential national security risks.”
Prosecutors also argued Cannon’s order was impractical because the FBI — which executed the search warrant on Trump’s estate and is integral to the criminal investigation — is also a key member of the security community. intelligence and could be involved in damage assessment.
Wednesday’s ruling from the 11th Circuit blocked parts of Cannon’s order, allowing prosecutors to use documents with classification marks in the criminal investigation. The panel strongly rejected Cannon’s reasoning and adopted the DOJ’s assertions that the criminal review of records was a crucial part of assessing damage to national security.
“Neither party has offered anything beyond speculation to undermine [DOJ’s] representation – supported by sworn testimony – that the findings of the criminal investigation may be material to its consideration of national security,” the judges wrote.
Citing consultations with the Justice Department following Cannon’s initial decision, the ODNI said earlier this month that it had suspended “classification review of relevant documents and assessment of the potential national security risk that would result from the disclosure of the relevant documents,” according to a spokesperson.
An intelligence briefing for congressional leaders on the documents found at Mar-a-Lago was also put on hold after Cannon’s decision, but it’s unclear when that might happen. The work of the intelligence community is of paramount importance to members of Congress, especially the privileged few who have intelligence oversight responsibilities.
‘We haven’t heard anything,’ said Senate deputy intelligence chairman Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) Said in a brief interview this week. “I don’t know why they were so insensitive. I don’t see the reason for it. At some point we will have to increase the scrutiny.
Meanwhile, members of Congress have not yet been briefed on what was recovered from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate – or anything else related to the Justice Department’s investigation. . A heavily redacted document outlining the department’s reasons for seeking a search warrant for Trump’s home revealed that prosecutors were investigating possible violations of the Espionage Act, the Presidential Records Act and obstruction of justice.
“The main concern we have is whether any sources or methods have been compromised and now need to be mitigated,” the chairman of House Intelligence said. Adam Schiff (D-California) said Tuesday.
Nicholas Wu and Kyle Cheney contributed to this report.