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Bolton says handling of records at Mar-a-Lago shows “disdain” for the seriousness of classification


John Bolton, onetime national security adviser under former President Trump, said the discovery of things like newspaper clippings in the same boxes as documents marked classified displays the former president’s “disdain” for the seriousness of classification issues. 

Bolton made the comment in a Friday interview with CBS News’ senior investigative correspondent Catherine Herridge. On Friday morning, new court records revealed the inventory of records the FBI seized during last month’s search at Mar-a-Lago. The inventory detailed scores of documents marked classified mingled with items like photographs, clothing items and newspaper clippings, as well as empty classified folders. 

Herridge asked Bolton about the national security implications of the co-mingling of these records. 

“Well, to the extent that the newspaper clippings were treated like most people in this country would treat newspaper clippings, it shows a real disdain for the seriousness of the classification at issue,” Bolton told Herridge. “In most offices, you would have a very clear segregation of the sensitive classified material locked in safes handled very carefully versus all the unclassified material. This to me is more evidence that Donald Trump didn’t give much attention to the sensitivity of the classified information.”

Bolton told CBS News in an August interview that the former president’s handling of classified information “worried” him. Trump’s regular intelligence briefings sometimes included discussions of nuclear weapons information, said Bolton, a lifelong conservative but now a Trump critic. In many cases, Bolton said, intelligence briefers would bring pictures or graphs for the president to see and hand them to him.

“Often, the president would say, ‘Well, can I keep this?’ And in my experience, the intelligence briefers most often would say, ‘Well sir, we’d prefer to take that back,'” Bolton said. “But sometimes they forgot.” 

The fact that Trump wanted to hold onto sensitive documents concerned Bolton.

“My concern was that he didn’t feel that the confidentiality of much of this information was as important as we knew it to be,” Bolton said. “It just didn’t register with him that safeguarding this information for its own sake, and because of the risk to sources and methods of obtaining the intelligence, could be jeopardized.” 

After the more detailed inventory list was released, Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich tweeted Friday that the new list “only further proves that this unprecedented and unnecessary raid of President Trump’s home was not some surgical, confined search and retrieval that the Biden administration claims, it was a SMASH AND GRAB.”

Herridge’s full interview will air on CBS News streaming at 7 p.m. ET. 



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