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US intelligence to conduct risk assessment of Mar-a-Lago haul

Former US president Donald Trump speaks at a rally on Aug 5, 2022, in Waukesha, Wisconsin. (MORRY GASH / AP)

WASHINGTON – The US intelligence community will assess the potential risk to national security of disclosure of materials recovered during the Aug 8 search of former president Donald Trump's Florida residence, according to a letter seen by Reuters.

The letter dated Friday from National Intelligence Director (DNI) Avril Haines to House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff and Oversight Committee chair Carolyn Maloney also said the Justice Department and DNI "are working together to facilitate a classification review" of materials including those recovered during the search.

The Justice Department on Friday disclosed that it was investigating Trump for removing White House records because it believed he illegally held documents including some involving intelligence-gathering and clandestine human sources – among America's most closely held secrets

Schiff and Maloney said in a joint statement they were pleased the government was "assessing the damage caused by the improper storage of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago." Politico reported the letter earlier.

ALSO READ: US Justice Dept says Trump papers included material on intelligence

The Justice Department on Friday disclosed that it was investigating Trump for removing White House records because it believed he illegally held documents including some involving intelligence-gathering and clandestine human sources – among America's most closely held secrets. 

Haines said DNI "will also lead an Intelligence Community (IC) assessment of the potential risk to national security that would result from the disclosure of the relevant documents" including those seized.

A spokesman for Trump, Taylor Budowich, accused Schiff of being reckless with US intelligence and asserted Democrats had "weaponized the intel community against President Trump with selective and dishonest leaks."

The Justice Department on Friday released a heavily redacted affidavit that underpinned the FBI's extraordinary search of Mar-a-Lago in which agents seized 11 sets of classified records including some labeled "top secret" as documents that could gravely threaten national security if exposed.

ALSO READ: FBI finds 700-plus pages of classified records at Trump's home

In the affidavit, an unidentified FBI agent said the agency reviewed and identified 184 documents "bearing classification markings" containing "national defense information" after Trump in January returned 15 boxes of government records sought by the US National Archives. Other records in those boxes, according to the affidavit, bore handwritten notes by Trump.

Schiff and Maloney said the Justice Department release Friday "affirms our grave concern that among the documents stored at Mar-a-Lago were those that could endanger human sources. It is critical that the IC move swiftly to assess and, if necessary, to mitigate the damage done."

Haines wrote DNI will closely coordinate with the Justice Department to "ensure this IC assessment is conducted in a manner that does not unduly interfere with DOJ's ongoing criminal investigation."

The search was part of a federal investigation into whether Trump illegally removed and kept documents when he left office in January 2021 after losing the 2020 election to President Joe Biden and whether Trump tried to obstruct the probe.

READ MORE: Trump seeks to temporarily block FBI from reviewing haul

Trump, a Republican who is considering another presidential run in 2024, has described the court-approved search at the Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach as politically motivated, and on Friday again described it as a "break-in."