Nuclear Secrets Already Fell Into the Wrong Hands—Trump's | Opinion

It's been a wild week since the FBI's shocking raid of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago compound. First the Washington Post reported, on Thursday, that Trump had improperly taken nuclear-related documents to his Florida mansion, and then on Friday, we learned that the search warrant was executed under the Espionage Act, potentially deepening Trump's legal predicament. And of course, it was a week from hell for law enforcement, which contended with real and threatened violence from enraged MAGA supporters whose vengeful wrath Trump did nothing to mollify. The whole sordid affair only underscored the profound recklessness of ever trusting such a person with America's highest office and most sensitive security information.

We still do not, of course, know exactly what the FBI found. But on Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported that more than 11 sets of classified documents of various levels of secrecy were seized as well as other items including a copy of a clemency order for Trump consigliere Roger Stone. Even if Trump was not planning to sell or transfer nuclear secrets to the Saudis or otherwise monetize the information, the fact that this kind of information was just boxed up like old tax returns in a barely-secured country club storage room is literally unbelievable—of anyone else. Every functioning intelligence organization on the planet probably has a plant at Mar-a-Lago, which looks about as secure one of Trump's own walls on the Mexican border and is inhabited by a coterie of slipshod, grievance-obsessed crooks.

Trump Impersonator in Prison Jumpsuit
A Donald Trump impersonator walks by Trump Tower as dozens of members of the news media wait to see if Donald Trump will return to his residence in Manhattan on Aug. 10, 2022. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Trump is a living, breathing security hazard, whose opaque finances, history of bankruptcy and shady real estate deals, longstanding business ties with tyrannical regimes, and open fondness for Russian strongman Vladimir Putin make him vulnerable to any and all types of subversion.

Even during his first campaign, he behaved bizarrely, asked questions about why we couldn't use our nuclear weapons, sought and obtained the assistance of Russian agents to smear rival Hillary Clinton, employed a private security force rather than trusting the Secret Service, and displayed such a galactic void of knowledge about American institutions and laws that 50 Republican national security professionals signed a letter in August of 2016 imploring voters to cast him aside.

The president of the United States has the power to end all life on Earth with a simple command. It's why I warned that a man "with impulse control problems and no moral compass" should never be entrusted with the nuclear codes when he could barely keep it together on the set of Celebrity Apprentice or contain his decade-old grievances against comedian Rosie O'Donnell. And indeed, during his presidency Trump undermined national security and risked global Armageddon in so many ways it would be impossible to recount in a single article, from impetuously tweeting us to the verge of nuclear war with North Korea to extorting the president of a vulnerable ally for dirt on his likely 2020 opponent and then finally running a Keystone Coup operation to prevent the transfer of power to the democratically elected government of the United States. It's honestly a miracle that any of us—let alone American democracy—are still here.

The threat remains. Trump probably intends to run again for the presidency in 2024 and currently remains eligible to do so due to the cravenness of his creatures in Congress, who refused to convict him in the Senate after he nearly got them all killed on Jan. 6, 2021. Instead, in an ongoing and grimly embarrassing display of footman-like obeisance, congressional Republicans continue to carry water for him, either because they are true believers, or because they are otherwise sane and rational people who fear his wrath and whose ambitions have gained the upper hand over their consciences. Even today, colleagues hawk merch emblazoned with slogans like "Defund the FBI," and most elected Republicans can't bring themselves to express minimal trust in the nation's institutions.

That's why worries about riling up the MAGA crowd by acting against Trump were always misplaced at best. Trump continues to pose an existential threat to Americans and our democracy. The level of cavalier indifference to the sovereignty and security of the country needed to store highly sensitive nuclear materials in your house should alone disqualify the man from election to a school board.

With Trump, there's always an angle, a grift, either a self-interested plot to aggrandize himself and his family at our expense or an unapologetic plan to help America's adversaries gain the upper hand. Or both.

In the coming days, we will find out exactly what Trump was doing with America's secrets. But he never should have had access to them in the first place.

David Faris is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Roosevelt University and the author of It's Time to Fight Dirty: How Democrats Can Build a Lasting Majority in American Politics. His writing has appeared in The Week, The Washington Post, The New Republic, Washington Monthly, and more. You can find him on Twitter @davidmfaris.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.