Trump Took Classified Files as 'Get Out of Jail Free Card', Senator Says

Senator Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, said former President Donald Trump took classified information from the White House to either sell it or as a "get out of jail free card."

FBI agents raided Trump's Florida Mar-a-Lago residence on August 8, and seized 20 boxes containing more than 100 classified documents allegedly taken from the White House. Trump is now facing an investigation into the documents, and whether they were improperly stored, as experts have raised concerns that he could have left the documents vulnerable to espionage.

During an appearance on CNN on Saturday, Kaine, who was the party's vice presidential nominee in 2016, spoke about why Trump might have taken the documents, how the investigation could impact the United States' foreign relations, and whether allies may be worried about the U.S. leaving vulnerable classified secrets around.

"My gut tells me the reason that Donald Trump took all this classified information—I'm on the armed services and foreign relations community. I spend a lot of time in secure Senate facilities. I know what this information is like," he said. "The reason Trump took this with him to Florida was probably to try to either sell it or have it as a 'get out of jail free' card."

Tim Kaine: Why Trump took classified files
Above, Tim Kaine speaks at a rally in Miami on July 23, 2016. Kaine said Saturday that former President Donald Trump might have taken classified information from the White House to either sell it or to use it as a “get out of jail free” card during an appearance on CNN. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The senator also sought to reassure U.S. allies that their secrets remained safe under President Joe Biden's administration, which has denied knowing about the FBI raid in advance and has offered limited remarks about the investigation into Trump.

Kaine also called for Trump to face "consequences" for allegedly taking the documents when he left the White House last January.

"The DOJ effort, the FBI effort, to bring back these secrets so that Donald Trump doesn't have them and then have some consequences for him for taking them with him in an unauthorized way—it's really important that we impose accountability for this," he added.

Mar-a-Lago Investigation Latest Updates

As the Department of Justice's (DOJ) investigation into the ex-president continues, this week saw Trump and the DOJ debate about the special master. Trump's attorneys called for the special master to oversee investigators' review of the documents obtained at Mar-a-Lago. The request was granted on Monday. However, the DOJ has now appealed the decision.

Trump, meanwhile, has dismissed the investigation as being politically motivated and said he declassified all of the information kept at Mar-a-Lago, as presidents typically have the ability to declassify information they choose to.

The DOJ has not specified exactly what classified information the FBI seized from Mar-a-Lago. They released an affidavit related to the case last month, but it was largely redacted. However, The Washington Post reported this week that a document detailing a foreign government's defenses and nuclear capabilities was stored at Trump's resort residence.

Newsweek reached out to Trump's office for comment.