Members of President Donald Trump’s transition team copied and removed “highly sensitive” documents from a secure room at its Washington headquarters, according to a report from Julie Pace of The Associated Press.
The report, which was based on interviews with 11 current and former US officials, said President Barack Obama’s national-security team became so concerned with the incoming administration’s handling of classified information that it allowed Trump’s team to view some documents only at the White House.
The documents presumably were removed from a sensitive compartmented information facility, or SCIF — an enclosed room used to read and discuss intelligence matters of the highest sensitivity. Access to SCIFs is tightly controlled, and electronic devices are not allowed inside.
Concerns about the White House’s handling of classified information were on full display in February. At a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Mar-a-Lago in Florida, Trump and his advisers were photographed in an “open-air situation room” viewing documents about a North Korean missile launch.
Some aides even used their phone flashlights to help Abe and Trump view the documents.
Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn led Trump’s national-security team during the transition. Though Flynn was ousted as national security adviser weeks into Trump’s presidency, he reportedly had flouted rules about classified materials while heading the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Flynn installed a secret internet connection into his office at the Pentagon even though it was “forbidden,” according to a profile in The New Yorker by Dana Priest.
The former DIA chief also snuck out of a CIA station in Iraq without authorization and shared classified information with NATO allies without approval because he found those rules to be “stupid,” according to The New Yorker.