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Donald Trump seems to believe that some of the classified documents he has taken may reveal a “deep state” plot against him.

In his last days in the White House, Donald Trump told his top advisers that he needed to keep certain Russian-related documents to keep his enemies from destroying them.

The documents concerned a federal investigation into Russian interference in the election and alleged collusion with the Trump campaign. Late in his presidency, Trump and his team lobbied for the declassification of these so-called Russiagate documents, believing they would expose the Deep State conspiracy against him.

According to a person with direct knowledge of the situation and another source familiar with the matter, Trump told several people working in the White House that he feared that the new Joe Biden administration would “destroy”, bury or destroy “evidence” that Trump was kind of offended.

Following a search of his home, Trump declined to reveal what secret government papers and top secret documents he kept in Mar-a-Lago and what the FBI had seized. The federal authorities say little about the search and its results. It is not clear if any of the documents seized by Trump are linked to Russia or the election meddling investigation.

But Donald Trump, like his former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, have hinted that documents linked to Russia could be among the documents the FBI is looking for. “They thought it had something to do with the Russia, Russia, Russia hoax,” Trump said in a September 1 radio interview. They were afraid that there was something there.”

A month before the 2020 election, Ratcliffe declassified intelligence detailing how the United States obtained “Russian intelligence analysis” on the Hillary Clinton campaign. CIA director Gina Haspel and NSA chief Paul Nakasone reportedly opposed the declassification on the grounds that it could reveal how American spies obtained the information. Indeed, various other officials familiar with the internal debate felt that such declassification could expose confidential sources.

Other intelligence officials expressed concern that Ratcliffe would reveal even more potentially damaging information to US intelligence sources. “We were concerned that they were trying to counteract the Senate Intelligence Committee’s bipartisan approval of the 2017 assessment by selectively downplaying the intelligence that the House minority has pieced together to counter the narrative that Russia favors Trump,” says another former intelligence official. .

A 2017 assessment concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin was guilty of meddling in the 2016 election because he wanted Trump to win (which Putin himself half admitted at his 2018 summit with the former president in Finland). But Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, led by Devin Nunes, have repeatedly disputed that conclusion, although their Republican counterparts on the Senate Intelligence Committee agreed with it.

Mark Meadows and Trump worked to release the documents “minutes before” Biden’s inauguration. On Jan. 19, Trump sent a memorandum accepting the cuts to the FBI and ordering declassification. Meadows sent an additional memo on the day of Biden’s inauguration. The documents were never made public. But in a series of interviews, former public official Kash Patel said Trump asked him to help find and release the so-called Russiagate documents that the White House Counsel’s office sent to the National Archives in the last days of the administration.

Adam Ronsley and Asavin Suebseng

Translated by the editor

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