We may never know the real answer to this question unless someone very close to Trump spills the beans. I have read many times or seen on TV interviews with Trump White House staff who said that Trump was not interested in intelligence briefings, that he seldom read the reports or the daily briefings, that he frequently ripped up important documents. Yet he took many boxes of documents with him when he left.

Some of the documents in the boxes that were retrieved in January and in August were classified as top secret. Some were marked HCS, meaning “Human Intelligence Control System.” Such documents identify sources who are our agents in other countries. Some folders marked”Classified” or “Top secret” were empty. Where were the contents?

The New York Times reported:


Mr. Trump and his defenders have claimed he declassified the material he took to Mar-a-Lago. But documents retrieved from him in January included some marked “HCS,” for Human Intelligence Control System. Such documents have material that could possibly identify C.I.A. informants, meaning a general, sweeping declassification of them would have been, at best, misguided.

“HCS information is tightly controlled because disclosure could jeopardize the life of the human source,” said John B. Bellinger III, a former legal adviser to the National Security Council in the George W. Bush administration. “It would be reckless to declassify an HCS document without checking with the agency that collected the information to ensure that there would be no damage if the information were disclosed.”

In October 2021, the New York Times reported that U.S. intelligence officials sent a cable to all of its overseas agencies warning that an unusually high number of CIA undercover agents had been captured and/or killed in recent years.

Top American counterintelligence officials warned every C.I.A. station and base around the world last week about troubling numbers of informants recruited from other countries to spy for the United States being captured or killed, people familiar with the matter said.

And Trump took home with him a huge number of highly sensitive documents that included some identifying human sources of information in other countries. Some of the top secret files were empty.

Hmmm. Does 2+2=4?

Why would he want those names? How valuable would they be to his friends in other countries? What were they worth? To whom?

One consistent feature in Trump’s life: it’s always about money.