An Oval Office incident from 2019 perfectly illustrates Trump's approach to state secrets, say ex intel officials

What happened in the Oval Office on Aug. 30, 2019, perfectly illustrated President Donald Trump's approach to state secrets, say former intel officials.

Senior intelligence officials realized early on that President Donald Trump wasn’t going to read even short written summaries of his regular intelligence briefings. So the CIA officers who prepared the briefings made sure they came to the Oval Office laden with striking images, pared-down charts and slick graphics designed to grab the president’s fleeting interest, several officials familiar with the briefings told NBC News.

“To secure his attention, you had to use images and catchy headlines, even better if they had his name in them,” said Doug London, a former CIA officer who helped assemble the briefing material.

Trump pushes for release of documents seized in FBI searchAug. 16, 202202:49On Aug. 30, 2019, top spies learned the dangers of that approach. What unfolded that day became an infamous moment in the Trump presidency — one that former intelligence officials say perfectly illustrated his approach to dealing with state secrets. A former senior intelligence official with firsthand knowledge told NBC News that Trump did indeed tweet a highly classified image taken by a secret spy satellite, as many experts suspected at the time. And in doing so, the official and others said, Trump gave U.S. adversaries keen insights into the U.S. capabilities to spy from above.

“The president tweeted a picture of an Iranian missile launch site that showed a failed ICBM test launch that everybody acknowledged was a highly classified picture taken from space,” former national security adviser John Bolton, who was in Poland when it happened, told NBC News Monday. “He tweeted it out, and that of course declassified it by definition, but also showed what could happen when such a picture, even on a Twitter attachment, was then able to be analyzed by foreign intelligence services.”

Bolton and others familiar with it say the episode is emblematic of a mindset in which Trump or people close to him thought it was permissible to bring and store what the FBI says are highly classified documents to his compound in Mar-a-Lago.

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