Here’s how government categorizes its most sensitive data.

F.B.I. The F.B.I.

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that federal agents had taken 11 sets of classified documents from the search. Some were classified as top secret and made available only to government officials.

Special access programs were historically reserved for highly sensitive operations by the United States or closely held technologies and capabilities. This could include covert operations against adversaries or the development and use of special surveillance and weapon technologies such as stealth aircrafts and hypersonic missiles.

SAPs, as these programs are sometimes called, do not indicate a higher classification. They are meant to restrict access to top-secret or secret information. They are used when specific information is shared poses a greater threat of damaging disclosures or when a “secret”, or “top secret,” classification is not sufficiently protective.

A SAP can only be created by a select few cabinet officials, including secretaries of defense and state, and the director of intelligence. Information contained within a SAP cannot be accessed by more than a handful of officials, including President Trump and his top national security officers. Material designated SAP, like all sensitive intelligence, is closely monitored to see who has used it.

The Friday government inventory of items taken from Mar-a-Lago did not mention SAP. However, some documents were marked “ts/sci” meaning that the items are classified as top secret and can only be accessed in a government facility.

The Washington Post reported the F.B.I. had found among its materials. Documents relating to nuclear weapons were what the F.B.I. was looking for in their search.

In January 2017, Donald Trump gave the National Archives 15 boxes of material that he had taken with him to his office. After identifying classified material in the boxes, the archives referred the matter back to the Justice Department which convened a grand jury.


It’s not clear what documents Mr. Trump may still have, or why. These documents were often called “my intelligence” and “mine” by Trump, and he frequently reviewed them during his trips to Mar-a-Lago as a president.