Colwell: Why did Trump take documents? Three likely reasons.

Let us today ponder a question now so often asked: Why did Donald Trump take all of those top-secret documents to his Mar-a-Lago resort?

He hasn’t fessed up. Never will.

But based on the pattern of how Trump is motivated, we can narrow the most likely reasons down to three.

Q. What three?

A. Revenge. Blackmail. Profit.

Q. Could Trump find a way to use sneaked-away security documents for revenge?

A. Sure. Revenge clearly is a goal in Trump’s continued political involvement, and leaking harmful secrets could be a slashing tool in achieving it. A funny or not so funny example: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky wouldn’t manufacture dirt on Joe Biden before the election. So, Trump could get revenge by delivering information about Ukrainian secrets to the leader of some country now in conflict with Ukraine.

Q. Could Trump use highly-classified U.S. intelligence information for blackmail?

A. Yep. A funny or not so funny example: Suppose there’s something extremely embarrassing that could ruin French President Emmanuel Macron. Trump, in running again for president, could ask Macron to stop criticizing Trump’s approach to NATO. Then Trump could mention the embarrassing information and add in passing that it would be a shame if that nasty, embarrassing stuff reached Paris newspapers.

Q. Could Trump profit financially from secret information he had in all those boxes?

A. Of course. And he needs many, many millions to pay off business debts and hire attorneys. A funny or not so funny example: Think of how much his friend Vladimir Putin’s Russian oligarchs would pay for certain CIA information. They could find out how we know so much about Putin’s health. Think of what the Saudis could afford. Think of bidding on information about Israel.

Q. Wait. Would Trump actually do any of these things?

A. Would he incite a riot at the Capitol? Would he leave his long-loyal vice president at the mercy of a mob calling for his hanging? Would he keep claiming he won by a landslide in an election he knows he lost?

Q. Isn’t it possible that Trump took all that classified material to Florida by mistake, through incompetence or stupidity, as he huffed his way out of the White House?

A. That’s cited as a possibility. But I’ll stick up for Trump. I don’t believe he’s that stupid. I think he knew what was being taken and how he might use it.

Q. How did the Justice Department know that so much important material was stashed away at Mar-a-Lago and where to look for it, with enough information to justify a search warrant?

A. There had to be an inside informant.

Q. Somebody close to Trump?

A. Well, it wasn’t a stranger who wandered off the golf course and just happened to see some boxes that looked suspicious.

Q. Why would somebody close to Trump do that?

A. Likely a decision that protecting national security was more important than protecting Trump. Kind of like how Mike Pence decided that following the Constitution was more important than following Trump’s wishes to overturn the election results.

Q. Do many people really care what Trump took and whether the FBI got it back?

A. A lot do, some because of what he took and others because it was taken back. Outrage among Trump detractors over the boxes of documents that he took and wouldn’t return brings calls for criminal charges. Outrage among MAGA believers over the search and recovery of the documents brings charges of Gestapo tactics and calls to defund the FBI.

Q. Will Mar-a-Lago go down in history?

A. Yes. Just as far down as Trump

Jack Colwell is a columnist for The Tribune. Write to him in care of The Tribune or by email at

Jack Colwell
Jack Colwell

This article originally appeared on South Bend Tribune: Why did Donald Trump take those top-secret documents to Mar-a-Lago?