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Former CIA chief appears to endorse execution for Americans who spill nuclear secrets after new Trump allegations

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Chris Maddaloni/Roll Call/Getty Images

Should execution be on the table for Americans who allegedly spill nuclear secrets?

Former CIA Director Michael Hayden appeared to endorse the idea late Thursday after new allegations accused former President Donald Trump of storing highly classified documents with nuclear information at Mar-a-Lago.

What is the background?

After Attorney General Merrick Garland admitted on Thursday that he personally approved the FBI raid on Trump's south Florida residence, the Washington Post reported, citing anonymous sources, that FBI agents raided Mar-a-Lago to retrieve documents with nuclear information.

The sources with whom the Post spoke "did not offer additional details about what type of information the agents were seeking, including whether it involved weapons belonging to the United States or some other nation. Nor did they say if such documents were recovered as part of the search," according to the newspaper.

If the sources are correct, it would explain why the Justice Department took such aggressive action against Trump by searching his private residence.

What did Hayden say?

After the Washington Post levied its allegations, NBC News presidential historian Michael Beschloss went viral with a tweet in which he reminded Americans the U.S. government has previously executed Americans for leaking nuclear secrets.

"Rosenbergs were convicted for giving U.S. nuclear secrets to Moscow, and were executed June 1953," Beschloss tweeted.

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed after being convicted of leaking top-secret information to the Soviets. The information contained state secrets on nuclear weapons, jet engines, radar, sonar, and other invaluable technologies.

In response to Beschloss, Hayden, also a former four-star general, appeared to endorse execution as the appropriate punishment for those who leak nuclear secrets.

"Sounds about right," Hayden tweeted.

Hayden also "retweeted" another person who suggested the alleged actions amount to espionage.

What did Trump say?

The former president pushed back against the allegations on Friday, denouncing them as a "hoax."

While it remains unclear whether the documents supporting the search warrant will be released publicly, one wonders why the Justice Department would have waited so long to retrieve documents from Trump if they in fact contained information on nuclear weapons.

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