Trump probed for potential violations of Espionage Act: Warrant
Donald Trump is being investigated for potentially violating the espionage act, as well as obstruction of justice and other statutes.
Former US President Donald Trump is facing a criminal investigation over potential violations of the Espionage Act and additional statutes relating to obstruction of justice, as well as the destruction of federal government records, according to the search warrant executed by FBI agents at the former President’s home on Monday.
The search warrant shows that the federal investigation agency was after evidence that would convict Trump of mishandling classified documents, including several that were marked "top secret", which would have constituted a violation of three criminal statutes.
The search warrant authorized FBI agents to seize materials from Trump's Mar-a-Lago home to probe him for potentially violating the Espionage Act outlawing unauthorized retention of national security information that could "harm the United States or aid an adversary."
Other statuses cited by the FBI's warrant include his potential violation of the federal law banning the destruction or concealment of documents that would serve as a means of obstructing an investigation conducted by the government, in addition to the federal law prohibiting the unlawful and unauthorized removal of government documents.
The warrant being authorized with the obstruction statures suggest that the Justice Department was investigating the former President not only for potentially unlawfully retaining records but also for attempting a separate, wider criminal inquiry.
The violation of the Espionage Act has a possible punishment of 10 years in federal prison, the statute for obstruction carries a maximum sentence of 20 years, and the statute for the destruction of records carries a potential lifetime ban on holding public office.
Days after the FBI raided Trump's Mar-a-Lago property in Palm Beach, Florida, the contents of the search warrant were made public. They took 11 boxes worth of papers, including data deemed to be so secret that they could not be stated individually in the "receipt" of what was taken.
Trump on Friday dismissed a report that the FBI raided his Mar-a-Lago residence with the aim of searching for classified nuclear weapon documents.
"Nuclear weapons issue is a Hoax, just like Russia, Russia, Russia was a Hoax, two Impeachments were a Hoax, the Muller investigation was a Hoax and much more. Same sleazy people," Trump wrote on Truth Social.
Trump also questioned why the FBI wouldn't allow his lawyers to be present during the inspection, accusing them of 'planting' evidence in the mansion.
A day earlier, US Attorney General Merrick Garland said he "personally approved" the FBI raid on former US President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home in Florida.
Garland did not reveal why the raid - which raised many eyebrows mostly due to it being unusual for law enforcement to raid the home of a former US President - took place. He condemned the "unfounded attacks" on the FBI and the Department of Justice that followed suit.
The dramatic FBI raid on Donald Trump's palatial Florida residence has supercharged the bitter, polarizing political debate around the slew of judicial investigations facing the former President as he considers another White House run.
Trump later on, with a copy of the search warrant in his possession while declining to reveal its contents, said he would not oppose the unsealing of the warrant.
Trump reiterated his claim that the search was an "unprecedented political weaponization of law enforcement," which was later called out by Andrew Weissman, a former Justice Department official. He said Garland had "called Trump's bluff" by making it his responsibility to object or consent to the release of the document.
Trump hit out at the Justice Department on Friday, saying in a statement he had declassified all of the records in question. "It was all declassified."
Everyone seemed skeptical regarding his claims, in part because the seized documents retained their original classified markings, a source familiar with the matter said.
Trump has offered no details about how the supposed declassification took place, and a former Trump administration aide, Kash Patel, has said that even though Trump did declassify the records, the White House counsel’s office never provided the required paperwork.
The newspaper did not clarify if the nuclear weapons involved belonged to the United States or another country nor whether they were found.
The whole debacle with the Department of Justice deals a Trump mighty legal blow, which constitutes his latest, as he fights numerous other cases, including the January 6 attack on the Capitol, which obstructs his path to a new presidency at the White House in 2024.
The disclosure of the contents of the search warrant and the receipt came hours before the deadline for Trump and his legal team, led by Evan Corcoran, to oppose a motion by the Justice Department to make public both no-longer-sealed documents.