Trump claims he declassified all documents at Mar-a-Lago. Even if it’s true, it probably doesn’t matter

On the other hand, laws against the taking or hoarding of material containing restricted national security information, which generally carries heavier penalties than the theft of ordinary documents, do not always correspond to the question of whether the files are technically classified.

Indeed, some criminal statutes enacted by Congress to protect certain national security information operate separately from the system for classifying executive records — created by presidents using executive orders — such as “confidential,” “ secret” or “top secret”.

In particular, a third law referred to in the warrant was Section 793, which carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison per violation. Better known as the Espionage Act, it was enacted by Congress during World War I, decades before President Harry S. Truman issued an executive order creating the modern executive branch classification system.

Accordingly, the Espionage Act makes no reference to whether a document has been deemed classified. Instead, it makes it a crime to retain, without authorization, documents related to national defense that could be used to harm the United States or aid a foreign adversary.

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