Trump under investigation for possible violation of US espionage law

Donald Trump is being investigated for potentially mishandling US national defense information in violation of the Espionage Act, as well as other possible violations related to the handling of government records, according to the warrant of the FBI to search the former president’s home.

The search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate on Monday, which sparked a backlash among his political supporters, resulted in the recovery of a trove of classified and highly sensitive documents related to national security, court documents have revealed. released on Friday.

The warrant, which was signed by a federal judge on August 5, called on the FBI to search Trump’s office as well as “all storage rooms” and premises used by the former president and his staff.

He also asked federal agents to seize “all physical documents and records constituting evidence, contraband, proceeds of crime and other items” that may have violated the law in one of three possible ways. The first concerned the “collection, loss or transmission of defense information” under the Espionage Act – a serious national security crime – while the second and third concerned the removal, destruction, altering or concealing federal documents.

The court filing also contained a list of items recovered by federal agents from Trump’s property. This included information relating to the ‘President of France’, the ‘pardon granted’ to Trump ally Roger Stone, photo binders, a handwritten note – and, most importantly, a variety of top secret and classified documents that require special government attention.

The search warrant underscored the seriousness of the investigation against Trump. The FBI and Justice Department had no further comment beyond the court’s filing of the search warrant. The DoJ had called for the warrant to be released, but Trump also ultimately supported its release. The warrant was given to his lawyers on the day of the search.

The revelation that Trump had highly classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate — including at least one that applied to a foreign leader — will bolster DoJ and FBI claims they acted appropriately in their decision. to search his home.

The Washington Post reported late Thursday that some of the documents were related to nuclear weapons, though the FBI, DoJ and National Security Council declined to comment on that report.

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In a series of posts on Truth Social on Friday, Trump derided the research and any suggestion of wrongdoing as politically motivated persecution. “The issue of nuclear weapons is a hoax, just like Russia, Russia, Russia was a hoax,” he wrote, referring to Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference. in the 2016 US presidential election while in office.

Trump also continued to blast the FBI — “the same shady people involved” — and said US law enforcement could have obtained the documents at Mar-a-Lago at any time. “THEY JUST HAVE TO ASK. »

However, prosecutors had been in talks for weeks with Trump and his team about the importance of producing the documents – so much so that they issued them a subpoena earlier this year.

Even with the release of the search warrant and inventory list, the motivation behind the search at Mar-a-Lago will not be fully known until an affidavit supporting the warrant is made public or charges will only be brought by federal prosecutors.

The DoJ had declined to comment on the Trump investigation for three days after the raid, sticking to its policy of not commenting on ongoing cases. But on Thursday, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a brief statement following criticism that he had offered no explanation for the decision.

Garland did not provide any new details about the investigation, but said he personally endorsed the research and would not take such a step “lightly”. He also fiercely defended the work of the FBI and DoJ after they were the focus of vitriolic criticism from Trump and his US hard-right allies.

Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a California Democrat, said documents produced on Friday suggested the search was warranted.

“If the reports are accurate and contained among these documents, it is some of the most classified information our government has. . . that would then go a long way to explaining why the department and the FBI made the decision to obtain a warrant to retrieve the documents,” he said. “Every day that information of such classification sits in an unsecured location poses a risk to our national security.”

But Republicans remained skeptical. “Where’s the affidavit?” We have yet to see the affidavit,” tweeted Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator from South Carolina.

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