Trump is being investigated for possible violations of the Espionage Act, according to a warrant

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Donald Trump in New York this week, days after the FBI searched his home in south Florida.


Trump is being investigated for possible violations of the Espionage Act, according to a warrant.

Details contained in an explosive search warrant show US officials investigating whether three criminal statutes were violated. According to the search warrant executed by FBI agents at the former president’s home on Monday, Donald Trump is under criminal investigation for potential violations of the Espionage Act and additional statutes relating to obstruction of justice and destroying federal government records.

The search warrant, the contents of which were confirmed by the Guardian, shows that the FBI was looking for evidence about whether Trump’s mishandling of classified documents, including some marked top secret, constituted a violation of three criminal statutes.

The search warrant, in particular, authorized FBI agents to seize materials from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in order to investigate crimes related to the Espionage Act, which prohibits the unauthorized retention of national security information that could harm the United States or aid an adversary.

The warrant also lists federal laws that make it a crime to destroy or conceal a document in order to obstruct a government investigation, as well as federal laws that prohibit the unlawful removal of government documents in general.

The inclusion of the obstruction statute could indicate that the Justice Department is investigating Trump not only for potentially illegal record retention, but also whether he attempted to obstruct a separate, or broader, criminal investigation.

The search warrant’s contents were made public days after FBI agents seized 11 boxes of materials from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, including records deemed so sensitive that they could not be individually listed in the “receipt” of what was removed.
According to the warrant, the most sensitive documents removed from Trump’s post-presidency home in Florida were listed generically as “Various Classified/TS/SCI” – the abbreviation for top secret/sensitive compartmented information.

The FBI retrieved 11 sets of classified documents, some of which were marked top secret, according to the Wall Street Journal. According to the receipt, federal agents also took four sets of top secret documents, three sets of secret documents, and three sets of confidential documents.

The search warrant receipt provided no additional information about the content of the classified documents. Other items removed from Mar-a-Lago included photo binders, information on the “President of France,” and a clemency grant for Trump political operative Roger Stone.

In the midst of a rapidly escalating controversy, Trump lashed out at the Justice Department on Friday, claiming in a statement that he had declassified all relevant records. “Everything was declassified,” Trump claimed.

According to a source familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation, the former president’s claim was met with immediate skepticism, in part because the seized documents appeared to retain their original classified markings.

The receipt for property that was seized during the execution of a search warrant by the FBI at Mar a Lago.

The search warrant receipt provided no additional information about the content of the classified documents. Other items removed from Mar-a-Lago included photo binders, information on the “President of France,” and a clemency grant for Trump political operative Roger Stone.

In the midst of a rapidly escalating controversy, Trump lashed out at the Justice Department on Friday, claiming in a statement that he had declassified all relevant records. “Everything was declassified,” Trump claimed.

According to a source familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation, the former president’s claim was met with immediate skepticism, in part because the seized documents appeared to retain their original classified markings.

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.

But whether the former president actually declassified the documents may not ultimately matter. The Espionage Act, for instance, does not distinguish between classified and declassified materials – unauthorized retention of any document relevant to the statute remains a crime.

Documents marked as top secret are also meant only to be viewed in secure rooms known as a sensitive compartmented information facilities, or SCIF, and their presence in a basement storage area at Mar-a-Lago appears to satisfy the technical elements of a violation of law.

In a statement, the House intelligence committee chairman, Adam Schiff, said the classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago were a potential security issue. “Every day that information of such a classification sits in an unsecure location is a risk to our national security,” Schiff said.

“The protection of classified information, and particularly the protection of sources and methods, is an issue of the highest priority for the intelligence committee, and as we learn more, we will responsibly discharge our oversight responsibilities,” Schiff said. The committee the California Democrat chairs oversees the FBI as well as other federal law enforcement agencies.

After the contents of the warrant became public on Friday, calls and texts to Trump’s lawyers and aides went unanswered. A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment.

The release of the search warrant and receipt came just hours before the deadline for Trump and his legal team, led by Evan Corcoran, to oppose the Justice Department’s motion to make public both documents, which are no longer sealed.

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the motion to unseal in prepared remarks at the Justice Department on Thursday, but it does not currently include the affidavit accompanying the warrant, which would provide more detail on the probable cause that led to the approval of the Mar-a-Lago raid.

bbcnews.me

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