from Sputnik News:
After former US President Donald Trump publicized the FBI raid on his Mar-a-Lago estate on Monday evening, many speculated it could have been related to the January 6 probe by the US House of Representatives or that potential charges might involve the Presidential Records Act. However, the unsealed search warrant reveals a far more serious case.
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When FBI agents raided Trump’s Florida estate on Monday, they were doing so on suspicion the former president had violated the 1917 Espionage Act or obstructed an investigation, in addition to illegally removing or destroying documents, the unsealed search warrant
Under the category of “property to be seized,” the warrant says agents must take “all physical documents and records constituting evidence, contraband, fruits of crime, or other items illegally possessed in violation of” three different US laws:
18 U.S. Code § 793 – Gathering, transmitting or losing defense information, which is part of the Espionage Act
18 U.S. Code § 2071 – Concealment, removal, or mutilation generally, which is part of a section concerning the handling of records and reports
18 U.S. Code § 1519 – Destruction, alteration, or falsification of records in Federal investigations and bankruptcy, which is part of a section dealing with obstruction of justice
The warrant further delineates which documents should be seized under that umbrella, including:
Any physical documents with classification markings, along with any containers/boxes (including any other contents) in which such documents are located, as well as any other containers/boxes that are collectively stored or found together with the aforementioned documents and containers/boxes
Information, including communications in any form, regarding the retrieval, storage, or transmission of national defense information or classified material
Any government and/or Presidential Records created between January 20, 2017, and January 20, 2021
Any evidence of the knowing alteration, destruction, or concealment of any government and/or Presidential Records, or of any documents with classification markings
The dossier of files accompanying the warrant included a list of what was taken
from Mar-a-Lago, including 20 boxes of files and 11 sets of classified documents, some of which were described as top secret. Others included a handwritten note with unknown content, the executive grant of clemency for Roger Stone, and unspecified information about French President Emmanuel Macron.
A previous report by the Washington Post
, citing anonymous sources, also indicated that some of the documents in question concerned nuclear weapons, but the list included with the warrant does not go into detail about individual files in any of the boxes, folders, or binders that were seized.
Trump has denied having secret documents at Mar-a-Lago, saying on Friday that they had all been declassified. He is believed to have taken them from the White House when he left office in January 2021 instead of surrendering them to the US National Archives. The Archives has already retrieved 15 boxes
from the Florida estate and subpoenaed the remaining
files earlier this year.
The Espionage Act dates to World War I and was originally intended to prevent disclose of information to US enemies that could hinder the war effort and to block interference with military recruitment, the latter of which led to Socialist Party leader Eugene Debs being imprisoned under it for speaking out against the draft. However, it was later expanded by the McCarran Internal Security Act of 1950 to include “retention” of information, regardless of intent to distribute it.
The law has been used to prosecute numerous journalists and whistleblowers in recent years, including Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, John Kiriakou, Reality Winner
, Daniel Hale, and Julian Assange
. Ironically, several of those charges were brought by Trump’s own Department of Justice while he was president.
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