The DOJ is investigating if Trump broke 3 federal laws, including the Espionage Act, when he took government records to Mar-a-Lago
- The DOJ is investigating if Trump broke at least 3 federal laws related to the handling of national security information.
- One of them is a key facet of the Espionage Act and the others relate to the concealment and destruction of federal records.
The Justice Department is investigating if former President Donald Trump violated three federal laws involving the handling of national security information when he moved government documents from the White House to Mar-a-Lago upon leaving office.
One of the laws is a key facet of the Espionage Act and relates to the removal of information pertaining to the US's national defense. The other two laws relate to the concealment or destruction of government records.
The right-wing news website Breitbart first published details about what Trump was being investigated for after it obtained the warrant to search Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence in South Florida. A federal judge on Friday unsealed the warrant and an accompanying inventory of items seized in the raid.
According to the warrant, the Justice Department is scrutinizing whether Trump broke laws against gathering, transmitting, or losing defense information; the destruction, alteration, or falsification of records with the intent to obstruct an ongoing matter; and the concealment, removal, or mutilation of records.
According to the inventory of items seized in the raid, the FBI recovered 11 sets of classified records from Mar-a-Lago, some of which were marked top secret and meant to be stored in special government facilities because of their sensitive nature. The Wall Street Journal first reported on details about the seized items Friday.
The inventory listed "various classified/TS/SCI documents," referring to documents marked top secret; miscellaneous confidential, secret, and top-secret documents; and a number of other boxes.
Agents also recovered Trump's executive grant of clemency for the GOP strategist Roger Stone; information about the president of France; a potential presidential record; a handwritten note; binders of photos; and a leatherbound box of documents.
The Washington Post reported late Thursday that FBI agents were specifically searching for classified nuclear documents when they executed the warrant at Mar-a-Lago this week.
Asha Rangappa, a former FBI agent and an editor at Just Security, wrote on Twitter that given the highly sensitive nature of the documents, it was "no wonder" the Justice Department pursued a warrant against Trump.
"DOJ, for its part, has frankly shown a willingness to risk national security, at least temporarily, in order to show some deference and courtesy (and benefit if the doubt) to a former POTUS," Rangappa wrote. "I think it's fair to say that if you or I tried this, we'd be arrested on Day 1."
Shortly after Breitbart and other news outlets obtained the warrant Friday, the Justice Department informed a federal judge that Trump's team did not object to its request to unseal records related to the Mar-a-Lago raid.
In announcing the Justice Department's unsealing request Thursday, Attorney General Merrick Garland pointed to Trump's statements confirming the FBI raid and the intense public interest it generated in the Mar-a-Lago search. Garland acknowledged that the Justice Department generally conducts investigations "out of the public eye," but he said the circumstances of the Mar-a-Lago raid warranted an unusual break from protocol.
"The department did not make any public statements on the day of the search," Garland said. "The former president publicly confirmed the search that evening, as is his right."
Trump, for his part, has put out multiple statements excoriating the Justice Department and the FBI, saying "all" the documents he took were declassified, and falsely accusing former President Barack Obama of illegally transferring government records to Chicago when he left the White House.
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