According to a search warrant released a few days ago, the FBI is investigating Donald Trump for alleged violations of the Espionage Act and that agents took away classified documents from the Florida estate of the former president earlier this week.
According to the warrant, “all physical documents or records constituting evidence, contraband, fruits of crime, or other items illegally possessed in violation of” three criminal statutes: 18 U.S. Code § 793 – a subsection of the Espionage Act related to the “collection, transmission or loss of defense information”; 18 U.S. Code § 1519 which is related to the” destruction, alteration, or falsification of records in federal investigations and bankruptcy” and 18 U.S. Code § 2071 – related to “concealment, removal, or mutilation of government records.”
11 sets of classified documents were removed, including some marked secret or top secret, according to documents obtained by media outlets shortly before the judge unsealed the warrant. A handwritten memo, information about France’s president, clemency records for Trump ally Roger Stone, and photo binders were among the items taken away by the FBI. “SCI” documents which stand for highly classified “sensitive compartmented information” were also found and taken away from Trump’s residence.
Among the charges Trump was being investigated for are deleting or destroying records, obstruction of justice, and violating the Espionage Act – which may include offenses other than espionage, such as failing to turn over national security documents on request – the warrant shows. A conviction under the statutes can carry a prison sentence or fines, said Politico.
Days ago, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the Justice Department would take steps to authorize the release of the documents, citing a “substantial public interest,” which led to the search warrant being unsealed.
The documents were released four days after Trump publicly confirmed a court-ordered search of his Mar-a-Lago home by the FBI, leading his political allies to strongly condemn the federal investigation. Before the release, Trump issued a statement claiming that the material was “all declassified” and that federal agents “didn’t have to ‘seize’ anything” and that “they could have had it whenever they wanted without playing politics and breaking into Mar-a-Lago.”
According to a search warrant signed by federal Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart on Aug. 5, dozens of items were seized, including “boxes of leather-bound documents,” “binders of photos,” and “handwritten notes.” In addition, there are several items on the list that suggest the presence of classified documents described as “various top secret documents” and “various confidential documents.”
The Justice Department confirmed that Trump’s lawyers would not oppose the search warrant’s release and subsequent receipt of the documents. There are 39 items listed as being retrieved from the almost 58-room estate, including at least two photo binders, a presidential file, a handwritten note, and several items that are classified as confidential, top secret, or secret. An item titled “Executive clemency agreement regarding: Roger Jason Stone, Jr.” is also on the list. It refers to one of Trump’s closest confidantes who was pardoned in 2020.