The FBI search warrant against Donald Trump invoked the Espionage Act

On Friday, the court unsealed the search warrant served on Donald Trump’s Florida compound. The court also unsealed the receipt of what the FBI took from Mar-a-Lago. Note, again, that both a copy of the search warrant AND the receipt were given to Donald Trump’s lawyer. Trump could have released the warrant and the receipt early last week and he chose not to. Trump and his Republican allies chose to lie and attack the FBI and law enforcement and doxx the judge who signed the warrant. So what did the release of the warrant & receipt show? Well, Trump had hidden a huge cache of classified documents in a poorly secured Mar-a-Lago basement, basically. The FBI warrant invoked the Espionage Act.

The warrant that authorized the F.B.I. to search former President Donald J. Trump’s Florida residence on Monday listed three criminal laws as the basis of its investigation, offering a glimpse of an inquiry into his possession of government documents.

The first law, Section 793 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code, is better known as the Espionage Act. It criminalizes the unauthorized retention or disclosure of information related to national defense that could be used to harm the United States or aid a foreign adversary. Each offense can carry a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

Despite its name, the Espionage Act is not limited to instances of spying for a foreign power and is written in a way that broadly covers mishandling of security-related secrets. The government has frequently used it to prosecute officials who have leaked information to the news media for the purpose of whistle-blowing or otherwise informing the public, for example.

The government has not said what specific documents investigators thought Mr. Trump had kept at Mar-a-Lago, nor what they found there. The inventory of items was vague, including multiple mentions of “miscellaneous top-secret documents,” for example. But the invocation of “the retrieval, storage or transmission” of secret information in the warrant offered a potential clue to at least one category of the files the F.B.I. may have been looking for. One possible interpretation of that phrase is that it hinted at encrypted communications, hacking or surveillance abilities.

[From The New York Times]

We already know that Trump stole documents which are classified “above top secret,” meaning these documents are some of the highest classification and that’s usually the kind of stuff which is extremely close-hold. And he was just keeping it in his basement. They also found paperwork for Roger Stone’s pardon and some kind of “kompromat” file on French president Emmanuel Macron. Macron, the EU’s point person on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Macron, who just won re-election against a Putin-backed fascist, Marine le Pen. The FBI apparently removed twenty boxes of material and multiple binders as well.

One of Trump’s many excuses – he’s done a lot of bluffing in the past week – is that he can declassify any document at will, so anything in his possession was declassified. That is… not the way it works. Trump’s people have also been suggesting that the FBI planted those documents at Mar-a-Lago. Which means he declassified material which was then planted at MAL? On Saturday, he tried out another excuse: sometimes he had to bring his work home AND that he had a standing order to declassify material the moment it left the Oval Office.

Meanwhile, the Times has already caught Trump in a huge lie. You know how the FBI went to MAL in the spring to look at how Trump was storing documents and to see what he had? Apparently, Trump signed a written statement in June that he had already turned over all of the classified material in his possession at that point. That was part of the FBI’s visit to MAL. Meaning, he lied in writing and the FBI did not believe him anyway, and that’s why they got the search warrant.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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32 Responses to “The FBI search warrant against Donald Trump invoked the Espionage Act”

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  1. Smile says:

    This bloated monster needs to be in prison.

    • MY3CENTS says:

      Lock. Him. Up!

    • Betsy says:

      That’s weird. My closing thought on reading this was, “that bloated gasbag!” Six years on and his capacity for being a garbage human and American still surprises.

  2. Seraphina says:

    This is a nightmare, all of it. He keeps spinning lies about the papers being in his possession and it just gets crazier. Just when I think I have read it all, NOPE – more insanity is reported. And why, why did he need intel on Macron? That question is the tip of the iceberg. There can only be one reason when an ex President has papers like that ONLY ONE.

    • Miranda says:

      Yeah. While all countries probably use kompromat to some extent, there’s a reason it’s most commonly referred to by a Russian term. They didn’t invent the tactic, but since the Soviet era, it has been an integral and widely accepted part of their national politics.

      Now, kompromat most often tends to be sexual in nature, so MY question is, by whose standards would the info be considered “compromising”? Because what’s considered deviant in Russia would be seen as downright mundane in most Western countries, and in France in particular.

    • Giddy says:

      He also openly supported Marine Le Pen in her campaign against Macron, so he might have “shared” information with her. Of course the reason he supported her was that she was Putin’s candidate. I feel like all roads eventually lead to Putin.

      • Seraphina says:

        I hear many Republicans say that Ukraine would never have happened under Trumps watch – may we now know why – Putin was getting a great deal more from Trump than we ever thought and that’s what kept him “quiet”. All that stopped once Biden was in the WH.

  3. MaryContrary says:

    There are no words for how vile the Republicans who are defending him are-that they can continue to damage our country by sucking up to this POS. Of course he’s just as bad and stupid and treasonous as we all imagined he would be.

  4. SussexWatcher says:

    I saw someone on Twitter (so who knows if true) saying that if he’s convicted of espionage then all of his Supreme Court appointments would be nullified. Does anyone know if this is true? Please let it be true and please let him be convicted (whether or not it’s true).

    My concern is that he won’t be prosecuted out of some stupid ‘let the country move on’ bullcrap. They cannot let this pass. He and everyone involved with his criminal administration needs to go down. I want his entire family doing the perp walk!

    • Blithe says:

      As much as I would like this to be true, I doubt that it is — since the Senate has to approve the SC Justices.
      This is unprecedented. It’s even more troubling to know that there are still Trumpies scattered throughout the government, overseeing critical functions. I’m particularly concerned about DeJoy, as Postmaster General as we go through voting cycles with many people choosing to vote by mail.
      While none of Trump’s machinations surprise me , I am stunned and disheartened by just how much damage he was able to do so quickly. Clearly he had a lot of help.

    • Lizzie Bathory says:

      No. Unless a justice was implicated in Trump’s crimes, his conviction(s) would have no bearing on his appointees’ tenure on the court. If a Supreme Court justice had committed crimes or ethical violations, they still couldn’t be removed unless they were impeached by the House, then tried & convicted by a two-thirds majority the Senate.

      ETA: It’s incredibly rare for any federal judge to be impeached & removed from the bench, which is yet another reason elections are crucial. Federal judges have impacts that far outlast the folks who nominate & confirm them.

  5. LUCKSTER 🍀 says:

    He needed a file on Macron because Dump is a Russian asset. I really think it’s that simple.

  6. Miranda says:

    My favorite part of this so far has been his (very easily disprovable) “…but Obama took nuclear weapons documents, too!” non-denial. Though his belief that super-duper-top secret documents could be declassified by nothing more than his say-so, a la Michael Scott declaring bankruptcy on The Office, was pretty entertaining as well.

  7. Lolo86lf says:

    My head was spinning on Friday and Saturday from all the mental gymnastics Trump’s enablers were performing to justify and decriminalize his crimes. But it won’t work. He will be charged with violation of the Espionage Act, and later he will charged with other crimes as well.

    • Julia K says:

      A wife cannot testify against her husband but her parents can. They have travelled and lived in close proximity from the beginning. They should be questioned, unless they have already come forward.

      • Lolo86lf says:

        It would be sweet if her parents testified against Trump. But it seems not likely because in turning him in they would adversely affecting Melania and Barron as a result.

      • Boxy Lady says:

        Spousal privilege means they can’t be *forced* to testify against their spouse. If someone wants to, though, they can waive their spousal privilege and testify against their spouse. I don’t know if Melania would ever waive it though. I think she would want to appear to have nothing to do with any of this so having her parents testify against DJT would probably work out best for both Melania and her parents, especially since they’re newer US citizens.

      • pottymouthpup says:

        Melania is most likely complicit and neither she nor her parents are going to give up their gravy train

        My money is on a secret service agent who saw this as a red line crossed

  8. TwinFalls says:

    The FBI agents whose names are on the warrant and the judge who signed the warrant have been getting death threats of course. The FBI just killed a guy who shot into one of their buildings. He of course was there on Jan 6th.

    These people calling for civil war aren’t kidding. Trump is creating an alternate reality for them and I don’t know if he and this movement can be stopped.

    • Blue Nails Betty says:

      This is what I worry about, too. Even if trump did an hour long show in which he denounced the GOP and a new civil war and demanded the right wingers to quit make threats/attempting to kill people…the right wingers would say it was fake or someone is threatening him or blah blah blah and just continue on their quest to restart the civil war.

    • Truthiness says:

      This is so beyond the pale and it’s 100% Trump’s M.O. Make sure the magistrate/judge and the FBI agents’ names are public so that they are targets for the unhinged MAGA masses. Superlawyer Marc Elias, who won 61 election cases, is being name-checked nearly ever day by Steve Bannon. Bannon clearly wants someone to take him out.

  9. aquarius64 says:

    World leaders need to worry if Trump has files on them. I believe the goal is blackmail or information for sale for Trump. Side note: I think the BRF needs to worry too. Some information on them may be in those boxes the FBI U-Hauled out of Mar a Lago.

  10. Giddy says:

    I have a horrible vision of Trump sitting in the Oval Office with Putin’s shopping list of classified information in his greasy paws. He sold out his country, and he did it while President. He is even a greater nightmare than we thought.

  11. Duchess of Corolla says:

    He needs to be in prison now. Better still, maybe he could just drop dead and save the nation the cost of further investigations into this blob of orange slime. I despise every atom of his existence.

  12. tuille says:

    Neither Melania nor her parents would risk falling off the gravy train by testifying against the traitor. Jared’s dirty too but might spill tea to avoid prison if he gets indicted. Does dummy Jr get what’s happening? Will Guilfoyle stick with these traitors or cut & run?
    Personally, I want this piece of garbage tried for treason, convicted, & sent to Guantanamo for life, to be held incommunicado with zero perks or amenities. Make him do some labor – it might kill him off sooner. All his corporate & personal assets should be forfeited too. Let Mel find another sugar daddy to support her or she can head back to Slovenia with Ma & Pa.

    • Lucy says:

      Actually Guantanamo is perfect. I’ve been wondering where they can put him that isn’t a constant security/flash point risk. Guantanamo is about it. Anywhere else will be a rallying point for his lunatics.

  13. BeanieBean says:

    Wow, how the NYT has fallen: ‘The government has frequently used it to prosecute officials who have leaked information to the news media for the purpose of whistle-blowing ….’ No, whistleblowers report on illegal, unethical, & etc. activity and it is NOT legal to prosecute them for doing so & is why we have the Whistleblower Protection Act.

    • Call_Me_AL says:

      I know, right? What does Trump have on the NYT or are they just that dumb/crooked/careless? Whistle blowing is reporting illegal/unethical activities, not leaking info!!!?!

  14. Well Wisher says:

    I read somewhere that if tried and found guilty, depending on the charge, all supreme justices nominated and selected under Trump, will be voided. I am hoping for clarity.
    If this is true, and all variables being equal??