A federal judge on Friday opened a warrant authorizing the search from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate when the Justice Department, after consulting with Trump’s attorneys, formally affirmed that the former president did not object to making the search warrant public.
The order showed that the former president is under investigation for possibly breaking three federal laws: removal or destruction of records, obstruction of an investigation, and violation of the Espionage Act.
Federal agents recovered boxes that included 11 sets of classified documents from Trump’s Florida home, according to a property receipt posted with the court order. Some of the items had vague descriptions such as photo folders, a handwritten note, information about the “president of France” and the executive grant of clemency for Trump ally Roger Stone, while about half of the documents were classified.
►the order: The order signed by a federal magistrate authorizing FBI agents to search Mar-a-Lago for documents, records, contraband, proceeds of crime or other items unlawfully possessed in violation of the collection, transmission or loss of national defense information .
►The investigation: Investigators don’t necessarily believe Trump is a spy. The investigation is more likely to focus on the careless handling of classified information, which makes it easier for spies to gain access, the lawyers said.
►The inventory: Approximately half of the documents seized from Mar-a-Lago were classified as confidential, secret or top secret.
The content of the top-secret documents seized at Mar-a-Lago is still unknown
The government says former President Donald Trump stored caches of “top secret” and “top secret” documents at his Florida resort, but provided no clear indication of what they might contain.
Instead of details or examples, the search warrant released Friday contained elements referring to the seizure of “miscellaneous secret documents,” “miscellaneous top secret documents” and “miscellaneous confidential documents.”
“The Justice Department appears to be investigating a former president for willfully endangering the security of the nation by refusing to return documents that could cause real harm to national security, even after being ordered to do so,” said Patrick Cotter, former federal prosecutor. .
“It’s the stuff of cheap political thrillers of the most fantastical variety, to this day,” said Cotter.
— David Jackson Kevin Johnson
What is the Espionage Law?
A old piece of anti-espionage legislation is back in the headlines after the FBI searched former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence for classified materials they believe he took from the White House.
The Espionage Act of 1917, enacted just after the start of World War I, makes it unlawful to obtain information, capture photographs, or copy descriptions of any information related to national defense, with the intent that information be used against terrorists. United States or for the benefit of any foreign nation.
It was passed to bolster the war effort and protect against espionage. Enforced by President’s Attorney General Woodrow Wilson, the law made it illegal to share any information that could interfere with the war or benefit foreign adversaries. In its modern version, the law has been used to prosecute spies and leakers of classified information.
What is the Espionage Law?: What to know, from the modification of the Sedition Law to declassified documents.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: FBI Search for Trump: Top-Secret Documents Seized, But Contents Unknown