Investigation against Trump, for violation of the Espionage Law

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David Brooks


Newspaper La Jornada
Saturday, August 13, 2022, p. 17

New York. Former President Donald Trump is under criminal investigation for alleged violations of the Espionage Act and obstruction of justice, revealed the court order that authorized the search of his Florida residence on Monday.

According to the official receipt of materials seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the search of the Trump mansion, which, along with the search warrant, were first made public in leaks to the media and later by a federal judge, documents marked top secret, secret Y confidential.

The agents took possession of a total of 11 series of documents, where, in addition to highly classified materials, there were also files related to the presidential pardon of Roger Stone, an associate of Trump, material related to French President Emmanuel Macron, and photographs. No further details were offered.

The order to inspect the private environment of the former Republican president and its annexes made public yesterday revealed that the FBI operation was carried out because the Department of Justice has evidence of what is called probable cause against Trump for alleged crimes related to the Espionage Act of 1917, which prohibits the unauthorized possession of official information that could to damage to the United States or be useful to its adversaries. It also revolves around potential violations of two other federal laws that make it a crime to hide or destroy documents to hinder a legal investigation and to improperly withdraw official documents.

On Thursday night, the former president declared that he would not oppose the public disclosure of the search warrant or the list of confiscated materials, pretending to be a champion of transparency, and reiterated this Friday that he was more than willing to comply with any request to hand over the files to the authorities, and that the FBI operation was unnecessary. He did not mention that he had the ability to release the order and the list as of Monday.

In a statement yesterday, Trump not only stressed that the search was not warranted, but that all the documents had already been declassified. This is already the subject of another debate, since presidents have the authority to declassify documents. However, some point out that he can’t do it with everyone, especially those with the highest ranking, while others ask when and how he declassified, if true, the ones that were confiscated in the break-in at his residence. Furthermore, under the Espionage Law it could be irrelevant, since it does not define whether or not the documents it protects are classified.

And as is his custom, in the same newsletter he attacked others, in this case his predecessor, declaring that the bigger problem is, what will they do with the 33 million pages of documents, many of which are classified, that President (Barack) Obama took to Chicago?

Also, as is often the case with his statements, this accusation is false: the administration of the National Archives, repository of official presidential documents, confirmed to New York Times that Obama did not keep any of his documents, as established by law.

Trump went on to use all of this to raise funds, with one of his political organizations, Save America, sending an email that said, “we warned you this would happen…When you go against him, you really come after you…President Trump will never stop work to save America, but he needs to know if he has your support.”

However, since the possibility began to be revealed that the billionaire was in possession of secret documents that could have serious national security implications, the initial protests and furious denunciations of lawmakers and other Republican politicians.

For his part, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Democrat Adam Schiff, issued a statement stating that “if the reports are accurate and the content among these documents includes some of the most highly classified information in our government… that would explain a lot about why the Department (of Justice) and the FBI took the step of obtaining a search warrant to recover the documentary material.”

The Espionage Act of 1917 that is at the center of this investigation against the former president in this case is the same one that the Trump administration used to accuse and persecute the founder of WikiLeaksJulian Assange, in 2019. The Obama administration used it in an unprecedented crackdown on intelligence officials and public servants who leaked classified information to journalists, including Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden.

And to add more irony, it was Roy Cohn, Trump’s great mentor and the right-hand man of anti-communist Senator Joe McCarthy (he of “McCarthyism”), who participated as a prosecutor in the process of prosecuting and executing Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in the 50s accused of violating that same Espionage Law.

Meanwhile, there are reports that the far-right digital site Breit-bart published the names of the FBI agents who searched Trump’s residence in Palm Beach, Florida, and that it was Trump himself or his accomplices who leaked the warrant. search without crossing out the names of the agents to that site. This, after this week an armed man linked to far-right forces tried to enter the FBI offices in Cincinnati, Ohio, and where the office has issued alerts about an increase in threats of violence against its agents this week.

On another front, Trump suffered yet another legal blow this week when a New York state judge refused to dismiss the criminal case against the Trump family business, the Trump Organization, and its former chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, thus A trial will proceed for now in the fall. The companies and the finance chief were formally accused last year of having maneuvered to obtain greater compensation and evade taxes. The defendants requested that the matter be dismissed, arguing that it was a politically motivated matter. The judge yesterday rejected that argument.