FBI’s Trump Mar-a-Lago search linked to Espionage Act

Politics

(NewsNation) — Federal agents believed former President Donald Trump violated the Espionage Act when they obtained and executed a search warrant on his Mar-a-Lago estate and found nearly a dozen top secret and classified documents, according to the newly unsealed search warrant and property receipt.

The warrant was signed by a federal judge on Aug. 5 with a mandate that the search must be executed at the 58-bedroom, 33-bathroom Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida no later than Aug. 19.

Agents were given authority to seize any documents “with classification markings,” along with information “regarding the retrieval, storage, or transmission of national defense information or classified material,” and “any evidence of the knowing alteration, destruction, or concealment of any government and/or Presidential Records, or of any documents with classification markings.”

The order allowed FBI agents to search the “’45 Office’, all storage rooms and all other rooms or areas within the premises used or available to be used by” Trump and his staff members on the 17-acre estate, per the warrant.

Among the 33 documents the FBI took from Trump’s estate were:

  • Four sets of “Top Secret Documents”
  • Three sets of “Secret Documents”
  • Three sets of “Confidential Documents”

Trump reacted to the document release on his Truth Social site, accusing former President Barack Obama of keeping “many” classified documents after he left the White House in 2017.

“What are they going to do with the 33 million pages of documents, many of which are classified, that President Obama took to Chicago,” Trump posted.

The National Archives and Records Administration countered Trump’s claim, issuing a statement Friday saying it obtained “exclusive legal and physical custody” of Obama’s records.

“NARA moved approximately 30 million pages of unclassified records to a NARA facility in the Chicago area, where they are maintained exclusively by NARA,” it said in its statement.

“NARA maintains the classified Obama Presidential records in a NARA facility in the Washington, DC, area,” the NARA statement continued. “Former President Obama has no control over where and how NARA stores the Presidential records of his Administration.”

Analysis from lawyers NewsNation spoke with was mixed. Some believed the Espionage Act means Trump can’t use the president’s declassification powers as a defense.

“This is very real and I think should be very concerning for [Trump] and his team given that there’s very little reason for him to have those documents,” former prosecutor Renato Mariotti said on “NewsNation Prime.”

See the full unsealed warrant and property receipt below. App users click here:

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