Trump at Odds With the Espionage Act?

[Update: the House just passed the Inflation Reduction Act. Now it just needs President Biden’s signature.]

I take it the warrant and receipt are out, and — whoa — the warrant mentions the espionage act.

A document attached to the search warrant said the agents were searching for “All physical documents and records constituting evidence, contraband, fruits of crime and other items illegally possessed in violation of” three laws, including a part of the Espionage Act that the Justice Department describes on its website as a “key national defense and national security” provision. The section cited in the search warrant “applies to activities such as gathering, transmitting to an unauthorized person, or losing, information pertaining to the national defense, and to conspiracies to commit such offenses.”

That sounds pretty serious. You can find the actual search warrant here.

I’m hearing on MSNBC there were four boxes of materials that had been given the highest top secret designation, “TS/SCI.” (Top Secret / Sensitive Compartmented Information) I’m reading that SCI stuff must absolutely never be removed from a “sensitive compartmented information facility.”

Whether any of this touches on nuclear weapons information, we do not yet know.

So Trump had boxes of this stuff in the basement. For a time the basement wasn’t even locked. Then he put a padlock on the door and figured that was fine.

It appears that someone alerted the Department of Justice that Trump had TS/SCI documents that he was still hanging on to, even after being served with a subpoena to turn over documents in June. It appears that the search warrant was more than justified.

Trump issued this statement today:

“Number one, it was all declassified,” Trump said. “Number two, they didn’t need to ‘seize’ anything. They could have had it anytime they wanted without playing politics and breaking into Mar-a-Lago. It was in secured storage, with an additional lock put on as per their request.”

So, one, none of this had been declassified per normal protocols. His waving his tiny hands over the boxes and chanting “be thou declassified” doesn’t cut it. He can order that documents be declassified, but then the original classifying agency has to complete the process, it says here.

Two, obviously, the government HAD been asking for all documents he shouldn’t have kept, for some time, and obviously Trump was still sitting on them.

Trump has also been claiming that President Obama removed “33 million pages of documents, much of them classified,” and took them to Chicago. But the National Archives (NARA) shot that down. All of the documents of the Obama Administration are properly stored in NARA facilities, they said. Some of those facilities are in Chicago, but a NARA facility is not the Obamas’s basement. “As required by the [Presidential Records Act], former President Obama has no control over where and how NARA stores the Presidential records of his Administration,” NARA said.

This is an interesting bit, reported by Josh Marshall today:

This morning the House Freedom Caucus, ground zero of Trumpism and coup plotting, canceled the press conference they had planned to bewail the FBI search of the ex-President’s home.

Somebody must have tipped them off what was coming.

I’m not hearing from any big-name Republicans yet. Even Josh Hawley, who has been tweeting that Merrick Garland must be impeached, has gone silent today.

More to come, I’m sure.