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.

21 thoughts on “Trump at Odds With the Espionage Act?

  1. Interesting. There's more detail in the number of Top Secret documents discovered than I expected. Nobody is saying this is "open and shut" but the trouble is serious. 

    I'm surprised at how arrogant Trump is/was. Trump gave up 15 boxes in January this year. Trump had been blowing off the National Archives until they threatened to get DoJ involved. It looks like Trump only gave up part of what he had. In June, investigators were back and it looks like Trump played cute – not turning anything over but putting a lock on the basement door. 

    Trump has a LOT of experience playing cat-and-mouse in civil court – Trump is one of the most sued personas in the US. He loves it – he knows how to string things out, make them costly, and force a settlement on his terms. This is criminal – different rules. 

    When the FBI made their sweep (based on my experience) they grabbed everything that MIGHT be National Archives' property. So they have notes and papers that the National Archives would not have pursued.  What do they have in writing pertaining to January 6? oooops!

  2. 0Whoever had the Espionage Act on their tRUMP Crime Bingo Card wins!

    The chickens are finally all coming home to roast the the fat, old orange buzzard!  Or, whatever…

    I'm giddy at this news today!

    tRUMP's probably sh*tting cheeseburger and KFC bricks right now.

    But tRUMP isn't the only one sweating tonight.

    Because next, the DOJ will be looking to figure out who the person was who got these materials for tRUMP – because we all know Schmuck a l'Orange barely knows the alphabet, has even less of a clue about the Dewey decimal system, and so, could not possibly have gotten his tiny mittens on these government documents without massive assistance.

    And the person who helped him has to know that tRUMP will give him/her up in a nanosecond if given even half a chance.

    And who helped tRUMP hide, pack, and abscond with these top secret documents?  The same person?  If not, then there's another person who's got to know tRUMP will give him/her up.  

    To quote George Dumbaya "Little Boots" Bush:"  Heh-heh-heh.

  3. I just had a humorous thought.  Or, at least I think it's humorous.

    They're saying tRUMP violated the Espionage Act.

    That got my ol' brain to imagining tRUMP as a spy.

    tRUMP as a spy would make Inspector Clouseau look like a mix of Sherlock Holmes and Phillip Marlow.

    His spy name would be Fatty Hairy.

    Btw:  The latest excuse for this inexcusable orange turd is a real doozy!

    They say that the hard-working presiDUNCE tRUMP would take some documents back to the bedroom for further study.  And he said once he took them, any documents were now declassified!

    See, I told you it was a real doozy!!!

    "Took documents…"


    First:  Can you imagine tRUMP taking work with him?!?

    Second:  And why would he?  THE MFer CAN'T READ!!!!!





    • Trump is kind of pink, I suppose, when he's not glopping on the makeup. But not much of a panther. More of a big cheese curd.

      • When you see photographs of Trump without his makeup and in the proper light you get to see how mother nature is actively chipping away on his mortal coil. If he is still around for a 2024 contest it's going to take a skilled mortician to apply his makeup. to make him camera ready.

  4. Along that line, if tRUMP's taking secret documents back with with him, I wouldn't think he was being a responsible leader.

    I'd think his bathroom's out of both toilet paper AND copies of our Constitution!

  5. Garland needs to indict Trump on just this issue alone rather than wait to gather up enough evidence to indict him on all of his crimes. Let's get the ball rollling and break the logjam of indictments flowing Trump's way. Nobody wants to be the first one out there to tackle that big bag of shit. The reality is that Trump is just a man (in the generic sense) who has no exceptional power other than which has been created through an illusion of invincibility. He's just a puffy bag of shit protected by a fear to take him on.

    When is America going to wake up and realize that Trump is a danger to everything we hold dear, and he only represents an embodiment the the sickness and insecurities that is eating away at the heart of America.

    Indict that bag of shit NOW!

  6. Tuesday will be quite the referendum on the republican party.  We will get to see how many honest republicans there are in Wyoming.  What percentage will vote for Liz Cheney in the republican primary?

    They all know by now of Trump's illegal activity.  A vote for Liz is a vote to rid the party of its criminal wing.  Just how base are they?  We will have the numbers by next Wednesday. 

    Salmon Rushie is alive and on a respirator I read.  What a brave and heroic talented writer he is.  May he heal on waves of good will.  

    •    You're right, Bernie. It is sad to watch and see how much the scourge of Trump's corruption has permeated the Republican party. It's really a mind blower to think that after all that has been shown of how corrupt and sick that Trump is that anybody would stand behind him. I'm still holding out hope that the voters in Wyoming can understand how important Liz Cheney's defense of the Constitution and the rule of law is to the presevation of our democracy.

       Evidently there must be something I missed in my understanding of what America is all about. How can there even be a question that any candidate endorsed by Trump is just bad news.

  7. Nate Silver titled his book, 'The Signal And The Noise." I haven't read it but he's talking about polling and why it works sometimes and fails sometimes. Using the same words, you can sort what's happening, and what will happen, into two categories.

    "Signal" is stuff with legal significance. I'd include everything from Garland and DoJ  and a very small (but potentially important) selection of statements from the Trump team.

    "The Noise" is what Trump, Bannon, and the right-wing are good at. This is everything designed to advance Trump's candidacy. and distract from the facts. In the last few days, the media has done a better job of calling out the BS. (Obama took 30 million pages of secret materials home when he  left the WH.) Although the claim that "Everybody does it." is bogus, it's a tell. Trump knows he's busted for having done it. 

    I'd predict that Garland will charge Trump. What defense is there? Trump was granted custody of the documents and they were found in Trump's Florida residence. Can you prove intent? Can you PROVE Trump knew? I bet there's not a single picture of Trump carrying a box into the basement at MAL. 

    Garland needs someone from the inside who KNEW what Trump intended. There's a bunch of lawyers who tried to help Trump before J6 who have their personal parts in a vise. And the DoJ is tightening that vise. Somebody was told by Trump to pack that stuff. Somebody else was told to talk to Trump about the potential legal liability. (Guesswork, but CYA after J6 was SOP. Nobody wanted to do anything solo that they alone might be charged with.)  If Garland gets to those witnesses, The only two options for Trump (outside of jail) are to flee the country or win a revolution.

    • I saw it reported that Kash Patel and John Solomon (of right-wing media fame) have been appointed by Trump as (among) his NARA representatives who have been interacting with NARA and DOJ recently

      Impressive way for Solomon to obtain his news tips…

  8. One of the things that stands out to me in the items that were retrieved from Mar a Lago is the pardon decree for Roger Stone. To a criminal like Trump that item is more coveted and cherished than a Magna cum Laude degree from Harvard University. It is essentially a testament to Trump's conquest to prove he is above the law. I'm sure that document was destined for a gilded frame and a place of prominence  in one of Trump's properties. I guess that Roger Stone was the biggest living criminal that Trump could think to name. He could have always pardoned John Wilks Booth, John Wayne Gacy,or even Jeffery Dahmer, but they wouldn't have provided the personal touch of proving to Trump's own ego that he had defeated the law.

  9. All good in the comments here… But I'm wary about thinking that DT is a stupid buffoon.  I'll illustrate my point of view with a story that I read (true or not) about a mafia boss in NYC who used to dress up like a low income lunatic street crazy whenever he went out of his apartment.  Everyone thought he was the local crazy.  Terrific cover for a crime boss: nobody thinking to pay attention to what he might be doing.

    Don't know if that makes any sense, but I think there's some possibility that the clown car of 2016-2021 was a smoke screen , much of which was seen through, but there may have been a lot of worse and deeper stuff going on that wasn't noticed due to the distraction with the clown car.


    • My thoughts? DT IS a stupid bufoon. Anybody who thinks Trump is playing three-dimensional chess here, needs his head examined.

      It's like saying Jeffrey Dahlmer wasn't a twisted cannibal – because the body parts were in the freezer proves he was a gourmet. 

      Yes, give Trump credit where due – he's a gifted grifter, a con man with a superb ability to motivate other bigoted, hateful people to support (if not act on) their worst instincts. 

      He did attract other sick people with the cunning to turn Trump's act into a vehicle of destruction. (Steve Bannon and Roger Stone) But don't credit Trump for their ability.

    • WaryTale ,  That mobster you are describing was Vincent Gigante. Better known as Vinny the Chin. The feds saw through his act and he was ultimately busted. Good try Vinny! The same fate is going to befall Trump because he is a buffoon. Trump is just a street smart criminal who has managed success beyond his intellectual capacities, but due to his arrogance and narcissism he's pushed his criminal success beyond the limit to maintain it. He'll eventually get busted. I think he's met his match.

    • Trump is genuinely stupid. Rex Tillerson summed it up by calling Trump an effing moron. My impression of Trump is that he has a narrow area of shrewdness in which he can operate and get away with things. He’s brilliant at manipulating people to get what he wants — most psychopaths are — and he has a well-honed instrinct for understanding what people want to hear, and telling them that. But outside of that area he’s out to lunch. All the time he was in the White House he demonstrated, over and over, that he had not even a rudimentary grasp of what he was supposed to be doing, and of the issues he was supposed to be dealing with. He’s not even especially good at making money, as most of the businesses he initiated himself went belly up quickly.

  10. I’m reading that SCI stuff must absolutely never be removed from a “sensitive compartmented information facility.”

    If Democrats had sense to create facts on the ground, they would be using this to administratively annihilate the career of any lawyer who was within screaming distance of those TS/SCI boxes who did not immediately start screaming themselves. 


  11. I've been wondering why Trump didn't copy the valuable stuff and return the originals.

    Perhaps somebody else has some insight but did Trump think the documents were "hostages" that the administration had to negotiate for?  If that was true, Trump thought he'd lose his leverage by turning in the papers (even if he had copies to sell or trade.) 

    • I can't imagine what Trump would even do with nuclear secrets. But I have a gut feeling that a desire to strenghten a personal connection to Saudi Arabia's crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has something to do with it. Gobs of money can be extracted from bin Salman just on the knowledge that Trump has got the goods. There's no telling what extent of generocity bin Salman will shower on Trump in hopes of a payday down the road. Look at the generocity that's been showered on Jared already. That might be the opening acknowledgment that he's ready to do business.

  12. Its early yet, but the one thing we haven't heard much discussion of is motive.  Why would Trump want to take classified documentation with him?  Why risk the additional criminal liability, what with everything else, from J6 to the GA 2020 election investigation proceeding apace?  Why hold on to it even after NARA repeatedly asked for the documents and risk even more legal exposure?  It would have been easier to just wash his hands of it all and let NARA manage their accounting and return, rather than appointing another in a long line of Trump's "best people" like Kash Patel, to mess it all up and put him unnecessarily in the crosshairs of justice. Trump had no plans for a presidential library, showed no academic or historical interest in the substance of policies or any real aspects of presidenting, and even if he had there are ways to at least have access to the documents to serve those post presidency interests, if that was the motivation. But Trump doesn't have the intellectual capacity, let alone any real interest, in any of that stuff. There is no Trump Presidential Library in the works, no historical or intellectual book examining the Trump years (just writing that made me laugh!)  

    Trump being the feral, cunning creature he is, the only reason must have been self-preservation, e.g. in these documents were information and evidence of even more serious crimes that, if left secure in the hands of others, would eventually expose him as the anti-American threat he really is.  Or, in a more conspiratorial bent, this information was of value, either for sale to the highest foreign bidders, or as blackmail material.  

    Just like with J6, as the process moves forward and facts come out to undercut initial absurd republican talking points defending Trump, the public will get to see, once again, just why Trump, unwittingly, actually is the crook he’s making himself out to be.


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