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Trump May Have Violated the Espionage Act

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | August 12, 2022 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | August 12, 2022 |


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Update: The New York Times has seen the warrant, which should be released soon. Basically, it says that the list of documents removed from Mar-a-Lago includes top-secret documents that were only meant to be viewed in secure government facilities. It’s like, really, really top secret.

Also, the FBI conducted the search to investigate potential crimes associated with the Espionage Act. I don’t know how the Republicans are going to normalize Espionage Act violations, but I’m sure they will figure it out. Politically, the Republicans might be able to rouse their base, but it may not matter, because legally, Trump seems f**ked.

And arguing that he declassified the documents ain’t gonna work, either.

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You all read the news. I’m under no illusion that you don’t already know what’s going on. But here’s a quick catch-up: Yesterday, after the Times reported that folks in Trump’s inner circle were warning senior Republicans to lay off the FBI because something big might be coming. Merrick Garland gave a short statement. He basically said, “I signed off on the search. We didn’t do so lightly. If TFG wants us to release the search warrant, we’ll do so!”

Garland called TFG’s bluff. TFG basically was left with two choices: Allow the release of the same search warrant he had refused to release all week, or object, which would show that he’s hiding something. Trump basically had no choice, and as of last night, he’s decided to allow the release of the search warrant. This is probably the smarter move. He can try and handwave away the details in the redacted search warrant more easily than he can come up with an excuse not to release the search warrant at all. He’s already going with the “they planted evidence” defense. Good luck with that one, buddy. His supporters will buy it, but no one else will. At least this answers the question: They weren’t just searching for documents related to nuclear weapons. They found those documents.

Don’t expect a lot of details if TFG doesn’t change his mind. There will be no smoking guns. That’s fine, really, because The Washington Post has revealed that Trump was hanging on to documents related to “nuclear weapons,” while the Times refers to the documents as material “related to some of the most highly classified programs run by the United States,” or “‘special access programs,’ a designation that is typically reserved for extremely sensitive operations carried out by the United States abroad or for closely held technologies and capabilities.”

The fact that Trump had returned a lot of documents to the National Archives already actually works against him here. He returned boxes of requested documents, but he specifically held on to the documents pertaining to “nuclear weapons” and/or “special access programs.” You don’t do that without a reason. The best-case scenario is that TFG wanted to show off the docs to his friends and others who visited Mar-a-Lago, where the security is lax. Worst case scenario: He was going to sell them to foreign agents.

The latest speculation is that the “source” for the whereabouts of these documents was a Secret Service Agent, who may have been a little freaked out that a guy with a history of revealing state secrets had in his possession highly classified documents pertaining to national security.

I guess the question I have is this: Why isn’t he in handcuffs already? If those documents were in his possession — whether or not he had granted someone else access to them — he’s already broken the law. Are they waiting to get more dirt on him, or is this a case where they’re just like, “We just wanted the documents back before he shared them with someone else, and now that we have them, we’re all good!?”