ESPIONAGE! Unsealed documents reveal what FBI agents were looking for in Trump search
FBI agents executing a search warrant on Monday at the Florida golf club of former president Donald Trump were investigating potential violations of the Espionage Act, which outlaws the unauthorized retention of national security information that could harm the United States or aid a strategic adversary.
That we now know from the release of the search warrant and the inventory list from what was seized in the search to multiple news organizations on Friday.
To borrow from Ron Burgundy, that sure escalated quickly.
From days of Republicans harping on about the “unprecedented” search and “weaponization” of the Justice Department to investigate a former president, we now have a former president potentially facing multiple years in prison for espionage, which itself would be unprecedented.
First, to the details. According to the inventory list, the search led to the seizure of 11 sets of documents in all, including some marked as “classified/TS/SCI” – shorthand for “top secret/sensitive compartmented information.”
The Washington Post had reported on Thursday that the agents were searching specifically for classified documents about nuclear weapons. Trump, predictably, called the link to nuclear weapons information a “hoax” in a statement issued early Friday, before another statement in which he tried to claim that his predecessor, whom he identified as “Barack Hussein Obama,” because of course he did, had also kept classified documents after his presidency, and that “lots” of them pertained to nuclear weapons.
That second statement might make you think that Trump was offering an admission, and trying to suggest, as key to his defense, that every ex-president keeps top secret nuclear weapons information around the house.
That may work in the MAGA-verse; it’s not likely to work in a federal court.
The details got out after Attorney General Merrick Garland signaled on Thursday that the Department of Justice would support the public release of the search warrant and inventory list.
Garland, in so doing, was calling the bluff of Trump and his supporters among Republican lawmakers in Congress who had astroturfed the interwebs with outrage in the days following the Monday search over what they claimed was a lack of transparency.
You’d have to think that those outside Trump’s inner circle weren’t aware that the warrant was part of an espionage investigation, but that, we don’t know, because the supporters from the GOP lawmaker set have gone from steaming mad to radio silent in the past 24 hours.
Trump had said last night that he would agree to the public release of the warrant documents, and his lawyers did file a motion agreeing to the release, but apparently only after leaking the warrant and inventory list to right-friendly news organizations the Wall Street Journal, Fox News and Breitbart.
Of the three, Breitbart, not surprisingly, was the one to weaponize its contents by publishing the names of the FBI agents who took part in the search.
It’s obvious what publishing the names of the agents is meant to do, a day after a Trump supporter who had posted on social media about starting a “civil war” by shooting FBI agents had attempted to shoot up an FBI field office in Cincinnati, and reports this week indicating that the judge who signed the search warrant, Bruce Reinhart, has received numerous online death threats.
This, yet again, from the “back the blue” crowd, which now wants to kill cops, in the name of a guy being investigated for espionage, who claims he didn’t have the documents, and anyway, he’d already declassified them, and Obama did the same thing, only worse.
This isn’t “Veep”; it’s “Beavis and Butthead.”