Shocking affidavit reveals Trump compromised the identities of US spies

38-page affidavit
300 classified documents
Risking the identities of US spies
Russian and Chinese spies may have tried to enter MAL
Unsealed warrant
Violations of the Espionage Act
Trump encouraged the release
A politically-motivated attack?
Declassification claims
Declassifying documents doesn’t allow you to take them home
Trump accused Obama of taking documents
The NARA dismissed Trump’s claims
Trump has insinuated that the FBI is corrupt
Threats against the FBI have increased since the raid
Attempted attack on an FBI office
'Regime' plot
'The worst attack on this Republic'
Republicans who didn’t support him anymore, now do
Mar-a-Lago raid motivated Republicans to vote
Most Republicans believe it’s a political attack
The removal of classified documents is a federal crime
The law in question
The law received a close look in 2015
Congress cannot alter the criteria for who can become president
Congress has no power in criminal law
Clinton was never charged
The law might not be enough to bar Trump from presidency
But what if the legal system decided to bar Trump from presidency?
General distrust of established power
Trump’s reelection chances have improved
38-page affidavit

A 38-page affidavit released on August 26 presented evidence from the FBI’s search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence.

300 classified documents

Crucially, the affidavit states that within the 15 boxes of documents returned to the National Archives, there were 300 classified documents.

Risking the identities of US spies

Some of those documents, the affidavit indicates, could contain extremely sensitive information about intelligence gathering activities, potentially compromising the identities of foreign nationals who spy for the US.

Russian and Chinese spies may have tried to enter MAL

Additionally, a former FBI agent said it is likely that foreign agents from Russia and China tried to infiltrate Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence, considering the top-secret documents that were being kept there.

Unsealed warrant

The warrant used for the search was unsealed on August 12, after Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the Justice Department had filed a motion in court to do so. 

Violations of the Espionage Act

The document indicated that federal agents were investigating potential violations of the Espionage Act as well as two other federal statutes: obstruction of justice and destroying or concealing federal records.

Trump encouraged the release

Surprisingly, Trump not only did not object to the disclosure of the FBI warrant but encouraged it. “Release the documents now!”, he wrote on Truth Social, his social media platform.

A politically-motivated attack?

In fact, Trump was the first to break the news of the raid, releasing a written statement in which he attempted to frame the search as an unjustified, politically-motivated attack on him by the Biden administration and Democrats.

Declassification claims

Trump and his allies have  maintained that none of the documents taken to Mar-a-Lago were classified, because Trump, as president, had orally bulk-declassified everything he wanted to take home shortly before leaving office. 

Declassifying documents doesn’t allow you to take them home

However, even if Trump declassified the documents as he claims, it wouldn’t mean it was legal for him to take them home and keep them, according to Charlie Savage, lawyer and New York Times reporter.

Trump accused Obama of taking documents

Trump also alleged, falsely, that Barack Obama improperly took millions of White House documents to Chicago after his presidency ended.

The NARA dismissed Trump’s claims

However, the National Archives and Records Administration responded that Obama and his staff followed the rules and that the agency has maintained full control of the records.

Trump has insinuated that the FBI is corrupt

The former president has repeatedly attacked the FBI and Justice Department, alleging that the search was improperly conducted and insinuating that the FBI agents planted evidence.

Threats against the FBI have increased since the raid

Trump's claims have had an impact. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued a joint bulletin warning that they have observed an increase in threats to federal law enforcement since the raid.

Attempted attack on an FBI office

The judge who signed the search warrant for Mar-a-Lago has also been subject to threats. And a gunman who had been a January 6 rioter at the U.S. Capitol in 2021 tried to attack the FBI’s office in Cincinnati before being subsequently killed by police.

'Regime' plot

Trump’s narrative was adopted by most Republicans who see the investigation as a heinous Regime plot by Democrats. Ron DeSantis tweeted, “The raid of MAL is another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the Regime’s political opponents.”

'The worst attack on this Republic'

Fox News host, Mark Levin, said: “This is the worst attack on this Republic in modern history.

Republicans who didn’t support him anymore, now do

Several weeks ago, about half of Republican voters were ready to move on from Trump, according to a New York Times poll. Since the Mar-a-Lago raid, the entire party seems to rally behind him. 

Mar-a-Lago raid motivated Republicans to vote

According to a Trafalgar Group/Convention of States Action survey, 83% of likely Republican voters said the FBI search made them more motivated to vote in the 2022 elections.

Most Republicans believe it’s a political attack

Furthermore, the survey shows that over 75% of likely Republican voters believe Trump’s political enemies were behind the search rather than the impartial justice system, as did 48% of likely general election voters overall.

The removal of classified documents is a federal crime

No matter the public opinion, the fact is that if a prosecutor charges Trump, he could be barred from running for presidency, fined or convicted to prison for up to three years, as the removal of classified documents constitutes a federal crime.

The law in question

Specifically, the law in question, Section 2071 of Title 18 of the United States Code, makes it a crime if someone who has custody of government documents or records “willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies or destroys” these files.

The law received a close look in 2015

However, the law received a close look in 2015, after it came to light that Hillary Clinton, then widely anticipated to be the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, had used a private email server to conduct government business while secretary of state.

Congress cannot alter the criteria for who can become president

Some Republicans argued that the law should keep Clinton out of the White House, but several legal scholars noted that the Constitution sets eligibility criteria for who can be president, and argued that Supreme Court rulings suggest Congress cannot alter them.

Congress has no power in criminal law

The Constitution allows Congress to disqualify people from holding office in impeachment proceedings, but grants no such power to ordinary criminal law.

Clinton was never charged

A former federal judge then decided that the expert analysis was “spot on” and Clinton was never charged with any crime related to the use of the server.

The law might not be enough to bar Trump from presidency

Marc Elias, a Democratic lawyer who served as general counsel for Clinton’s campaign, tweeted that while any conviction under Section 2071 might not ultimately bar Trump from seeking the presidency again, a legal fight over it would still be important.

But what if the legal system decided to bar Trump from presidency?

Columnist David Brooks writes that if that were to happen, we would likely see widespread political violence from incensed Trump voters who would conclude that the Regime has stolen the country”. Brooks adds that it would be “the path to a complete democratic breakdown.

General distrust of established power

Brooks writes in the New York Times that we’re living in a crisis of legitimacy, during which distrust of established power is so virulent that actions by elite actors tend to backfire, no matter how well-founded they are.

Trump’s reelection chances have improved

Then again, the columnist’s ultimate guess is that the FBI will find some “damming documents that will do nothing to weaken Trump’s support.” In fact, he says, at least for now, “it has unintentionally improved Trump’s re-election chances.

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