Shocking affidavit reveals Trump compromised the identities of US spies
A 38-page affidavit released on August 26 presented evidence from the FBI’s search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence.
Crucially, the affidavit states that within the 15 boxes of documents returned to the National Archives, there were 300 classified documents.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 also alleged, falsely, that Barack Obama improperly took millions of White House documents to Chicago after his presidency ended.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Fox News host, Mark Levin, said: “This is the worst attack on this Republic in modern history.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Constitution allows Congress to disqualify people from holding office in impeachment proceedings, but grants no such power to ordinary criminal law.
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.
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.
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”.
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”.
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”.