According to a list of documents seized by the FBI, a dozen boxes of documents classified as “top secret,” “confidential” and “confidential” were found at Donald Trump’s Florida home. The former president is suspected of violating three national security laws and theoretically faces decades in prison.
Espionage, destruction, prohibition: here is what American justice can be accused of in three words Donald Trump. By taking classified documents to his home in Florida, the former President of the United States may have demonstrated innocent indecency by violating three of the strictest US laws. Keeping confidential documents Relating to national security.
According to a list of documents seized by the FBI released Friday by a US judge, investigators would have found documents classified in 11 boxes: one “Top Secret / SCI”, four “Top Secret”, three “Secret” and finally three “Secret”.
Among these designations, Top Secret/SCI (to Important confidential/sensitive information) represents the highest level of recognition and represents only extremely sensitive information. SCI-coded documents can only be viewed in secure offices owned by the federal government and require special access, even by those with “Top Secret” clearance.
“It’s probably coded documents that allow for a high degree of confidentiality and, frankly, it’s information that a very small number of people have access to,” former FBI administrator Joshua School said in an interview with CNN.
Little information has been released about the contents of the documents seized at Mar-a-Lago. According to the Washington Post Citing anonymous sources close to the investigation, some of the documents are related to nuclear weapons, whether the information is related to a US arsenal or information from a foreign power. Donald Trump has denied an exposé on the social network he created, the Truth Community, which he denounced as “a hoax”.
The list of seized documents mentions a collection relating to the “President of France”. No other details were given about the nature of the information, nor about the current French president. Emmanuel Macron. Elysee declined to comment when asked by several media outlets.
A threat to national security?
According to the search warrant made public on Friday, US justice has serious reasons to suspect that the former President of the United States violated three laws (Sections 793, 2071 and 1519). Title 18 of the United States Code ), related to national security.
First, Section 793 of the Espionage Act of 1917 prohibits the “collection, transmission, or loss of information” related to national security. If convicted, Donald Trump theoretically faces a maximum of 10 years in prison for each violation.
A second plea to justify the search conducted by the FBI on Monday was the removal or destruction of official documents, which could lead to up to three years in prison. Disqualification from public office.
Finally, Section 1519 prevents a federal investigation by destroying or concealing documents. The maximum penalty is 20 years imprisonment.
These laws make no distinction between classified and unclassified documents. All documents that could endanger national security are of concern.
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However, according to US media, it is unclear whether the investigation will lead to the indictment of Donald Trump. According to experts, the implementation of the Espionage Act does not mean that the former president is at risk of being indicted. “Espionage law includes crimes that have nothing to do with espionage,” espionage attorney Bradley Moss said on Twitter.
“If you can’t prove that classified information was sold to a third party, it would be a huge stretch to prosecute the former president of the United States on this basis,” attorney Charles Elson told CNBC.
Donald Trump, for his part, promises that he himself declassified all the documents found by investigators at his property in Florida before leaving the White House. However, there is currently no indication that the former president followed official procedures to obtain the declassification of these important documents. Also, according to many analysts, documents related to US nuclear weapons cannot be classified.
What is Trump’s political future?
The search of Donald Trump’s properties at Mar-a-Lago is part of an investigation into documents the former president allegedly illegally took with him from the White House in January 2021 at the end of his tenure.
US presidents must submit all of their emails, letters and other working documents to the US National Archives. However, Donald Trump was carrying fifteen boxes of documents that archivists had already had to retrieve at Mar-a-Lago in January.
Very rarely, a search warrant is issued At the request of Merrick Garland, Attorney General of the United States. A way to respond to accusations of a “witch hunt” taken in chorus by Donald Trump’s supporters.
The US far-right, already reinvigorated by the prosecution of participants in the attack on the Capitol in Washington, has been unleashed again against an alleged Democratic conspiracy to prevent their champion from representing them in 2024.
According to some legal experts, a violation of Section 18 of United States Code Section 2071, which deals with the removal or destruction of official records, could lead to a sentence of disqualification. Other experts argue that this sanction applies to all positions in the administration except the presidency of the United States.
>> Read: Could FBI’s Shock Search at Mar-a-Lago Lead to Donald Trump’s Disqualification?
Beyond the legal dispute, the impeachment against Donald Trump could greatly complicate his return to the stage, said Mark Elias, a lawyer specializing in elections who has worked for several Democratic candidates.
“I agree that it is a legal challenge for a president to use this law, but imagine a candidate having to answer these charges in court during a campaign, that would be a ‘blockbuster’ in American political life in my view,” he quipped.
Donald Trump is already facing several actions in several US states: election interference charges in Georgia, Tax fraud In New York, there was no mention of potential prosecutions for inciting his supporters A violent attack on the Capitol building on January 6, 2021. Finally, a defamation trial between Donald Trump and a woman who accused him of rape is scheduled for February 2023.
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