Donald Trump has not been charged with any crime yet, but speculation is swelling about the Department of Justice’s next moves after top secret documents were found at Trump’s Florida home.
The warrant authorizing the search at the former president’s residence in Palm Beach revealed that he is under investigation for a potential violation of the Espionage Act and other U.S. statutes.
Violation of the Espionage Act carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and fines and it was the first statute cited on the warrant. The document also cited two further statutes that can also carry prison terms if they are violated.
“All physical documents and records constituting evidence, contraband, fruits of crime, or other items illegally possessed in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 793, 2071, or 1519,” the warrant says about what property was to be seized.
The 18 U.S.C. §§ 793 statute refers to the Espionage Act, and states, in part: “Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information, relating to the national defense, (1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed. Or (2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer— Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.”
The second statute cited in the warrant, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2071, deals with the “concealment, removal, or mutilation generally” of government documents and violations carry a fine, a three year prison sentence, or both.
The statute makes it a crime for a person with custody of any record or document from a federal court or public office to willfully and unlawfully conceal, remove, mutilate, falsify or destroy that document.
The 18 U.S.C. §§ 1519 statute deals with “Destruction, alteration, or falsification of records in Federal investigations and bankruptcy and carries the highest sentence of any of the potential violations – 20 years in prison.”
“Whoever knowingly alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, covers up, falsifies, or makes a false entry in any record, document, or tangible object with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration of any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States or any case filed under title 11, or in relation to or contemplation of any such matter or case, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both,” the statute says.
The warrant revealed, the raid at Mar-a-Lago was part of an investigation of potentially serious offenses and anyone convicted of those offenses could face years in federal prison.