Mar-a-Lago Raid Documents Unsealed, Show Trump Investigation Related to Espionage Act

The Espionage Act covers the removal, destruction or concealment of any defense-related documents with intent to harm the U.S.

Donald Trump
DALLAS, TEXAS – AUGUST 06: Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Hilton Anatole on August 06, 2022 in Dallas, Texas. CPAC began in 1974, and is a conference that brings together and hosts conservative organizations, activists, and world leaders in discussing current events and future political agendas. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

FBI agents seized several boxes of papers from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate during its Monday raid, including documents marked “top secret,” according to warrant documents reviewed by TheWrap that suggest the former President is being investigated under the Espionage Act.

According to the documents unsealed by a federal judge Friday, the FBI seized 20 boxes of items, including documents marked “Various classified/TS/SCI” documents. Agents also found four sets of “top secret documents, three sets of secret documents, and three sets of confidential documents.”

The documents show the the government is investigating Trump for, among other things, federal statute 739 — aka The Espionage Act — which punishes anyone who knowingly tries to remove, destroy, or conceal any defense-related with the intent to harm U.S. interests.

A federal judge on Friday agreed to unseal documents around the raid, including the search warrant and seized-property receipts — a move that Trump himself supported in a statement:

“Not only will I not oppose the release of documents related to the unAmerican, unwarranted, and unnecessary raid and break-in of my home in Palm Beach, Florida, Mar-a-Lago, I am going a step further by ENCOURAGING the immediate release of those documents, even though they have been drawn up by radical left Democrats and possible future political opponents, who have a strong and powerful vested interest in attacking me, much as they have done for the last 6 years.”

The disclosure that Trump had top secret US documents at Mar-a-Lago was met with concern by both Democrats and Republicans. Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former US Rep. Charles Dent of Pennsylvania — both Republicans — appeared on Wolf Blitzer’s CNN show Friday to express their concerns.

“If in fact they had a sense that there was not just top secret documents, but also special access documents, which is a classification above top secret, I don’t think the government had much choice but to get in there,” Kasich said. “We need to look at this. We need to be careful about this. We need to get to the bottom of why it happened. But most important, if those documents were there and represented a threat to national security, of course you have to go and pick up those documents.”

Kasich added: “This is what’s disturbing: People have allowed their personal views of Donald Trump to inform their views about this. I don’t think that’s the way we should head.”

Dent, who now serves as the executive director of the bi-partisan Aspen Institute, said if any member of Congress took classified material out of a secured government facility, “I assure you that we would have had a G-Man come visit us and take those back.”

“There would not have been any negotiation,” Dent said. “Each member of Congress knows that they have to sign a document each session warning them of the dangers of handling classified material and for the potential violations of law.”

Dent added: “And for Donald Trump to go out there and say he is a victim and that all Americans are victims because the government issued a search warrant to take its material back, that is ridiculous. The average American doesn’t handle classified material. The president of the United States should know better.”

He said he believes Trump “brought this all on himself.”

“He doesn’t respect boundaries or rules,” Dent said. “He thinks he’s beyond that. The government doesn’t have any choice but to enforce the law and hold him to account for mishandling this classified material. It’s very sensitive and it was wrong of him.”