OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
A federal judge on Friday ordered that the warrant used to search former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Florida house be unsealed.
Meanwhile, more information regarding the Monday raid continues to trickle out, including why the FBI was sent to the property.
According to a search warrant seen by Politico, Trump is being investigated for violations of the Espionage Act, a century-old law that has seldom been used to prosecute Americans.
“A receipt accompanying the search warrant, viewed by POLITICO on Friday, shows that Trump possessed documents including a handwritten note; documents marked with ‘TS/SCI,’ which indicate one of the highest levels of government classification; and another item labeled ‘Info re: President of France,'” the outlet reported.
The report adds:
The warrant shows federal law enforcement was investigating Trump for removal or destruction of records, obstruction of an investigation, and violating the Espionage Act. Conviction under the statutes can result in imprisonment or fines.
The documents, which are expected to be unsealed later Friday after the Justice Department sought their public disclosure amid relentless attacks by Trump and his GOP allies, underscore the extraordinary national security threat that federal investigators believed the missing documents presented. The concern grew so acute that Attorney General Merrick Garland approved the unprecedented search of Trump’s estate last week.
A spokesman for Trump, Taylor Budowich, said the raid on Monday “not just unprecedented, but unnecessary — and now they are leaking lies and innuendos to try to explain away the weaponization of government against their dominant political opponent. This is outrageous.”
In 2016, then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton famously avoided charges under the same statute when then-FBI Director James Comey announced that, while she illegally possessed classified materials on her private email server, he did not believe she would be prosecuted by the Justice Department.
However, the top lawyer at the FBI at the time begged to differ.
The Hill reported in February 2019:
For most of the past three years, the FBI has tried to portray its top leadership as united behind ex-Director James Comey’s decision not to pursue criminal charges against Hillary Clinton for transmitting classified information over her insecure, private email server.
Although in the end that may have been the case, we now are learning that Comey’s top lawyer, then-FBI General Counsel James Baker, initially believed Clinton deserved to face criminal charges, but was talked out of it “pretty late in the process.”
The revelation is contained in testimony Baker gave to House investigators last year. His testimony has not been publicly released, but I was permitted to review a transcript.
Under questioning by then-Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), Baker made clear his early position that Clinton ought to face criminal charges.
“I have reason to believe that you originally believed it was appropriate to charge Hillary Clinton with regard to violations of law — various laws, with regard to mishandling of classified information. Is that accurate?” Ratcliffe, a former federal prosecutor who went on to serve as Trump’s director of national intelligence, asked Baker.
Baker answered, “Yes.” Later, he explained how he came to his conclusion and how he changed his mind.
“So, I had that belief initially after reviewing, you know, a large binder of her emails that had classified information in them,” he said. “And I discussed it internally with a number of different folks, and eventually became persuaded that charging her was not appropriate because we could not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that — we, the government, could not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that — she had the intent necessary to violate (the law),” he said, per The Hill.
He then explained when he changed his mind: “Pretty late in the process, because we were arguing about it, I think, up until the end.”
Baker was also clear he did not approve of Clinton’s actions.
“My original belief after — well, after having conducted the investigation and towards the end of it, then sitting down and reading a binder of her materials — I thought that it was alarming, appalling, whatever words I said, and argued with others about why they thought she shouldn’t be charged,” he testified, The Hill added.