Everything About Trump’s Potential Violation of the Espionage Act That is Known So Far

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While Donald Trump may have stepped down from the role of US President a while ago, the amount of news surrounding him certainly hasn’t died down even after his term as President.

More recently, you might have heard that Trump, 76, had his home, Mar-a-Lago in Florida, raided by law enforcement officers.

And here’s all you need to know about the raid, including how and why it even took place in the first place.

Raid Was to Find Classified Documents Trump Took With Him After Stepping Down

On Monday (8 August), agents from the FBI in the United States raided Trump’s home in an attempt to try and retrieve information regarding Trump and the way he handled classified materials.

In particular, he has been accused of keeping various presidential records from his term as President with him, and some of these documents contain private information.

This was confirmed by Christina Bobb, one of Trump’s lawyers, who spoke on Real America’s Voice on Tuesday (9 August).

At his house, FBI agents broke open a safe to try and find classified documents.

Thereafter, the FBI agents reportedly found and removed multiple materials that were indicated as “top secret” from Trump’s personal residence.

These documents are only supposed to be viewed in secure government facilities, and I’m pretty sure we all know that Trump’s house isn’t one.

And if he is found guilty of violating the Espionage Act, which punishes those who carry out the “retrieval, storage, or transmission of national defense information or classified material”, he faces up to 20 years in jail.

The FBI Found 11 Sets of Documents During the Raid

In total, the agents seized four sets of top secret documents marked with “ts/sci”, three sets of secret documents and three sets of confidential documents from Trump’s residence.

In addition to that, the FBI were apparently on the lookout for documents pertaining to nuclear weapons during the search.

According to various sources, Trump has claimed the documents as his own in the past, and has said that the documents belong to him.

Trump Refused to Answer Questions from Attorney-General, Said that There is a Conspiracy Against Him

After the raid, Trump was at a deposition in New York for an oral testimony, but refused to answer any questions posed by New York’s Attorney-General Letitia James, citing the Fifth Amendment, which protects individuals from having to incriminate themselves.

Ms James has been looking into whether Trump has attempted to increase the value of his assets in a dishonest manner in order to obtain loans and other benefits since March 2019.

Soon after the questioning started, Trump’s office also issued a statement stating that the former President would be invoking his right against self-incrimination.


The statement, which also brought up the raid, accused the inquiry process of being “part of a grander conspiracy” against him as well.

On Thursday (11 August), Trump also announced on his Truth Social platform that his attorneys have been “cooperating fully” with the government’s investigations.

FBI Apparently Tried to Obtain the Documents Through Other Methods

Just two days ago on Thursday (11 August), a representative of Trump to the National Archives revealed that Trump was subpoenaed earlier this year in the spring.

A subpoena, which is a writ ordering someone to attend court, was issued to Trump for him to hand over the classified documents that were in his possession.

According to the representative, this meant that the Justice Department in the United States “tried other methods to account for” the relevant documents.

Attorney General Issued a Public Warrant, Said He “Personally Approved” Decision to Raid Trump’s House

Following the announcement that revealed Trump’s subpoena, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland decided to make the warrant and supporting documents pertaining to the raid public.


When speaking to reporters on Thursday (11 August), he added that he “personally approved” the decision to raid Trump’s house, and that the decision was made after “less intrusive” methods to obtain the materials from Trump failed.

After the warrant and documents were publicised, Trump announced that he will not oppose the motion to release them.

However, his lawyers have yet to respond officially to the Justice Department.

Trump Initially Submitted Torn-Up Documents When Returning Them

Before leaving office on 20 January 2021, Trump was supposed to return government and classified documents to the National Archives, but the materials that the National Archives received were in poor condition, to say the least.

According to the National Archives, a large portion of the documents were “torn up and taped back together”. Other documents were also found to be in scraps, which authorities could not piece together.


His exit from the White House was also termed as “disorganised”, as many of Trump’s personnel were busy trying to dispute the results of the 2020 Presidential Election.

The Trump administration was also busy trying to prepare for Trump’s second impeachment trial, which was held around a month later in February.

Trump Handed Over More Documents Belonging to the White House in January This Year

And the documents found in the raid aren’t even all the documents that he took with him after leaving office.

Earlier this year in January, Trump was made to hand 15 boxes’ worth of documents to the National Archives. He had taken the documents with him “improperly” when leaving office.

The National Archives also claimed that they had to liaise with Trump’s lawyers for an entire year in 2021 before they relented and allowed the documents to be submitted.


Personal letters and gifts such as former President Barack Obama’s congratulatory note addressed to Trump, as well as letters from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, were found in the boxes.

“These records should have been transferred to NARA from the White House at the end of the Trump administration in January 2021,” the National Archives noted in its statement.

National Archives Found Classified Information in Documents in February and Contacted the Justice Department

The National Archives then found out in February that some of the documents that Trump had held onto after stepping down appeared to contain classified information, prompting them to alert the Justice Department.

This then launched a series of investigations, including requests for the National Archives to collate a list of documents that Trump did not return at the end of his presidential term.

However, the Justice Department told the National Archives to not disclose any other details regarding the documents that were found in Mar-a-Lago, indicating that the FBI might have started its own criminal investigation.


The Justice Department then released a subpoena to the National Archives at the start of May, asking them to retrieve the classified documents from the boxes submitted by Trump.

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Joe Biden and the White House Have Kept Quiet About the Investigations

And if you’re wondering what current US President Joe Biden thinks about the raid, he’s been keeping relatively quiet about that for now.

According to Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, Biden was not informed in advance that the raid would occur on Monday (8 Auugst).

Another White House official also clarified that the President did not know that Attorney General Merrick B. Garland would be addressing reporters on Thursday (11 August).

Apparently, this is so that the law enforcement operation is seen as fair and unbiased, especially after Biden pledged to make the Justice Department independent again.


During Trump’s term, he was often perceived to have used the Justice Department to his own political benefit.

Despite this, many of Trump’s allies have still accused the operation of being politically motivated, with some such as Representative Kevin McCarthy of California insisting that the raid is part of a “witch hunt”.

Some Republicans and conservatives have also said that this entire search is an attempt to make Trump seem “weaker” if he runs for President again in 2024, which he previously announced his interest in.

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Featured Image: Evan El-Amin / Shutterstock.com

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