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Former US President Donald Trump is being investigated by the FBI for a potential violation of the Espionage Act, as well as obstructing justice, a search warrant has revealed.
The search warrant - newly unsealed on Friday (12 August) and seen by Politico - reveals that the FBI is investigating Trump for a potential violation of the Espionage Act and removed classified documents from the former president’s Florida estate earlier this week.
According to Politico, a receipt accompanying the FBI's search warrant of Mar-a-Lago shows that the 76-year-old possessed highly classified government documents.
Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate was raided by the FBI earlier this week, in what was an unprecedented move by a federal agency against a former US President.
It led to intense speculation over what the cause could be, but Politico reports that the main motivation was to retrieve documents that the businessman had illegally kept after his presidential term was over.
The outlet write: "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 Espionage Act was first introduced back in 1917, with the expressed aim to prevent interference in US military operations.
Since then, it has generally been used against whistle bowlers and people termed 'traitors' by the American government. This includes Edward Snowden and Daniel Ellsberg, who both lifted the lid on state secrets.
The scale of the raid on Trump's own estate speaks to how sensitive federal investigators believe the documents to be, as the ensuing backlash from many on the political right has been fierce.
Far right US Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, one of Trump's loyal supporters within the Republican Party, wrote 'DEFUND THE FBI!' in capital letters on Twitter in the hours after the raid.
I stand with President Trump!!!— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene🇺🇸 (@RepMTG) August 9, 2022
In the opinion of many Trump allies, the FBI's investigation is entirely politically motivated, an attempt - in their eyes - to smear the former Apprentice USA host ahead of his assumed 2024 Presidential run.
However, as Politico states, there is clear grounds for an investigation, as Trump didn't hand back highly secretive documents and files that could pose a risk to US national security.
While the contents of said documents are yet to be revealed by the FBI, or Attorney General Merrick Garland (who approved the raid), Trump himself has publicly called for them to be unsealed.
Donald Trump says he wants the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago search warrant and evidence list released immediately pic.twitter.com/nkli1SWqlH— Miranda Devine (@mirandadevine) August 12, 2022
“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,” he wrote on Truth Social on Thursday (August 11).
“This unprecedented political weaponisation of law enforcement is inappropriate and highly unethical,” he added.
A federal judge had given Trump until Friday at 3pm EST to decide whether to accept the Department of Justice’s plead for the documents related to the search to be unsealed.
In a statement from the headquarters of the justice department in Washington earlier on Thursday, Attorney General Garland also appealed for their release on the back of Trump's own statement.
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