The search warrant for the raid on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home on Monday suggests he is being investigated under the Espionage Act of 1917 — the same law that Hillary Clinton was suspected of violating in 2016.
Attorney General Merrick Garland admitted Thursday that he personally approved the warrant application, which seeks broad discretion to search Trump’s home based on three statutes: 18 U.S.C. section 793, on the mishandling of defense information; 18 U.S.C. section 1519, relating to the destruction of federal documents; and 18 U.S.C. section 2071, which punishes hiding, moving, or destroying federal documents. Section 793 is from the Espionage Act of 1917, passed during the First World War.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was suspected of violating the latter when she used an unsecured private email server in her own home to handle her communications, including emails with classified information, during her time in office.
The relevant part of section 793 punishes “gross negligence” in the handling of defense information, and failure to report the loss or destruction of that information. Clinton was accused of both; her staff even physically destroyed her mobile phones.
Then-FBI Director James Comey, who intervened in the case after then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch was caught meeting with former President Bill Clinton on the tarmac of an airport in Arizona, said that while Hillary Clinton had been “extremely careless” in her handling of classified information, she did not intend to violate the statute. The statute does not, however, include any requirement of intent, leading conservative critics to argue that Comey had been looking to exonerate her.