Reporting in the wake of the recent FBI raid of former President Donald Trump’s Florida home has suggested that the government could be probing possible violations of the federal Espionage Act, and now Republican Sen. Rand Paul (KY) is calling for that law to be removed from the U.S. Code altogether, as Fox News reports.
The warrant used to facilitate the shocking search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate last Monday – which has since been unsealed – indicates that law enforcement officers were granted the authority to seize documents and records marked classified or relating to “the transmission of national defense information or classified material,” as The Hill noted,
According to the search warrant, officers were also authorized to seize “any evidence of the knowing alteration, destruction, or concealment of any government and/or Presidential Records, or of any documents with classification markings,” leading to the conclusion that the government was likely eyeing charges under the aforementioned statute.
Agents, according to Fox News, seized sets of material bearing “classified” markings as well as some documents marked “top secret,” though according to Trump, everything taken by the agents had all been previously declassified.
With the aforementioned facts as a foundation, Paul lashed out at the continued existence of the World War I-era Espionage Act in a message posted to Twitter on Saturday.
“The espionage act was abused from the beginning to jail dissenters of WWI. It is long past time to repeal this egregious affront to the 1st Amendment,” Paul wrote, including a link to a 2019 article from the Future of Freedom Foundation arguing the same.
In that piece, author Jacob Hornberger blasted the federal government’s use of what he called a “tyrannical law” to indict WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, noting that some in the media were “finally coming to the realization that if the Espionage Act can be enforced against Assange for what he did, it can be enforced against anyone in the press for revealing damaging inside information about the national-security establishment – i.e., the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA.”
Hornberger went on to declare, “the law should simply be repealed” and “Americans need to start demanding repeal rather than simply pleading with the Justice Department to enforce it in a more judicious manner.”
The merits of Hornberger’s – and by extension, Paul’s – contentions about the inherent flaws of the Espionage Act aside, if Trump is indeed indicted for violations of the controversial law when former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton faced no consequences for conduct extremely similar to that of which the former president may stand accused, the credibility of both the Justice Department and the FBI will almost certainly be damaged beyond salvation.