Donald Trump “could be charged with espionage” over classified map

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This week was a good reminder that if you steal classified documents and post them in a gaming chatroom just to show off to your pals, you end up charged under the Espionage Act. The reason why this guy’s arrest came so swiftly was that, by posting it online in the way that he did, he handed prosecutors proof of intent.

The only reason Donald Trump wasn’t immediately arrested in his classified documents scandal was that he didn’t do something as blatant as posting them in a chatroom. Instead he just hung onto them after he was no longer permitted to possess them. His refusal to return them, and his false claim that he had returned them when he hadn’t, are enough to nail him for obstruction of justice – but it’s not enough to get a conviction against him for the more serious charge of espionage.

This means that if prosecutors want to be able to get an Espionage Act conviction against Trump, they have to prove that he did indeed have the intent to do illegal things with those documents. Proving intent can be a very long process, because prosecutors have had to reconstruct every single thing that happened with regard to these documents, in order to uncover that proof.

That’s why it’s so crucial that Jack Smith and his DOJ team have uncovered the fact that Donald Trump showed off a classified map to friends and visitors at his Mar-a-Lago home long after he left office, as reported by the New York Times on Friday. This is in fact the same thing as the guy who was arrested this week for showing off classified documents to friends in his gaming chatroom.

This is the kind of smoking gun proof of intent that’s going to allow Jack Smith and the DOJ to get a conviction against Donald Trump on actual espionage charges. This sets the stage where Trump can be indicted with espionage as the headlining charge, and obstruction of justice as the fallback charge. While obstruction comes with a prison sentence of a few years, espionage comes with a prison sentence of a decade.

Mary Trump reacted to the news about the classified map by tweeting her view that “Donald Trump could be charged with espionage.” Legal expert Dave Aronberg also stated his view that the classified map news puts Trump in violation of the Espionage Act.

This past Thursday, Jack Smith had former acting Trump Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell testify against Donald Trump to the grand jury. At this point these endgame witnesses can only be seen as the finishing pieces in the DOJ’s criminal indictment against Trump. Each additional witness puts us that much closer to seeing that indictment happen. Remember, if you’re impatient waiting for this espionage indictment to happen, just think about how little sleep Donald Trump must be getting while waiting for it to happen.

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