Trump is facing multiple charges, including one under the Espionage Act, for the way he handled hundreds of classified documents since leaving the White House in January 2021. The former president was indicted Thursday by a grand jury in the Southern District of Florida, according to special counsel Jack Smith who was appointed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to oversee the case. Smith said on Friday that Trump is facing charges related to violations of U.S. national security laws and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
The FBI seized the classified documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida last August after a grand jury issued a subpoena in May 2022 requiring him to return all the documents with classified markings that he kept. Meanwhile, Trump has denied any wrongdoing and said he declassified the documents before taking them.
Snowden, the former computer intelligence consultant who leaked highly classified information from the National Security Agency (NSA) in 2013, said on Friday that Trump mishandled classified documents, but also blamed the “broken system” in Washington for the spillage of secrets.
“All kidding aside, it’s not wrong to say that the indictment of Donald Trump for mishandling classified documents is a case of selective prosecution. Spilled secrets are very much the currency of Washington, and Trump was not alone in splashing them around. He was just the least graceful,” he tweeted. “Still, it’s hard to feel sorry for a man who had four years in the White House to reform that broken system—and instead left it in place to the detriment of the American public. He is caught within the same gears his own hands once turned.”
In another tweet, Snowden shared a 2019 picture of Trump surrounded by large amounts of fast food inside the White House, and wrote: “Did somebody say indictments?” The picture of Trump was taken when he was celebrating the Clemson University football team’s victory in the national college playoffs, and decided to pay out of pocket for the food because of the government shutdown at the time.
Snowden also responded on Friday to a Twitter user who asked him what he would have done if he was the president, to which the whistleblower responded, “Haven’t really thought about it, Hank, but I’d surely reduce the number of things we classify by more than 99%—and you would not find the remainder in my bathroom or behind my Corvette.”
Snowden was referring to President Joe Biden who also kept classified documents that dated back to the Barack Obama administration in his locked garage where he keeps his Corvette at his private residence in Wilmington, Delaware. Snowden was also referring to a viral image of classified documents that were stored inside a bathroom at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home.
Last August, some legal experts said that Trump might have violated the U.S. Espionage Act by taking classified documents from the White House.
The Espionage Act was first enacted by Congress in 1917 shortly after the United States entered World War I. Under the law, individuals are banned from obtaining “any information related to the national defense with intent or reason to believe that the information may be used for the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation,” according to the First Amendment Encyclopedia on the Middle Tennessee State University’s website. The law also applies to the improper handling of sensitive information related to national security.
Some Espionage Act violaters included high-profile individuals who fled the country, including Snowden and Julian Assange, the Australian WikiLeaks founder, who faces 17 charges of espionage with a potential 175-year prison sentence if convicted under the law. Snowden, who was granted Russian citizenship, faces three espionage charges and could face up to 30 years in jail if convicted.
However, Timothy Parlatore, a former Trump attorney who represented him in the classified documents case, told Newsweek on Saturday that there was nothing in the documents that the former president kept that indicated “communication of information with the enemy or any kind of that stuff.”
“When Congress passed the Espionage Act, they were passing laws related specifically to espionage, but also other laws related to the handling of national defense information. And so just because it was related to that larger package of statutes passed [under the Act], doesn’t make it [Trump’s case] espionage. This word has been used a lot and it kind of misstates what it [the nature of the case] is,” Parlatore said, adding that his former client’s case could be treated more in accordance to willful retention of national defense information.
Published: 2023-06-10 16:34:36