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Day 569

1/ A group of historians warned Biden that the current moment in America is among the most dangerous to democracy in modern history, comparing the threat to democracy to the pre-Civil War era and to pro-fascist movements before World War II. The group of scholars focused on the rise of totalitarianism around the world and the threat to American democracy. (Washington Post)

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Trump investigated under Espionage Act - reports

Search warrant included storage space


The warrant says that agents are to search the “45 Office” - which refers to Trump being America’s 45th president - as well as “all storage rooms” and all rooms used by Trump and his staff in which boxes could be stored.

The warrant specifically excludes certain areas from being searched, including private guest suites or other facilities being rented or occupied by golf club members or guests.

What does the warrant say?

The search warrant was approved by a federal judge on 5 August, three days before Monday’s raid.

The court document gave law enforcement until 19 August to execute the search.

Warrant unsealed

The warrant allowing FBI agents to search Mar-a-Lago has just been unsealed by a federal judge in Florida.

It comes after the justice department made the unusual move of asking to make public a warrant involved in an active criminal investigation.

Trump: ‘It was all declassified anyway’

Representatives for Trump has been making the case since Monday that he had the authority as president to de-classify all of the recovered documents before he left office, and did so.

“Number one, it was all declassified. Number two, they didn’t need to ’seize’ anything,” he said on his social media platform, Truth Social, on Friday.

“They could have had it anytime they wanted without playing politics and breaking into Mar-a-Lago."

Legal experts have told US media it is unclear whether this argument would hold up in court.

Although the president does have the legal authority to declassify information, the procedure is unclear.

Supporters of Trump say he could simply say out loud that documents are declassified. Others argue that a more formal process is necessary.

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Trump lawyer blows up his “planted” evidence claims: Trump watched “the whole thing” on CCTV

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Trump claims he declassified all the documents at Mar-a-Lago. Even if that’s true, it probably doesn’t matter.

Former President Donald J. Trump claimed on Friday that before leaving office, he declassified all the documents the F.B.I. found in this week’s search of his Florida residence that agents described as classified in a list of what they seized — including several caches apparently marked as “top secret.”

“It was all declassified,” Mr. Trump asserted in a statement.

The claim echoed an assertion in May, after it emerged that the National Archives had found documents marked as classified in boxes of documents it removed from Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club and estate, by Kash Patel, a former Trump administration official and a major supporter of Mr. Trump. He asserted that Mr. Trump had deemed those files declassified shortly before leaving office, but the markings had not been removed from them.

Mr. Trump has offered no details, but if he is saying he made a blanket, oral invocation that all the files he took to Mar-a-Lago were unclassified, without making any formal, written record, that would be difficult to definitively prove or disprove. Even if there is no evidence that Mr. Trump followed normal procedures for declassifying certain types of information, his lawyers could argue that he was not constitutionally bound to obey such rules.

But in any case, such a claim would not settle the matter. For one thing, two of the laws that a search warrant executed at Mar-a-Lago this week referenced — Sections 1519 and 2071 of Title 18 of the United States Code — make the taking or concealment of government records a crime regardless of whether they had anything to do with national security.

For another, laws against taking or hoarding material with restricted national-security information — which generally carry heavier penalties than theft of ordinary documents — do not always line up with whether the files are technically classified.

That is because some criminal laws enacted by Congress to protect certain national-security information operate separately from the executive branch’s system of classifying documents — created by presidents using executive orders — as “confidential,” “secret,” or “top secret.”

In particular, a third law the warrant references was Section 793, which carries penalties of ten years in prison per offense. Better known as the Espionage Act, it was enacted by Congress during World War I, decades before President Harry S. Truman issued an executive order creating the modern classification system for the executive branch.

As a result, the Espionage Act makes no reference to whether a document has been deemed classified. Instead, it makes it a crime to retain, without authorization, documents related to the national defense that could be used to harm the United States or aid a foreign adversary.

Prosecutors could argue that a document meets that act’s standard regardless of whether Mr. Trump had pronounced it unclassified short before leaving office; by the same token, defense lawyers could argue that it fell short of that standard regardless of how it had been marked.

“Because the Espionage Act speaks in terms of national defense information, it leaves open the possibility that such information could be unclassified as long as an agency is still taking steps to protect it from disclosure,” said Steven Aftergood, who runs the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington.

Charlie Savage is a Washington-based national security and legal policy correspondent. A recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, he previously worked at The Boston Globe and The Miami Herald. His most recent book is “Power Wars: The Relentless Rise of Presidential Authority and Secrecy.”


FBI Recovered 11 Sets of Classified Documents in Trump Search, Inventory Shows

Trump allies claim the former president declassified the documents recovered from Mar-a-Lago


Trump lawyer claimed no classified material was at Mar-a-Lago in signed letter to Justice Department

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Could be Moscow trolling (they’ve also been talking about “saving America” and "rescuing Trump
and claiming the U.S. has more homeless children than any other country on earth, for instance).

Team Putin Airs Insane Offer to ‘Help’ America and ‘Save’ Trump


The gracious proposals include placing Donald Trump under the protection of Moscow’s security agency—and moving homeless American children to Russia.


Huh. Trump is claiming the FBI took three of his passports.

Wait, three passports?


That was my first thought too! Along with “3 of”. Just how many does he have? Are they all U.S?
I don’t count my expired ones as passports…


@GracieC and @Windthin

Just how many does he have?

As his mother was born in Scotland he would be entitled to apply for and hold a UK passport through his mothers lineage.

You may be eligible to apply for citizenship if either:

your parents were not married when you were born
your mother was British, not your father

I have also heard some speculation that one may be personal and one governmental still.


I have also heard some speculation that one may be personal and one governmental still

Well that figures also. He just can’t accept the fact that he is no longer POTUS.


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