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Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Tuesday, August 16, 2022

The federal court-authorized search of former President Donald Trump's Florida estate has brought renewed attention to the obscure but infamous law known as the Espionage Act of 1917. A section of the law was listed as one of three potential violations under Justice Department investigation.

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...The Espionage Act has historically been employed most often by law-and-order conservatives. But the biggest uptick in its use occurred during the Obama administration, which used it as the hammer of choice for national security leakers and whistleblowers. Regardless of whom it is used to prosecute, it unfailingly prompts consternation and outrage.

We are both attorneys who specialize in and teach national security law. While navigating the sound and fury over the Trump search, here are a few things to note about the Espionage Act.

Espionage Act seldom pertains to espionage

When you hear "espionage," you may think spies and international intrigue. One portion of the act -- 18 U.S.C. section 794 -- does relate to spying for foreign governments, for which the maximum sentence is life imprisonment.

That aspect of the law is best exemplified by the convictions of Jonathan Pollard in 1987, for spying for and providing top-secret classified information to Israel; former Central Intelligence Agency officer Aldrich Ames in 1994, for being a double agent for the Russian KGB; and, in 2002, former FBI agent Robert Hanssen, who was caught selling U.S. secrets to the Soviet Union and Russia over a span of more than 20 years. All three received life sentences.

But spy cases are rare. More typically, as in the Trump investigation, the act applies to the unauthorized gathering, possessing or transmitting of certain sensitive government information. ...


Quite the informative article. Only the second place where I'd heard mention of 18 U.S.C. section 794.

#1 | Posted by LampLighter at 2022-08-15 08:55 PM | Reply

@#1 ...Quite the informative article....

For example...

From the cited article....

...A violation does not require an intention to aid a foreign power

Willful unauthorized possession of information that, if obtained by a foreign government, might harm U.S. interests is generally enough to trigger a possible sentence of 10 years.

Current claims by Trump supporters of the seemingly innocuous nature of the conduct at issue -- simply possessing sensitive government documents -- miss the point. The driver of the Department of Justice's concern under Section 793 is the sensitive content and the connection to national defense information, known as "NDI." ...



"...Willful unauthorized possession of information that, if obtained by a foreign government, might harm U.S. interests is generally enough to trigger a possible sentence of 10 years...."

Oh dear. I am reminded of the lawyer's apparent certification that all classified materials had been returned in June.

No wonder the Republicans are besides themselves on this.

#2 | Posted by LampLighter at 2022-08-15 09:00 PM | Reply

As for intent let's don't forget that Trump's favorite delivery boy, Paul Manafort, suddenly and inexplicitly, appeared on the scene to let it be known that he still had the ways and means and was ready to go back to work.

The timing of his message was way too convenient to be a coincidence.

#3 | Posted by Twinpac at 2022-08-16 10:11 AM | Reply

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