The DOJ must prosecute Trump if he kept nuclear documents

Adrienne Lawrence
Liberal Opinion

Adrienne Lawrence

Legal commentator
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If the FBI’s search of former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home did uncover classified documents, the Department of Justice will find itself in an unprecedented situation: Mulling whether to indict a former U.S. president. The release of the search warrant used for Trump’s home showed that it authorized the seizure of “any documents with classification markings” as well as “information regarding national defense or classified material.” A judge has yet to decide on whether to make public the affidavit the FBI used to obtain the search warrant. Straight Arrow News contributor Adrienne Lawrence says if Trump had classified nuclear documents in his possession, the DOJ has no choice but to prosecute him:

Knowledge of the type of documents that Trump was housing now really brings into focus past concerns about his handling or mishandling, shall I say, of nuclear intel. For example, back in February 2019, the House issued this report titled, “Whistleblowers raised grave concerns with Trump administration’s efforts to transfer sensitive nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.” The following month, Trump approved in secret, six secret authorizations by companies to sell nuclear power, technology and assistance to Saudi Arabia. Since Trump left office, the Saudis have quote-unquote, “invested” $2 billion with Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. And most recently, the Saudis paid Trump an unknown sum of money to host two professional golf tournaments at his properties. I would not be surprised if Trump tried to sell our nuclear secrets to the Saudis or to the highest bidder. 

Regardless of whether Trump was successful in selling such secrets, or even if he tried to do so, Trump appears to have violated a host of laws. Simply knowingly removing classified documents from the White House with the intent of keeping them in an authorized location is a crime. Under the Espionage Act, it’s also a crime to knowingly possess National Defense Information without authorization. And that happens to be an issue that’s under scrutiny right now, because whether Trump as a former president had authorization is questionable by virtue of that whole “former” status. You know, he lacks security clearance, and pursuant to the Presidential Records Act and so on.

As much as Trump wants to cast this as a witch hunt, we the People deserve to trust that our leaders and former leaders are not going to sell us out to make a buck or buddy up with our nation’s enemies to make a point. If Attorney General Merrick Garland meant what he said in terms of no one being above the law, he is going to pursue prosecuting Trump to the fullest extent. Our national security deserves protection, just as our democracy demands justice.

We now know the reason that the FBI searched Donald Trump’s home last week in Florida. The former president was reportedly concealing classified documents about our nuclear weapons. Regardless of whether Trump was trying to sell these documents to a foreign government or simply keeping them for some other purpose, he should be prosecuted and punished to the full extent of the law. Hard stop. 

As much as members of the right want to try to minimize the significance of government documents on nuclear weapons being in Trump’s possession, there’s no way to deny that this situation appears to threaten our national security. According to a source speaking to the New York Times, the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago for documents identified as being part of what the government calls it Special Access Programs, which is some designation that’s even more classified than top secret. This would explain why the Department of Justice went to such great lengths as obtaining a search warrant to recover the documents. 

As explained in the Washington Post. material about nuclear weapons is especially sensitive and usually restricted to a small number of government officials, experts said. Publicizing details about US weapons could provide an intelligence roadmap to adversaries seeking to build ways of countering those systems. And other countries might view exposing their nuclear secrets as a threat, experts said. Translation: If these documents fell into the wrong hands, the US would be screwed. We’d suddenly become a nation of what, 330 million hostages, trying to negotiate our way out of possible nuclear extinction. You know, another country also, if they were the target, they’d be on the receiving end of some terroristic takeover. Either way, it would be bad. 

Knowledge of the type of documents that Trump was housing now really bring into focus past concerns about his handling or mishandling, shall I say, of nuclear Intel. For example, back in February 2019, the House issued this report titled “Whistleblowers raised grave concerns with Trump administration’s efforts to transfer sensitive nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.” The following month, Trump approved in secret, six secret authorizations by companies to sell nuclear power, technology and assistance to Saudi Arabia. Since Trump left office, the Saudis have quote unquote, invested $2 billion with Trump’s son in law Jared Kushner. And most recently, the Saudis paid Trump an unknown sum of money to host two professional golf tournaments at his properties. I would not be surprised if Trump tried to sell our nuclear secrets to the Saudis or to the highest bidder. 

Regardless of whether Trump was successful in selling such secrets, or even if he tried to do so, Trump appears to have violated a host of laws. Simply knowingly removing classified documents from the White House with the intent of keeping them in an authorized location is a crime. Under the Espionage Act, it’s also a crime to knowingly possess National Defense Information without authorization. And that happens to be an issue that’s under scrutiny right now, because whether Trump as a former president had authorization is questionable by virtue of that whole “former” status. You know, he lacks security clearance, and pursuant to the Presidential Records Act and so on. As much as Trump wants to cast this as a witch hunt, we the People deserve to trust that our leaders and former leaders are not going to sell us out to make a buck or buddy up with our nation’s enemies to make a point. If Attorney General Merrick Garland meant what he said in terms of no one being above the law, he is going to pursue prosecuting Trump to the fullest extent. Our national security deserves protection, just as our democracy demands justice.


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