The DOJ is reportedly investigating former President Donald Trump for potentially breaking the Espionage Act, according to the new search warrant that was used to seize documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property.
The Espionage Act from 1917 has been used to bring charges against the most notorious spies in American history, including Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen, who both have life sentences for spying for Russian and Soviet intelligence services when they were working for the CIA and FBI.
The Espionage Act has been criticized for a long time for its perceived over-aggression, particularly against whistleblowers and journalists. In a new interview, reporter Chip Gibbons noted that it’s “almost if not impossible” to put up a defense against any charges under the Espionage Act.
Now, a sitting senator is calling for the repeal of the Espionage Act entirely. In a tweet recently, Sen. Rand Paul wrote, “The espionage act was misused from the beginning to jail those who opposed World War I.” It’s long past the time to repeal this egregious infringement of the First Amendment.
Paul linked to a 2019 piece by Jacob Hornberger, a libertarian presidential candidate and the founder of the organization called the Future of Freedom Foundation, which referred to the Espionage Act as “tyrannical.” In reply to the charges against Julian Assange, Hornberger wrote about appealing the Espionage Act.
Paul initially was against Trump during the 2016 GOP presidential primaries, and he disputed several of Trump’s initiatives as president — in reply to the United States April 2017 missile strike in Syria, Paul stated, “When we all condemn the crimes in Syria, the U.S. was not attacked.” However, Paul also became a vocal defender of Pres. Donald Trump against Trump’s most ferocious critics.
Paul has been a prominent advocate for the criminalization of Hillary Clinton’s conduct as Secretary of State regarding secure information. “The FBI proved beyond any doubt that Clinton had violated classified standards and recklessly endangered our national security—and did this repeatedly, over 100 times,” in July 2016, Paul said.
Paul has yet to submit a bill formally repealing the Espionage Act. If he does, it is expected not to receive the necessary support in Congress.
To put it another way, the Espionage Act provision for which Trump is being investigated could lead to a ten-year prison term.