Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, a think tank that investigates government corruption, doesn't believe the Department of Justice's reported claims of former President Donald Trump potentially violating the "Espionage Act of 1917" will have much staying power, from a criminality perspective.
For starters, Fitton told Newsmax on Sunday morning the Espionage Act is an "elastic" law and thus difficult for government officials to prove in court against everyday American citizens — let alone former U.S. presidents.
"The question of whether Trump's materials [taken last week during the FBI's raid of the Mar-a-Lago resort] were still deemed as 'classified' is still in significant legal dispute," says Fitton, while appearing on "Wake Up America" with co-hosts Carl Higbie and Christina Thompson. "They're presumed to be his records."
To further his point, Fitton referenced then-President Bill Clinton allegedly keeping a recorded conversation with him and other world leaders, upon leaving the White House in January 2001.
Around that time, Fitton says a National Archives attorney informed him that "presidential possession 'presumptively makes it personal.'"
As such, the same courtesy and/or rationale should be applied to whatever former President Trump had at his Florida home, especially if the documents had been previously declassified.
"[Trump] didn't need a standing order" to take personal documents home after leaving the White House, says Fitton. The FBI raid was "a wild abuse of power, and there's no justification for it."
The next 24-36 hours could be crucial for the Justice Department.
According to Fitton, Attorney General Merrick Garland has until 5 p.m. Monday (EST) to explain to a U.S. court what information's out there — regarding the reported seizure of 11 sets of Trump documents. Garland must also let the court know "what he's withholding" pertaining to this case.
"[The documents in question] are not classified, they're not presidential records," he said. "It's all a scam [that the feds] came in looking for classified information. They were looking for presidential records; and none of that was true. And [Trump] needs his materials back."
However this shakes out in the coming days, Fitton — who authored a book entitled, "A Republic Under Assault" — says it still doesn't justify the DOJ's actions against a former U.S. president and potential opponent to Joe Biden in the 2024 presidential election.
"My guess is the FBI will have all kinds of excuses for not behaving like a normal law enforcement operation ... in this case, involving the former president of the United States," said Fitton. "The raid should have never happened. It was a political raid. No legitimate [legal] justification for it."
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