Legal expert: Jack Smith could charge Donald Trump with espionage after latest revelations
Jack Smith, Donald Trump (Smith photo by Robin Van Lonkhuijsen for AFP/ Trump by Saul Loeb for AFP)

A little over a week ago, The New York Times reported that among the things former President Donald Trump was doing with the documents he took from the White House was showing them off to people visiting him at Mar-a-Lago.

Trump was already in hot water for having the documents and spending a year refusing to give them back. What this adds to the piece of the story, reporter Michael Schmidt explained, is another piece of Trump's "intent."

"Yeah, his son kills elephants, and he's got classified maps," said MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace.

National security experts have feared what else Trump was doing with the documents and whether they were in a safe and secure place.

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Wallace went on to ask if there was a connection between special counsel Jack Smith's probe and the recent statements from former Attorney General Bill Barr, sounding more confident that Trump will be indicted for obstruction of justice. She noted that Barr sounded so invested as if he testified himself.

Schmidt said that one thing he's observed from Barr is that no one else in the Trump universe has the savvy and political instincts to "move around on the chess board" of politics. Barr has already tried to maneuver himself into the best position in the past year. Wallace agreed, observing that he seemed to play to the audience.

But it was Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg who warned these new factoids could get Trump charged with espionage.

"Obstruction is the big whammy here because it's punishable by up to 20 years in prison. I think the reason that they asked about the map is another statute, 18 USC 719 (e), 'The Espionage Statute,' says that someone who is unauthorized to have possession of a map and then shows it to someone who can't see it violates that statute," Aronberg explained. "So, they're not just going after him for obstruction, but also espionage, which is punishable by up to ten years in prison. That's why there's a lot of trouble ahead. That's why Bill Barr is saying, hey, this is the tough one. It's not New York that will do in the former president. I think it's the Mar-a-Lago documents because there's a direct tie between the former president and the alleged criminality there."

See the full conversation below or at the link here.

18 USC 719 (e)