In 2018, then-President Donald Trump signed a bill into law that could now be used to punish him if he's found to have taken classified information from the White House at the end of his tenure, Business Insider reports.
Speaking to Insider, national-security attorney Bradley P. Moss said that Trump could face five years in prison if he's found guilty under the national security bill he signed.
The law upgrades the crime of wrongly moving classified material from a misdemeanor to a felony. As Moss points out, Trump signed the bill after spending the 2016 presidential campaign accusing Hillary Clinton of improperly handling classified information.
"Trump certainly has legal exposure to Section 1924 given it was classified documents from his spaces in the White House that were removed to Mar-Lago," said Moss.
Moss added that "efforts by Trump to declassify records before he left office" were another key issue that could decide whether the measures could be used to prosecute him.
The National Archives said in February it had recovered 15 boxes of documents from Trump's Florida estate, which the Washington Post reported included highly classified texts, taken with him when he left Washington following his reelection defeat.
The documents and mementos -- which also included correspondence from ex-US president Barack Obama -- should by law have been turned over at the end of Trump's presidency but instead ended up at his Mar-a-Lago resort.
The recovery of the boxes raised questions about Trump's adherence to presidential records laws enacted after the 1970s Watergate scandal that require Oval Office occupants to preserve records related to administration activity.
The Archives had requested then that the Justice Department open a probe into Trump's practices.
White House staff also regularly discovered wads of paper clogging toilets, leading them to believe Trump was trying to get rid of certain documents, according to a forthcoming book by New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman.
With additional reporting by AFP
Trump accuses FBI of ‘planting’ backpacks of damaging evidence at Mar A Lago www.youtube.com