Search warrant indicates Trump is under investigation for violating Espionage Act
Donald Trump delivering a speech at a campaign rally held at the Mohegan Sun Arena. (Evan El-Amin / Shutterstock.com)

A search warrant related to the FBI's search on Donald Trump's resort says that the agency is investigating the former president for a potential violation of the Espionage Act along with the mishandling of classified information, Politico reported on Friday.

The warrant reviewed by Politico says Trump is facing an investigation over the removal or destruction of records, obstruction of an investigation, and violating the Espionage Act, which if convicted can result in prison or fines.

"The most unexpected statute that the DOJ cited to is 18 U.S.C. 1519, which is typically used to charge the obstruction of justice by destroying or concealing evidence. The statutory language is broad enough that DOJ could be investigating whether Trump impeded agency functions," legal expert Renato Mariotti tweeted.

The search on Monday was believed to be focused on classified papers Trump may have removed from the White House, with one report suggesting they included documents related to nuclear weapons.

RELATED: Trump repeats three debunked defenses after search warrant revealed

The highly unusual move to unseal the search warrant and the receipt listing the property seized by FBI agents was announced on Thursday by Attorney General Merrick Garland -- the country's top law enforcement officer -- who said he had "personally approved" the dramatic raid on Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort home.

The inventory of seized items shows that Trump possessed documents that included a handwritten note, documents marked with “TS/SCI" -- indicating one of the highest security levels of government, and an item marked “Info re: President of France.”

The FBI raid sparked a political firestorm in an already bitterly divided country, and comes as Trump weighs another White House run in 2024.

In a statement on Thursday Trump said his attorneys had been "cooperating fully" and "the government could have had whatever they wanted, if we had it."

READ: Trump's own lawyer blows up his 'planted' evidence claims

Leading Republicans have rallied around Trump, and some members of his party have harshly denounced the Justice Department and FBI, accusing them of partisanship in targeting the ex-president.

Garland criticized what he called "unfounded attacks on the professionalism of the FBI and Justice Department agents and prosecutors."

In the hours before Garland's remarks, an armed man tried to storm an FBI office in Cincinnati, Ohio in an attack that appeared to be a direct response to the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago.

The assailant, shot dead by police after exchanges of gunfire and an hours-long standoff, was identified as Ricky Shiffer.

The New York Times said a person posting on Truth Social under that name wrote "I tried attacking the FBI," and said he hoped his actions would serve as a "call to arms."


With additional reporting by AFP