Trump could be imperiled by a law he approved in 2018: legal expert

Trump could be imperiled by a law he approved in 2018: legal expert

In 2018, then-President Donald Trump signed into law a bill that called for stiffer penalties for mishandling classified information. That law, Business Insider’s Tom Porter reports in an article published on August 10, “could be used to punish” Trump “if he's found to have mishandled classified information after leaving office.”

On Monday, August 10, FBI agents executed a search warrant at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in South Florida. At issue were documents being kept at Mar-a-Lago.

“Bradley P. Moss, a national-security attorney, told Insider that Trump could face five years in prison if he's found guilty under a national security bill which he signed as president,” Porter explains. “The bill, which made changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), was signed into law by Trump in January 2018. It upgraded the seriousness of wrongly moving classified material, turning it from a misdemeanor into a felony — and increasing the maximum punishment from one year to five.”

READ MORE: 'Mistrust and paranoia': Trump loyalists accuse aides of 'flipping' after FBI’s Mar-a-Lago search

Porter continues, “Moss noted that it was passed in the wake of Trump's relentless attacks during the 2016 presidential campaign on Hillary Clinton for allegedly mishandling classified information. But now, it is Trump who is under pressure.”

Porter notes that “there are some doubts about whether the bill Trump signed into law” in 2018 “could be used to prosecute him, said Moss, as it's unclear whether it applies to former presidents.”

Moss told Business Insider, “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.”

Another federal law, the Presidential Records Act of 1978, was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Jimmy Carter 44 years ago, although it didn’t go into effect until after Ronald Reagan was sworn in as president in January 1981. Under that federal law, White House documents must be handed over to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) after a president leaves office — and transporting them to a private residence such as Mar-a-Lago would be a violation. In 2014, when Barack Obama was president, the Presidential Records Act was amended to address electronic/digital records.

READ MORE: 'Law enforcement had serious concerns': Reporter reveals FBI gained access to Mar-a-Lago surveillance footage

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