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Liberals Hated The Espionage Act. Then The FBI Used It Against Trump

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Prominent Democrats and left-leaning journalists have developed a newfound appreciation for the Espionage Act — which they once criticized as being unconstitutional and abusive — now that it’s being used against former President Donald Trump.

The FBI raided Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago Aug. 8 as part of an investigation into a potential violation of the Espionage Act, which can be used to prosecute illegal spying but also leaking or mishandling classified documents. Liberals once widely opposed the law, which they viewed as an infringement on free speech and a way for the government to abuse its critics.

“The most serious alleged crime cited in the Trump search warrant is under the Espionage Act of 1917. In the past, many leftists and civil libertarians have railed against the breadth and scope of this law, calling it repressive and unconstitutionally vague,” Alan Dershowitz, Harvard Law School professor, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

“But now that the shoe is on the other foot— now that the same law is being deployed against a possible presidential candidate they deplore— many of these same leftists are demanding that this accordion-like law be expanded to fit Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified material,” he said.

The left has been quiet on the use of the Espionage Act to justify an investigation into one of President Joe Biden’s chief political rivals, and several prominent liberals appear to view it as justified and have adopted positive attitudes towards the Espionage Act.

“For the warrant to cover the Espionage Act, there had to be PROBABLE CAUSE of espionage,” wrote Tristan Snell, an attorney and political commentator. “Not just a ‘what if Trump gave classified docs to foreign agents.’ There was PROOF presented to the judge — witness testimony, video footage, other documents, something. Tangible proof.”

Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin said violations of the Espionage Act were “not technically treason but close.”

The Espionage Act has been used to crack down on journalists who leak classified government documents to the press, including Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has challenged the constitutionality of applying the Espionage Act to left-wing anti-government activities, Dershowitz explained, but they’ve been silent about its use against a politician they dislike.

“Perhaps the most glaring manifestation of the double standard currently at work is the different approach taken to the alleged mishandling of classified material by Trump, on the one hand, and former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, on the other hand,” Dershowitz said. “No wide-ranging search warrants were sought for Clinton’s home where private servers were apparently kept. And then FBI director James Comey announced that no criminal prosecution has ever been taken for comparable mishandling of classified material.”

ACLU did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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