OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, like many Republicans, was outraged by the FBI’s unprecedented raid on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
So much so, in fact, that he’s moving to ensure that nothing the Justice Department obtained from the raid can be used to jam up the former president and indict him.
According to Monday reports, the Kentucky Republican will publicly call for repealing the century-old Espionage Act which the DOJ reportedly may use to charge Trump with illegally possessing classified materials.
Paul’s move to ditch the Espionage Act comes amid questions over whether documents in Trump’s possession were actually classified; he has said he declassified everything shortly before leaving office, which is a long-standing presidential prerogative.
“The espionage act was abused from the beginning to jail dissenters of WWI. It is long past time to repeal this egregious affront to the 1st Amendment,” Paul tweeted without mentioning the former president specifically.
The espionage act was abused from the beginning to jail dissenters of WWI. It is long past time to repeal this egregious affront to the 1st Amendment.
Repeal the Espionage Act – The Future of Freedom Foundation https://t.co/3KCgujpS9z
— Rand Paul (@RandPaul) August 13, 2022
Paul included a link to a piece published at the Future of Freedom Foundation that calls for repealing the law from 2019.
In it, Jacob G. Hornberger, the foundation’s founder and president, makes the case that the statute is “tyrannical” and has been used in the past to punish government whistleblowers:
World War I is the gift that just keeps on giving. Although the U.S. government’s intervention into this senseless, immoral, and destructive war occurred 100 years ago, the adverse effects of the war continue to besiege our nation. Among the most notable examples is the Espionage Act, a tyrannical law that was enacted two months after the U.S. entered the war and which, unfortunately, remained on the books after the war came to an end. In fact, it is that World War I relic that U.S. officials are now relying on to secure the criminal indictment of Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks head who released a mountain of evidence disclosing the inner workings and grave wrongdoing on the part of the U.S. national-security establishment, especially with respect to the manner in which it has waged it undeclared forever wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
“The law converted anyone who publicly criticized the draft or attempted to persuade American men to resist the draft into felons. And make no mistake about it: U.S. officials went after such people with a vengeance, doing their best to punish Americans for doing nothing more than speaking,” Hornberger continued.
A former Trump national security figure, Kash Patel, has argued that Trump declassified the documents he had with him at Mar-a-Lago because, like Assange, “he thought the American public should have the right to read” them.
“Trump declassified whole sets of materials in anticipation of leaving government that he thought the American public should have the right to read themselves,” Patel, a former Department of Defense official under Trump, told Breitbart News.
“The White House counsel failed to generate the paperwork to change the classification markings, but that doesn’t mean the information wasn’t declassified,” Patel added, according to Breitbart News. “I was there with President Trump when he said ‘We are declassifying this information.’
“This story is just another disinformation campaign designed to break the public trust in a president that lived on transparency. It’s yet another way to attack Trump and say he took classified information when he did not,” he added.
Former U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), now CEO of Trump Media & Technology Group, also blasted the Biden DOJ over allegations that Trump violated espionage laws or that he was obstructing justice after reportedly cooperating with government investigators for months.
“So once again, this is a continued investigation of Trump and the Republican Party. It’s basically an investigation in search of a crime. And then conveniently, they brought back the Mueller witch hunt argument that ‘Oh, my God, he’s he’s obstructing justice,’” he told Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo on Sunday.
“Obstructing justice on what? you jerks!” he said.