Turley doesn't think Trump should be charged under Espionage Act

By Jen Krausz on
 June 16, 2023

Fox News legal contributor and George Washington University Law professor Jonathan Turley wrote in a Tuesday op-ed that he doesn't think former President Donald Trump should be charged under the Espionage Act for alleged mishandling of classified documents.

Turley acknowledged in the Daily Beast that the photos of boxes stacked up in a bathroom at Mar-A-Lago don't look good, but he didn't think Trump's behavior in storing and even sharing some of the documents met the requirement in the law of an "intent to harm" U.S. national security.

"The law references an intent either to harm the national security of the U.S. or benefit a foreign power," Turley said. "No one is suggesting that harm actually occurred or that Trump intended to cause such harm. However, the government is proceeding under specific provisions making mishandling (and the refusal to turn over documents) a crime. That is the harm that the government will argue."

Turley actually doesn't like the Espionage Act much, he said. To him, it “often seems like the last refuge of the government when it lacks any other means to punish targeted persons.”

He cited the example of Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, who published classified information leaked to him by Chelsea Manning as many other journalists have done, but because the DOJ didn't like what he had done, they charged him under the Espionage Act.

Turley also pointed out that Trump's age could make almost any jail term a life sentence if he is convicted of the charges, which carry sentences of 10 to 20 years each.