Rand Paul Calls for Repeal of Espionage Act

Citing its history of abuse by the powerful that culminated in last week’s unprecedented raid of former President Donald Trump’s Florida home, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on Saturday called for the repeal of the Espionage Act.

Saying the act “was abused from the beginning to jail dissenters to WWI,” Paul tweeted it is “long past time” to mothball this measure that has been used repeatedly in violation of the 1st Amendment.

The impetus for Paul’s call for repealing the Espionage Act is the Justice Department using it to go after Trump. The act, which dates back to the first world war, was passed to prevent sharing information that could harm the U.S. or render aid to foreign opponents.

One part of the act that is pertinent to the present situation is Section 793. This deals with “gathering, transmitting, or losing defense information” through “gross negligence.”

The act further speaks of defense information being “illegally removed” from where it is properly stored and then “lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed.”

Rand, in tweeting that the act should be abolished, linked an article by fellow libertarian Jacob Hornberger. The former presidential candidate is the founder of the Future of Freedom Foundation.

He called the Espionage Act a “tyrannical law.”

Rand’s opponent in the November general election, Democrat Charles Booker, called his appeal to ditch the Espionage Act “shameful.” The candidate went so far as to tweet that, “when” he is elected, his loyalty to the country will never be called into question.

Of course, the act of sending the FBI to raid a former and possibly future president’s office is one that without a doubt bears investigating. Attorney General Merrick Garland said he signed off on it, and the White House this week denied any prior knowledge.

Unsealing the warrant and property receipt did little to quell the controversy over the unprecedented action. Even the Washington Post dangling the idea that nuclear documents were among the boxes — without proof of course — has not stopped critics from piling on.

Was such a public and high-profile raid necessary? Many documents had already been handed over in January and then again in June by going through attorneys and more civil means. Or was this political grandstanding to divert attention from a woefully unpopular administration?