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POLS 105G: American Constitutional Law: Classified Documents

This guide will help you find information about the United States Constitution and its amendments, including primary sources.

Former President Indicted for Mishandling Classified Documents

Former president Donald Trump has been indicted for mishandling classified government information and other related offenses. Click here to read the complete list of federal charges being brought in the case: U.S. v. Donald J. Trump and Waltine Nauta.

The crimes alleged in this case are violations of Title 18 of the U.S. Code.

National Archives & Records Administration

The National Archives & Records Administration (NARA) collects and preserves documents and other information produced by the U.S. government. Regulations that govern NARA's operations include rules for deciding what materials should be preserved, how long "top secret" documents must remain classified, and how to store historically significant information safely for future generations. 

Federal Laws on Handling Classified Government Information

On August 8, 2022, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) searched former president Donald Trump's residence in Florida and removed boxes of government documents, many of which were classified "top secret." The search warrant permitting this action mentioned possible violations of the following federal laws:

  • 18 U.S.C. 793
  • 18 U.S.C. 1519
  • 18 U.S.C. 2071.

What does this mean?

These citations are referring to parts of the United States Code, which contains the federal statutes (laws) governing the United States. Title 18 is the portion of the U.S. Code that covers "Crimes and Criminal Procedure." These three sections of Title 18 explain the laws that are intended to prevent improper handling of government information, including the sharing of national security secrets with enemies of the United States. To read the text of these sections on the official U.S. Code website, click the links below.

18 U.S.C. 793 -- Gathering, transmitting, or losing defense information

18 U.S.C. 1519 -- Destruction, alteration, or falsification of records in federal investigations and bankruptcy

18 U.S.C. 2071 -- Concealment, removal, or mutilation


The Congressional Research Service (CRS) prepared this overview of the Mar-a-Lago search warrant, which explains the legal history behind these sections of Title 18 of the U.S. Code. To search for CRS reports on other topics, visit their website.