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    How Much Prison Time Could Trump Face? Past Cases Brought Steep Punishment for Document Hoarders

    How Much Prison Time Could Trump Face? Past Cases Brought Steep Punishment for Document Hoarders

    — The investigators who searched Harold Martin's Maryland property in the fall of 2016 found classified documents — including material at the top secret level — strewn about his home, car and storage shed.

    Unlike former President Donald Trump, the former National Security Agency contractor didn't contest the allegations, ultimately pleading guilty in 2019 and admitting his actions were “wrong, illegal and highly questionable.” But his expressions of contrition and guilty plea to a single count of willful retention of national defense information didn't spare him the harsh punishment of nine years in prison.

    The resolution of that case looms as an ominous guidepost for the legal jeopardy Trump could face as he confronts 37 felony counts — 31 under the same century-old Espionage Act statute used to prosecute Martin and other defendants alleged to have illegally retained classified documents. Even many like Martin who have pleaded guilty and accepted responsibility have nonetheless been socked with yearslong prison sentences.

    “When they decide to pursue a willful mishandling case, it's to send a message: that we take these cases very seriously,” said Michael Zweiback, a defense lawyer and former Justice Department prosecutor. “They almost always are seeking jail time.”

    How much prison time the former president could face in the event of a conviction is impossible to say, with such a…

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