Accused spy’s lawyers say plans to leave country were over Trump, not arrest
Lawyers for a woman who was arrested with her husband, a Navy engineer, on espionage charges said their client’s aspirations to leave the country were because of former President Trump and not to escape arrest.
Attorneys for Diana Toebbe — who has been accused of helping her husband, Jonathan Toebbe, in an scheme to funnel classified information to a foreign government — disclosed text messages between the couple in a court filing on Wednesday to illustrate that their client’s desire to leave the country was grounded in the current political climate and not her involvement in the alleged plot.
A judge in October ordered Diana Toebbe to remain in jail after deeming her a flight risk. He pointed to text messages she sent to her husband in 2019 and 2020 in which she expressed an interest in leaving the U.S.
Her lawyers, however, are now saying the text messages disclosed at the time do not paint the full picture of the conversation between the couple because all of the messages were not included.
On March 7, 2019, Diana Toebbe told her husband, “We need to get out,” according to the court filing, to which Jonathan Toebbe responded, “At least he’s doing some hard time. And it’s short enough Trump likeley won’t try to pardon him — he’s clearly already sold Mueller whatever he had.”
The text messages seem to reference former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who at the time appeared to be working with former special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, according to NBC News. Manafort was eventually convicted on eight counts of bank and tax fraud and stopped cooperating Mueller.
He was pardoned by Trump last December.
According to the court filing, the text message mentioning Trump was not initially disclosed.
Diana Toebbe then reiterated her interest in leaving the country, telling her husband, “We need to get out.”
“*sigh* where? To do what?” Jonathan Toebbe responded, according to the court filing.
“To anywhere. To do something else… to teach in international schools… to take Macron up on his offer to harbor scientific refugees,” Diana Toebbe responded.
“Biden/Warren will curb stomp Trump/Pence,” Jonathan Toebbe replied, according to the court filing.
Diana Toebbe again emphasized, “WE NEED TO GET OUT” to her husband before writing, “Hilary was going to curb stomp trump. I’m done.”
Jonathan Toebbe then brought up Manafort by name, telling his wife, “Baby, I don’t get what’s triggering this now – Manafort’s going away. The Mueller report is coming Real Soon.”
“It’s been too long. Nothing has changed. He’s still in power,” Diana Toebbe wrote.
“Nothing in government moves that fast – believe me, I speak from personal experience,” Jonathan Toebbe texted, prompting his wife to write, “Manafort got a slap on the wrist. It’s a signal that the entire system is rigged.”
The Toebbes were arrested in October and charged with violating the Atomic Energy Act. They have been accused of selling data on the design of nuclear-powered warships for nearly a year to someone who they thought was a representative of a foreign government but was in fact an undercover FBI agent.
Diana Toebbe allegedly acted as a lookout for three of the four intelligence drop-offs that her husband completed. In one instance, Jonathan Toebbe is said to have hidden an SD card in a gum wrapper, which was then placed inside a peanut butter sandwich in a plastic bag.
Jonathan Toebbe was a nuclear engineer for the Navy, where he worked on the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program. That employment is reportedly how he got access to the restricted data pertaining to naval nuclear propulsion.
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