Trump indicted on 7 counts in federal probe into classified documents

Former President Donald Trump was indicted on seven counts in special prosecutor Jack Smith’s investigation into the handling of classified documents. This is the first time a former president has faced federal charges.

Trump faces a charge under the Espionage Act, his lawyer Jim Trusty told CNN Thursday, as well as charges of obstruction of justice, destruction or falsification of records, conspiracy and false statements.

Earlier, sources familiar with the matter confirmed the indictment to CNN.

Special prosecutor Jack Smith has been investigating Trump’s handling of classified documents that were taken to his Mar-a-Lago, Florida, resort after the former president left the White House in 2021, as well as possible obstruction of the investigation and the government’s efforts to recover the material.

For his part, the former president published this Thursday on Truth Social that his lawyers had informed him about the accusation. He later said on the same platform that he was summoned to appear in federal court in Miami on Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. local time.

“The corrupt Biden administration has informed my lawyers that I have been indicted, apparently for the box hoax,” Trump wrote in reference to the classified documents. Then, in a video, he maintained, “I am an innocent man. I did nothing wrong.” The four-minute video repeats many of his previous claims, including that the Justice Department is being used as a political weapon and that the investigations are “election interference.”

Trusty told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins that Trump’s lawyers received an email subpoena from the Justice Department Thursday with a list of charges, but have not yet seen the indictment.

He called the Espionage Act charge “ridiculous.”

Special prosecutor Smith declined to comment on the indictment. The Justice Department has also made no announcement. However, a law enforcement source indicated that the agency will move additional resources to Miami ahead of Trump’s court appearance, scheduled for next week.

This is the second time Trump has faced criminal charges this year. In April, the Manhattan district attorney charged Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records.

However, the special prosecutor’s federal indictment marks a new and more dangerous legal stage for the former president, who is seeking to make it back to the White House in 2025 while facing criminal charges in two jurisdictions, and with two additional investigations still underway into his conduct.

The charges against Trump come just seven months after Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Jack Smith as special prosecutor after Trump announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination in order to keep the investigation independent of Biden’s Justice Department.

The White House declined to comment on the matter.

The steps leading up to Trump’s federal indictment.

This Wednesday, the Justice Department informed Trump’s legal team that the former president was one of the targets in the investigation, several sources previously told CNN.

The decision by prosecutors to inform Trump that he was a target crystallized the fact that the investigation – led by special prosecutor Smith – has focused on the former president’s actions and not just the behaviors of those around him.

Trump’s legal team had met Monday with Justice Department officials, including special prosecutor Smith, to discuss the investigation. The meeting focused on allegations by Trump’s lawyers against prosecutors in the case for alleged misconduct. According to the source, Smith said nothing beyond greeting those in the room for the meeting.

Justice Department regulations allow prosecutors to notify the subjects of an investigation that they have become targets of the investigation. Often, such notification represents a strong signal that the next step will be an indictment, as was the case here.

Trump allies join ranks to defend him

Trump’s allies in Congress quickly rallied to his defense, and they did so on social media. An action very similar to the one they took when the former president was indicted in New York in April.

“Sad day for America. God bless President Trump,” tweeted House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.

“The radical far left will stop at nothing to interfere in the 2024 election to prop up Joe Biden’s catastrophic presidency and desperate campaign,” House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., said in a statement.

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, tweeted, “If people in power can jail their political opponents at will, we won’t have a republic.”

However, several Democrats who investigated Trump during his presidency said Thursday’s indictment showed that no one is above the rule of law.

“Trump’s apparent indictment on multiple charges stemming from his withholding of classified materials is another affirmation of the rule of law. For four years he acted as if he was above the law. But he should be treated like any other lawbreaker. And today he was,” wrote Rep. Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who led the first impeachment trial of Trump in the House of Representatives in 2019.

Investigations facing Trump

Trump has criticized the special prosecutor’s investigation and the others against him on the grounds that they are all efforts to affect him politically. The former president has insisted that no criminal charges will stop his 2024 campaign.

Trump has long evaded legal accountability in his personal, professional and political life. He has settled a number of private civil lawsuits over the years and escaped disputes related to the Trump Organization. As president, he faced two impeachment trials in the Democrat-led House of Representatives, but avoided conviction by the Senate.

However, after leaving office, criminal investigations by the Justice Department into the withholding of classified information at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, as well as his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, cast dark clouds over the former president. Smith’s Jan. 6 investigation and efforts to overturn the election are still ongoing.

And in addition to the Manhattan DA’s April indictment, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is expected to announce in August whether there are charges in her investigation into attempts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia.

The classified documents they found at Mar-a-Lago.

The Justice Department’s investigation into Trump’s handling of documents while he was president came to public light last August, when FBI agents executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago and seized thousands of documents, including about 100 marked classified. The FBI also subpoenaed the Trump Organization in search of surveillance videos from the resort.

Prosecutors indicated in court documents that they were probing possible criminal mishandling of national security information and obstruction of justice. The Justice Department previously noted that classified documents were “likely concealed and removed” from a storage room at Mar-a-Lago as part of an effort to “obstruct” the FBI’s investigation into Trump’s possible mishandling of classified material.

After Trump returned 15 boxes of materials to the National Archives in January, the Justice Department subpoenaed the former president in May, seeking documents with classification markings that were still at Mar-a-Lago.

A lawsuit Trump subsequently filed states that the former president ordered his employees to search for any remaining classified materials to comply with a subpoena. After federal investigators retrieved documents from Mar-a-Lago in June, Trump’s lawyers informed investigators that they had searched the storage area and that all classified documents had been found.

However, prosecutors claimed in August that some documents were likely removed from a facility before Trump’s lawyers examined the area while trying to comply with the subpoena.

In recent months, prosecutors have heard from dozens of witnesses, including Trump aides and employees of Mar-a-Lago and the Trump Organization. Most of the witnesses have testified before an investigative jury in Washington, D.C., and in recent weeks, several witnesses have also appeared before an investigative jury in South Florida.

Prosecutors obtained an audiotape in which Trump discusses a classified Pentagon document during a meeting in Bedminster, N.J., in 2021. In the recording, first reported by CNN, Trump acknowledges that the document remains classified, undermining his argument that everything he took with him to Mar-a-Lago had been declassified.


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