Former President Donald Trump indicted on 7 counts in secret documents investigation
Donald Trump, the previous president of the United States, has been formally accused of seven charges in a probe involving classified documents. This development is unprecedented, as it is the first time a former president has faced federal charges.
The charges against Trump include violations of the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice, tampering with records, conspiracy, and making false statements. The investigation focuses on how Trump handled classified documents that were taken to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida after leaving the White House in 2021. The probe also examines possible obstruction of the investigation and government efforts to recover the documents.
Trump announced on his social media platform, Truth Social, that he received notice from the Justice Department regarding the indictment. He stated that he was ordered to appear at the Federal Courthouse in Miami on Tuesday at 3 PM. Trump referred to the charges as part of a “Boxes Hoax” orchestrated by the “corrupt Biden Administration.”
According to Trump’s attorney, Jim Trusty, the charges were sent to Trump’s legal team via email, but they have not yet seen the actual indictment. Trusty described the Espionage Act charge as absurd.
Law enforcement officials reported that the Secret Service and US Marshals were caught off guard by Trump’s announcement on social media, indicating that the special counsel had kept the indictment closely guarded.
Preparations are now underway for the upcoming court appearance in Miami, with the Justice Department deploying additional resources. Both the special counsel and the Justice Department have refrained from making public statements, and a spokesperson declined to comment.
This federal indictment marks the second time Trump has faced criminal charges this year. In April, he was charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records by the Manhattan district attorney.
However, the charges from the special counsel present a new and more serious legal phase for the former president. Despite facing criminal charges in two jurisdictions and being subject to ongoing investigations, Trump is currently running for president again in 2024. The indictment arrives just seven months after the appointment of special counsel Jack Smith, who was tasked with maintaining an independent investigation separate from the Biden Justice Department following Trump’s presidential campaign announcement.
The White House has chosen not to provide a comment on this matter.
“I am Innocent”
“I am innocent,” says Trump as he criticizes investigations
Former President Trump has strongly criticized the special counsel investigation and other probes into his actions, claiming they are attempts to hinder him politically. He firmly believes that any criminal charges will not deter his 2024 campaign.
In a video released on Thursday, Trump repeated his previous assertions, accusing the Justice Department of being weaponized and labeling the investigations as “election interference.”
“I am an innocent man. I did nothing wrong,” Trump asserted in the video.
Sources have revealed that the video response was recorded before the Justice Department officially notified Trump of the indictment. Trump has a history of evading legal consequences in his personal, professional, and political life. He has settled numerous private civil lawsuits and resolved disputes involving the Trump Organization through financial means. During his presidency, he faced two impeachments by the Democratic-led House but managed to avoid conviction by the Senate.
However, since leaving office, Trump has faced criminal investigations by the Justice Department regarding the handling of classified information at his Mar-a-Lago resort and his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. These investigations have cast a shadow over Trump’s reputation. The special counsel’s investigation into the events of January 6th and attempts to overturn the election is still ongoing.
Furthermore, the Manhattan district attorney’s indictment in April and an investigation by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis into attempts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia are additional legal challenges Trump may face. It is anticipated that Willis will announce any charges in August.
Trump’s allies rush to support him
Trump’s allies in Congress swiftly came to his defense on social media, just as they did when he was indicted in New York in April.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy expressed his dismay on Twitter, calling it a “dark day for the United States of America.”
“It is unacceptable for a President to indict the main candidate opposing him. Joe Biden kept classified documents for decades,” stated Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California.
House GOP conference chairwoman Elise Stefanik, a Republican from New York, issued a statement saying, “The radical Far Left will stop at nothing to interfere with the 2024 election in order to prop up the catastrophic presidency and desperate campaign of Joe Biden.” House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican, tweeted, “Sad day for America. God Bless President Trump.”
A person who spoke with Trump on Thursday informed CNN that his aides and advisors feel empowered by the indictment and are “prepared to fight back.”
However, while Trump and some of his close associates may feel emboldened, others who are familiar with the former president have expressed concerns and reservations regarding the indictment.
Despite the potential boost in polls and fundraising for Trump, which could aid him in the Republican primary, several top advisors understand the risks associated with a federal indictment and believe it will have long-term negative effects on Trump.
Trump’s federal indictment will once again make the 2024 GOP primary revolve around the former president, even as other candidates enter the race. Prior to the indictment on Thursday, several of Trump’s Republican rivals, including his former Vice President Mike Pence, stated that the Department of Justice should not charge the former president during a CNN town hall on Wednesday.
However, at least one Republican running against Trump sees the indictment as a reason for him to withdraw from the race.
“While Donald Trump is presumed innocent, the ongoing criminal proceedings will be a major distraction. This underscores the need for Donald Trump to respect the office and end his campaign,” said GOP presidential candidate Asa Hutchinson.
Several Democrats who investigated Trump during his presidency viewed Thursday’s indictment as proof that nobody is exempt from the rule of law.
“Trump’s apparent indictment on multiple charges related to his possession 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 has been,” wrote Representative Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California who led the House’s first impeachment of Trump in 2019.
Classified documents discovered at Mar-a-Lago
In August, the Justice Department’s investigation into Trump’s handling of documents from his time as president became public when FBI agents conducted a search at Mar-a-Lago and seized thousands of documents, including approximately 100 classified ones. The FBI also requested surveillance video from the resort through a subpoena issued to the Trump Organization.
Court documents revealed that prosecutors were investigating potential criminal mishandling of national security information and obstruction of justice. The Department of Justice had previously alleged that the classified documents were likely hidden and removed from a storage room at Mar-a-Lago in an attempt to obstruct the FBI’s investigation into Trump’s handling of classified materials.
After Trump returned 15 boxes of materials to the National Archives in January, the Justice Department subpoenaed Trump in May, specifically seeking documents with classification markings that were still present at Mar-a-Lago.
Trump reportedly instructed his staff to search for any remaining classified material to comply with the subpoena, according to a lawsuit he later filed. After federal investigators retrieved documents from the resort in June, Trump’s lawyers informed investigators that they had searched the storage area and accounted for all classified documents.
However, prosecutors argued in August that some documents were likely removed from the storage room before Trump’s lawyers examined it while attempting to comply with the subpoena.
In recent months, prosecutors have interviewed numerous witnesses, including Trump’s aides, Mar-a-Lago employees, and Trump Organization staff. Most of these witnesses appeared before a grand jury in Washington, D.C., while others testified before a grand jury in southern Florida in recent weeks.
Prosecutors also obtained an audio recording of Trump discussing a classified Pentagon document during a meeting in Bedminster, New Jersey, in 2021. This recording, initially reported by CNN, showed that Trump acknowledged the document’s classified status, contradicting his argument that everything he brought to Mar-a-Lago had been declassified.