Trump braces for possible federal charges after being warned he was the target of an investigation over documents

MIAMI (AP) — Former President Donald Trump and his aides are bracing for a possible indictment in the investigation into the classified documents as prosecutors leading the investigation were spotted Thursday at a Miami courthouse where a grand jury heard from witnesses.

Lawyers for the former president have been told he is the target of the investigation, the clearest indication yet that criminal charges may be forthcoming, according to a person familiar with the matter. In an effort to get ahead of a possible indictment, aides over the past two days have reached out to Trump allies in Congress to prepare to go on TV and offer the former president’s defenses, according to another person familiar with the case.

Both individuals requested anonymity to discuss matters related to the secret grand jury process.

Meanwhile, a grand jury in Miami heard from at least one additional witness this week – a former top Trump aide – as signs continued to mount that prosecutors were preparing a possible indictment related to the handling of hundreds of classified documents. at Trump’s home in Florida, Mar-à-Lago.

His attorneys met with Justice Department officials in Washington on Monday to argue against an indictment, walking out of the building less than two hours later without comment. Trump, meanwhile, made social media posts this week suggesting he expects to be charged and stepped up attacks on special counsel Jack Smith and his team. And a key prosecutor on the team, David Harbach, was spotted by an Associated Press reporter outside the courthouse on Thursday.

The notification to Trump’s lawyers that he is a target is particularly concerning given that such a warning often, but not always, precedes criminal charges. The Department of Justice defines a target as someone whom prosecutors have substantial evidence related to a crime.

“The signal is growing that the charges against the former president will be in Florida,” said Brandon Van Grack, a former Justice Department prosecutor and key counsel for a previous special counsel team that investigated on Russia’s ties to the 2016 Trump campaign.

Trump’s attorneys did not return calls seeking comment. A Trump spokesperson neither confirmed nor denied receiving a letter, and a Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.

On Wednesday, Taylor Budowich, who had served as Trump’s spokesman after his presidency and now leads a pro-Trump super PAC, testified before the grand jury. He confirmed his appearance on Twitter, writing, “Today, in what can only be described as a bogus and deeply disturbing effort to use government power to ‘get’ Trump, I fulfilled a legal obligation to testify before a federal grand jury, and I answered every question honestly.

Various witnesses, including Trump lawyers, aides close to the former president and Trump Organization officials, have appeared before the grand jury in Washington over the past year as part of an investigation into a Justice Department special counsel on Trump over the retention of hundreds of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago and potential obstruction of government efforts to recover the records.

But the existence of a separate grand jury in Florida adds a wrinkle to an investigation that has been largely shrouded in mystery and thought to be nearing the end. That suggests prosecutors may be moving towards criminal prosecution in Florida, where the documents were seized after Trump left the White House and where multiple alleged acts of obstruction occurred, rather than in Washington.

Although the bulk of the investigative work was done in Washington, prosecutors could simply read key testimony to the Florida grand jury or ask a summary witness to summarize all the key evidence, Van Grack said.

Trump’s lawyers met with Justice Department officials including Smith on Monday as part of an effort by the legal team to raise concerns about what they say was prosecutorial misconduct and to try to to oppose a possible indictment. After that meeting, Trump posted on his Truth Social platform in all caps, “How can the DOJ indict me who did nothing wrong,” when no other president was indicted.

He also called into a radio show, where he confirmed the meeting with his lawyers and said, “Well, I can just say this: they came in and they saw them and they said very unfair. No other president has ever been accused of something like this.

On Wednesday, he posted a new message on social media saying: “No one told me I’m being charged, and I shouldn’t be because I’ve done NOTHING wrong, but I assumed for years I have been a target of the ARMED DOJ and the FBI.

Trump’s super PAC distributed talking points denouncing Smith and portraying him as intending to target Trump. A veteran public corruption and war crimes prosecutor, Smith was selected in November to serve as special counsel. As the former head of the Justice Department’s public integrity section, he oversaw investigations of several prominent Democrats, a record that likely insulates him from attacks by Trump allies that he is a partisan prosecutor.

The investigation focused not only on possession of classified documents, including at the top-secret level, but also on Trump’s refusal to return the records when asked, and possible obstruction.

Last year, the FBI issued a subpoena for classified documents on the property, and after suspecting that Trump and his representatives had not turned over all the documents, came back with a search warrant and recovered 100 others with classification marks.

Beyond the Mar-a-Lago investigation, another investigation in Washington also led by Smith focuses on efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.


Colvin in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report. Associated Press reporters Adriana Gomez Licon and Daniel Kozin also contributed.


Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at

Learn more about Donald Trump investigations:

Leave a Comment