Trump charged with 7 counts in classified documents probe

WASHINGTON — A federal grand jury has indicted Donald Trump on seven criminal charges related to his mishandling of more than 100 classified documents that were discovered at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida last year, making the former Twice deposed commander-in-chief the first former president to face federal criminal charges.

Trump said late Thursday that his lawyers had been told he had been charged as part of the special counsel’s investigation into his handling of classified documents. Two sources familiar with the matter confirmed the indictment, with one adding that Trump received a subpoena in US District Court on Tuesday.

In a post on his social media platform, Truth Social, Trump said, “The corrupt Biden administration has notified my attorneys that I have been charged, apparently for the box hoax.”

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The charges mark the second time Trump has been indicted since leaving office, but the news has still reverberated across the country, with supporters and critics weighing in on the extent of the development. While the first set of charges related to Trump’s conduct when he was seeking election in 2016, the new charges relate to his actions as he left the White House and focus on how he handled some of the the country’s most sensitive secrets.

Two sources briefed on the seven counts said the charges included false statements and conspiracy to obstruct. All charges relate to withholding of documents and obstruction of justice. A source noted that seven counts does not necessarily mean seven counts – multiple counts can be associated with each charge.

The nature of the charges was first reported by The New York Times.

Trump’s attorney, Jim Trusty, told CNN that a subpoena his legal team received from the federal government included at least one charge related to the Espionage Act, “several obstruction-type charges, then false statements”. When asked if there was also a conspiracy charge, he replied, “I think so.” NBC News has confirmed that one of the charges relates to the Espionage Act.

A spokesperson for the special counsel declined to comment.

A separate source said the indictment was sealed, so the government cannot comment yet.

The government had provided clues to possible charges. A search warrant for Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property in August said investigators were looking for evidence of three crimes involving the mishandling of sensitive government documents, including whether the documents were shared with “unknown” people. allowed”. Attorneys for the Department of Justice had since raised the possibility of a crime related to the obstruction of court records.

Trump and his Republican allies focused their response on trying to blame President Joe Biden for the indictment, even though the investigation had been assigned to a separate special counsel.

The White House declined to comment on the indictment. An administration official said the White House was not made aware of the indictment and was told about it by the media.

Asked on Thursday why the American public should trust the Justice Department in the face of criticism from Trump, Biden insisted he hadn’t put his thumb in the balance.

“I have never, not once, suggested to the Justice Department what it should or shouldn’t do… charge or not charge. I’m being honest,” Biden said.

Fundraising Email and 1-Month Survey

Trump appeared prepared when he first made the existence of the indictment public.

Minutes after announcing he had been charged on Truth Social, he sent out a fundraising appeal citing the charges.

“The Biden-appointed special counsel has UNKNOWN me in yet another witch-hunt over documents I had the RIGHT to declassify as President of the United States,” the fundraising email said, asking supporters to “help stand peacefully” with him. .

He then posted a four-minute video on Truth Social in which he said he was “an innocent man” and called the investigation a “hoax”.

“I am an innocent person,” he said. “I didn’t do anything wrong. And we’ll fight like we’ve been fighting for seven years. It would be wonderful if we could dedicate all of our time to making America great again.

A Secret Service official said his staff would meet with Trump’s team on Friday to begin planning for security and logistics related to his court appearance on Tuesday afternoon.

The grand jury’s decision is the culmination of a month-long Justice Department investigation, now led by special counsel Jack Smith, who was appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Smith, who was appointed in November after Trump announced his race for the Republican nomination in 2024, resumed existing investigations into Trump’s handling of classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago, as well as “aspects keys” to the Justice Department’s investigation into the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol and attempts to obstruct the peaceful transfer of power.

Republicans defend Trump

Some of Trump’s fellow Republican presidential candidates and congressional allies have called the charges politically motivated.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis tweeted that “the militarization of federal law enforcement poses a deadly threat to a free society,” while another of Trump’s presidential rivals, Vivek Ramaswamy, said in a statement. that “I never thought we would see the day when the US President tasks the DOJ with arresting his chief rival in the middle of an election.” He reiterated his vow to forgive Trump if elected president.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., called the indictment a “gross injustice.” “It is inadmissible for a president to indict the main candidate who opposes him”, he said on Twitter.

Newly announced presidential candidate Chris Christie, a Trump critic and former federal prosecutor, said he would wait to see the indictment before commenting. “Let’s see what the facts are when a possible indictment comes out,” Christie tweeted.

Trump faces several other investigations. He was separately charged in early April by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg with 34 counts of falsifying business records related to his alleged role in silent payments near the end of his 2016 presidential campaign. pleaded not guilty. He also faces a criminal investigation in Georgia related to the 2020 election, as well as Smith’s investigation related to Jan. 6.

Image: Former President Donald Trump raises a fist in his supporters following a rally campaigning for the GOP presidential nomination, in Manchester, NH on April 27, 2023. (Sophie Park/The New York Times) (Sophie Park/The New York Times/Redux Pictures)

Image: Former President Donald Trump raises a fist in his supporters following a rally campaigning for the GOP presidential nomination, in Manchester, NH on April 27, 2023. (Sophie Park/The New York Times) (Sophie Park/The New York Times/Redux Pictures)

After Trump left office in January 2021, the federal government made several attempts to obtain files Trump had kept since his time in the White House, and it gave him and his legal team several occasions to hand them over.

The government eventually seized more than 11,000 pages of government documents from Mar-a-Lago, including more than 100 classified documents, after Trump’s team attested that they conducted a thorough search of the classified documents on site.

Trump has denied doing anything wrong, dismissing allegations that he mishandled classified documents by saying he had already declassified them.

He also likened his situation to that of Biden, who also turned out to be in possession of classified Obama administration documents. But the circumstances are very different.

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