A 37-count criminal indictment against Donald Trump was unsealed Friday, revealing allegations that the former president willfully retained hundreds of classified government records and conspired to prevent their return to U.S. officials.
The charging document, which alleges Trump kept records containing national defense information at his Florida home after leaving the White House, was made public a day after a grand jury in U.S. District Court in Miami voted to indict him.Among other allegations, the indictment says that Trump showed classified documents to other people in the summer of 2021, after leaving office in January of that year.
Follow our live coverage of Donald Trump’s indictment in the classified documents case.One of those documents was a “plan of attack” that he told a publisher and writer at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club was prepared by the Pentagon.
“As president I could have declassified it,” Trump told them, according to an audio recording of that July 2021 comment which is quoted in the indictment.
“Now I can’t, you know, but this is still a secret,” he added.
A month or so later at Bedminster, Trump showed a representative of a political action committee “a classified map related to a military operation” and told the other man “he should not be showing it to the representative and that the representative should not get too close,” the indictment alleges.
Also charged in the indictment was Trump’s valet, Walter Nauta, who faces several of the same charges as his boss, with whom he allegedly conspired to keep classified records and hide them from a federal grand jury.
The indictment said that Trump was personally involved in packing up boxes of documents as he prepared to vacate the White House to his home at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida.
The FBI’s raid of Mar-a-Lago last August discovered hundreds of classified documents, which Trump had failed to turn over to U.S. officials after they spent a year or so trying to recover them.
The indictment says Trump as president had placed in cardboard boxes documents containing information about defense and weapons capabilities of the United States and foreign countries, U.S. nuclear programs, and “potential vulnerabilities of the United States and its allies to military attack.”
When he left the White House, Trump ordered that scores of such boxes be shipped to Mar-a-Lago, where they were stored in a ballroom, a bathroom, a shower, and office space, along with his bedroom and a storage room, the indictment says.
“On December 7, 2021, Nauta found several of Trump’s boxes fallen and their contents spilled onto the floor of the Storage Room [at Mar-a-Lago] including a document marked “SECRET//REL TO USA, FVEY,” which denoted that the information in the document was releasable only to the Five Eyes intelligence alliance consisting of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States,” the indictment says.
During the time Trump had the documents at Mar-a-Lago, his club hosted more than 150 social events, which drew tens of thousands of guests, the indictment noted.
Department of Justice special counsel Jack Smith, who led the probe of Trump, in a televised statement Friday afternoon, said, “We have one set of laws in this country, and they apply to everyone.”
“Our laws that protect national defense information are critical to the safety and security of the United States, and they must be enforced,” Smith said. “Violations of those laws put our country at risk.”
The special counsel is continuing to oversee a separate criminal investigation of Trump into his efforts to overturn his loss to President Joe Biden in the 2020 election.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump is seen in Midtown on April 03, 2023 in New York City. Trump is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow at a Manhattan courthouse following his indictment by a grand jury.
Gotham | Gc Images | Getty Images
Trump, who is seeking the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, and Nauta are due to be arraigned in Miami on Tuesday, the day before Trump’s 77th birthday.
He and Nauta each face a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charges, which are conspiracy to obstruct justice and counts related to withholding and concealing the government records.
Thirty-one of the counts accuse Trump of willful retention of national defense information.
He is also charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice; withholding a document or record; corruptly concealing a document or record; concealing a document in a federal investigation; scheme to conceal; and false statements and representations.
Trump was put under criminal investigation in spring 2022, after the FBI was notified that classified documents were found in the 15 boxes of government records he gave to the National Records and Archives Administration after months of effort by NARA to recover documents the agency believed were missing.
By law, presidents must give NARA all government records when they leave office.
The indictment says, “As he departed the White House, Trump caused scores of boxes, many of which contained classified documents, to be transported to The Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, where he maintained his residence.”
“Trump was not authorized to possess or retain those classified documents,” the indictment says.
DOJ presents photos of classified documents found at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago residence.
Trump later suggested to one of his lawyers that the attorney lie to the FBI and a grand jury by saying that he did not have the documents they were seeking, and he directed Nauto to move boxes of documents to conceal them from Trump’s own lawyer, the FBI and the grand jury, the indictment alleges.
The indictment alleges that Trump suggested to his lawyer that the attorney hide or destroy documents and that Trump gave the FBI and the grand jury only some of the documents he had kept while claiming he was fully cooperating.
Trump also caused a certification to be submitted to the FBI and grand jury falsely representing that all documents had been produced when he knew that was not true, according to the indictment.
The indictment estimates that Trump’s trial would take 21 days.
The DOJ’s indictment includes photos of classified documents found at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago residence.
Earlier Friday, two of Trump’s lawyers resigned from representing him in the classified documents case and in the criminal investigation involving the 2020 election.
Trump was indicted by a New York state grand jury in late March on charges of falsifying business records related to a $130,000 hush money payment his then-lawyer Michael Cohen gave porn star Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 election.
Trump has pleaded not guilty in that case, which is set to go to trial next March in Manhattan Supreme Court.
Read the indictment against Donald Trump:
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