Former President Donald Trump has been indicted on seven federal criminal charges in connection with hundreds of classified government documents he retained at his Florida home after leaving the White House.
Trump himself disclosed the indictment in a series of posts on his Truth Social social media site on Thursday evening. He also said he has been summoned to appear in court in Miami on Tuesday.NBC News soon after confirmed the indictment, which is the second time in recent months that Trump has been criminally charged. He remains under criminal investigation by the Department of Justice and a Georgia state prosecutor for his efforts to reverse his loss to President Joe Biden in the 2020 election.
Follow our live coverage of Donald Trump’s indictment in the classified documents case.
Trump’s attorney, James Trusty, in an interview with CNN, said the charges include false statements, conspiracy to obstruct and willfully retaining documents in violation of the Espionage Act. Those charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison if Trump is convicted, though the actual sentence would likely be lower because of federal sentencing guidelines.
Trump, who is seeking the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, is the only U.S. president, former or otherwise, ever to be criminally charged. A Trump political action committee immediately began fundraising off news about the latest indictment.
He was first indicted by a New York state grand jury in March on charges of falsifying business records in connection with a hush money payment to a porn star in 2016.
In a video statement Thursday, Trump called the new charges “election interference at the highest level.”
Former U.S. President Donald Trump talks on his phone between shots, as he participates in the Pro-Am tournament ahead of the LIV Golf Invitational at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, U.S. May 25, 2023.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
On Truth Social, Trump wrote, “I never thought it possible that such a thing could happen to a former President of the United States.”
“I AM AN INNOCENT MAN! This is indeed a DARK DAY for the United States of America,” he wrote.
A U.S. Secret Service official told NBC News that Secret Service brass will meet with Trump staff on Friday and begin security and logistics planning for his appearance in Miami court on Tuesday.
Trump has been the focus of a federal criminal investigation since last year over his stonewalling of requests to return government records, including classified documents, after ending his term as president. By law, such records must be returned when a president leaves office.
Last August, FBI agents raided Trump’s home at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, searching for records they believed would be there.
Agents found hundreds of documents marked classified, along with many more government records that he had been obligated to return.
A Secret Service agent and a security guard officer guard the Mar-a-Lago home of former U.S. President Donald Trump, in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. March 31, 2023.
Ricardo Arduengo | Reuters
A spokesman for special counsel Jack Smith, who has been leading the investigation for the Department of Justice, declined to comment to NBC News on Thursday.
Trump, who most recently has been living at his residence in Bedminster, New Jersey, in his social media posts wrote, “The corrupt Biden Administration has informed my attorneys that I have been Indicted, seemingly over the Boxes Hoax.”
He griped that Biden had not been charged despite the fact that a number of government documents, some of which were classified, had been found at locations where Biden lived or worked as a private citizen.
Biden is the subject of an inquiry by another special counsel for those documents. But legal analysts have said his situation is different from that of Trump because of Trump’s failure to return government records despite repeated requests that he do so by U.S. officials.
A White House spokesman declined to comment to NBC News. He referred that query to the Department of Justice, “which conducts its criminal investigations independently.”
Until this week, it was publicly known only that a grand jury in federal court in Washington, D.C., was hearing testimony and reviewing evidence related to the documents investigation of Trump, while a separate grand jury in the same courthouse investigated his attempt to overturn the 2020 election results.
But earlier this week it was revealed that another grand jury in U.S. District Court in Miami also had been collecting evidence in the documents probe. That disclosure raised the prospect that Trump would be criminally charged in Florida, not in Washington.
Trump has long maintained a home in Florida, which in recent election cycles has been won by him and by Republican candidates for governor and senator.
The state’s current governor, Ron DeSantis, is running against Trump for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination.
Trump’s lawyers met with DOJ officials, including Smith, in Washington on Monday, reportedly to argue that Trump should not be indicted.
On Wednesday, a top Trump aide, Taylor Budowich, testified to the grand jury in Miami. Later that same day, NBC News and other media outlets reported that Trump had been formally notified that he was a target of the criminal probe, a step typically taken shortly before a person is indicted.