Former President Donald Trump has been formally accused by a federal grand jury of committing seven criminal offenses related to the mishandling of over 100 classified documents discovered at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
This indictment marks the first time a former president has faced federal criminal charges, despite Trump’s previous two impeachments.
Trump’s lawyers were informed of the indictment in the special counsel’s investigation into his handling of classified documents. Two sources, one of whom mentioned Trump receiving a summons to appear in U.S. District Court, have confirmed the indictment.
Trump took to his social media platform, Truth Social, to express his belief that the Biden Administration is corrupt and that the indictment is part of a “Boxes Hoax.”
The news of Trump’s indictment has had a significant impact on the country, with both supporters and critics weighing in on the gravity of the situation.
These charges are separate from the ones he faced during his 2016 election campaign and instead pertain to his actions as he left the White House, specifically regarding the handling of highly sensitive information.
The charges, reported by The New York Times and confirmed by sources familiar with the matter, include false statements, conspiracy to obstruct, and obstruction of justice related to the retention of documents.
It is important to note that the seven charges may not directly correspond to seven counts, as multiple counts can be associated with each charge.
According to Trump’s lawyer, Jim Trusty, the summons received by Trump’s legal team includes at least one charge related to the Espionage Act, as well as obstruction-related charges and false statement charges.
NBC News has verified that one of the charges pertains to the Espionage Act. The spokesperson for the special counsel has declined to comment, and the indictment itself remains sealed, limiting the government’s ability to provide further details.
Hints about potential charges had been provided by the government earlier, as evidenced by a search warrant for Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property in August.
The warrant mentioned an investigation into three crimes related to mishandling sensitive government records, including unauthorized sharing of documents. The Justice Department had also suggested the possibility of an obstruction-related offense in court filings.
Trump Faces Seven Criminal Charges in Handling of Classified Docs
Trump and his Republican allies have chosen to shift the blame for the indictment onto President Joe Biden, despite the investigation being conducted by a separate special counsel.
The White House has refrained from commenting on the indictment, with an administration official stating that they were not given prior notice and learned about it through the media.
President Biden, when questioned about the trustworthiness of the Justice Department in light of Trump’s criticism, emphasized that he has not tried to influence the department’s decisions and remains committed to honesty.
Shortly after revealing the indictment on Truth Social, Trump sent out a fundraising email acknowledging its existence.
He portrayed the indictment as another example of a witch hunt by the Biden-appointed Special Counsel and claimed that, as President, he had the authority to declassify the documents in question.
Trump requested supporters to contribute and stand with him peacefully. In a subsequent four-minute video on Truth Social, Trump reiterated his innocence and dismissed the investigation as a hoax. He expressed his determination to fight the charges and dedicated more time to “making America great again.”
Regarding the court appearance scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, a Secret Service official confirmed that their personnel would meet with Trump’s team to discuss security and logistical arrangements.
The grand jury’s decision is the result of a months-long investigation led by Special Counsel Jack Smith, appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Smith has been overseeing the investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago and is also involved in the Justice Department’s probe into the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack and efforts to impede the peaceful transfer of power.
More than 11,000 pages of government documents, including over 100 classified documents, were eventually seized from Mar-a-Lago by the government after Trump’s team claimed to have thoroughly searched for classified materials at the location.