Former President Donald Trump has been indicted on charges related to the mishandling of classified national security records. Trump stated on social media that he has been summoned to appear in federal court in Miami on Tuesday.
The federal indictment is the second time that Trump has been charged criminally this year. In April, the Manhattan district attorney charged Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business. According to CNN, Trump is facing seven criminal counts in the indictment.
The investigation into the documents has been overseen by special counsel Jack Smith, and it appears to be nearing the stage of filing charges. Recently, Smith’s team sent Trump a target letter, and Trump’s lawyers met with senior officials from the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., in an attempt to prevent criminal charges. However, their efforts were unsuccessful.
A spokesperson from the Justice Department declined to comment on Trump’s claims of an indictment, referring inquiries to Smith’s spokesperson. Trump wasted no time in using this news as a fundraising opportunity, sending out an email appeal to donors with the subject line “BREAKING: INDICTED.”
It remains unclear whether the indictment disclosed by Trump is the only set of charges he will face in connection with the investigation into classified documents. Special counsel Smith has been utilizing grand juries in Florida and Washington, D.C., so there may be additional charges. This historic moment marks the first-ever federal charges against a former president and the current frontrunner for the Republican Party’s 2024 nomination. These charges will undoubtedly trigger an intense period of pretrial litigation that coincides with the GOP nominating contest, potentially energizing Republican voters who have not been deterred by Trump’s legal entanglements.
Trump is already facing state felony charges in Manhattan related to alleged payments to a porn star, and now he faces his second set of criminal charges, with the possibility of more to come. An Atlanta-based district attorney is also preparing to make a charging decision next month regarding Trump’s alleged attempt to undermine the 2020 election. Additionally, Smith is investigating Trump’s actions to obstruct the transfer of power to Joe Biden.
Trump has been criticizing Smith and other investigators for months, portraying their probes as politically motivated conspiracies against him. In the days leading up to this indictment, he made false comparisons between his own handling of classified information and Joe Biden’s.
The investigation into the documents began when the National Archives requested Trump to return presidential papers after he left office in January 2021. After negotiations, Trump agreed to return 15 boxes of material in January 2022. However, Archives officials discovered classified documents within those records and alerted the Justice Department.
In April 2022, the Department of Justice issued a subpoena to Trump’s office for all remaining classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate. They also subpoenaed surveillance footage from Mar-a-Lago, which was remotely monitored by the Trump Organization. In June, senior DOJ officials visited Mar-a-Lago, where Trump’s lawyers handed over a sealed folder containing classified records, accompanied by a letter claiming it was all the remaining classified material.
However, it was later discovered that this claim was false. In August, the FBI executed a search warrant at Trump’s estate and found additional boxes containing highly classified material mixed with personal items and non-classified presidential records.
The raid drew public attention to the documents investigation and enraged Trump. He subsequently filed a lawsuit to reclaim his property, causing a temporary delay in the Justice Department’s investigation. In November, when Trump announced his intention to run for the presidency again, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Jack Smith as special counsel to oversee both the documents investigation and the probe into Trump’s 2020 election actions. Smith, who previously served as a war crimes prosecutor at the Hague, maintained the momentum of the ongoing investigations.
While the election probe involved high-profile witnesses like former Vice President Mike Pence, the documents investigation was expected to conclude first. Smith interviewed various individuals, including employees from Trump’s estates, advisers, and even Trump’s lawyer, Evan Corcoran.
To obtain Corcoran’s testimony, Smith engaged in a secret legal battle before U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell, who ultimately ruled in Smith’s favor. Judge Howell determined that attorney-client privilege did not apply to Corcoran’s testimony and documents because they likely contained evidence of a crime.