Donald Trump has been indicted in Mar-a-Lago classified documents case

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Independent It has been revealed that a federal grand jury has indicted former President Donald Trump on charges stemming from alleged illegal retention of national defense information, adding another criminal case to the legal pressure against the twice-impeached former president as he seeks to want to win the party’s nomination in next year’s Republican presidential primary.

It comes just a day after Mr Trump himself first revealed his new status as a federal criminal defendant in a series of posts on his Truth social platform Independent Told that federal prosecutors planned to ask a grand jury on Thursday to return an indictment against him.

“The corrupt Biden administration has informed my lawyers that I have been indicted, seemingly over the box hoax,” he wrote, using a phrase often used to describe the long-running investigation .

The former president followed up the blistering claim with a series of allegations against his successor in the White House, President Joe Biden, stemming from discovered documents containing classified markings on multiple locations linked to the current president.

In a subsequent post, Mr Trump said he has been summoned to appear in a federal court in Miami on Tuesday, June 13 at 3.00pm ET.

“I never thought this could happen to the former President of the United States, who received far more votes than any sitting President in our nation’s history, and is currently leading all candidates, both Democrats. and Republicans, in the polls for the 2024 presidential election,” he said, adding that he is “an innocent man.”

“This is truly a dark day for the United States of America. We are a country headed for a serious and rapid decline, but together we will make America great again!” He added.

The indictment against Mr Trump is understood to include seven separate counts, and is part of a last-ditch effort by his legal team to convince Justice Department officials not to seek charges against him in an investigation into the classified documents. It comes days after, which started early last year. Officials with the National Archives and Records Administration discovered more than 100 documents with classified markings while cataloging a group of 15 boxes found at Mr Trump’s Palm Beach, Florida residence.

That discovery prompted Nara officials to inform the Justice Department, which launched an investigation into how the documents ended up at Mr Trump’s property.

During the investigation, prosecutors and investigators expressed concern that the former president had not been truthful about whether he had returned any and all classified documents in his possession to government custody, as required by the Presidential Records Act, post-Watergate. -was required under the law of the era. States that all records of a presidential administration are the property of the government and must be handed over to the president when he leaves office.

But the classified nature of the records at issue added another wrinkle to the dispute between Mr Trump and the government he led from January 2017 to January 2021.

At times, the former president has claimed that he used the broad classification and declassification authority given to the US chief executive to make public any records that he carried with him at his Palm Beach home in Mar-a-Lago. , were taken to a 1920s mansion. He bought it in the 1990s and later turned it into a private social club.

No evidence has emerged that such an order was ever issued, and in audio recordings obtained by prosecutors, Mr. Trump has acknowledged that he did not make public some of the records until long after they were in his possession. were in their possession.

Furthermore, the laws under which the former president is facing charges are not affected by any declassification order, substantive or otherwise. Instead, written laws speak of the intentional retention of information related to national defense.

They essentially say that a person has committed a crime by possessing such information and not returning it to the government upon request.

For Mr Trump, such a request came last year when he was served with a grand jury subpoena, forcing him to produce any classified documents in his possession and hand them over to the Justice Department .

In response, one of his lawyers, Evan Corcoran, claimed to have discovered documents in a storage area at Mar-a-Lago where Mr Trump’s aides said were all records taken from the White House at the end of his presidency. . stored.

That search turned up 38 classified records that Mr. Corcoran and another Trump attorney, Christina Bobb, handed over to investigators when they visited Mar-a-Lago in June 2022.

After that meeting, the FBI began developing evidence showing that Mr. Trump or his associates had taken actions to hinder their investigation, including moving records out of a storage room prior to Mr. Corcoran’s search. .

The evidence, which includes surveillance footage showing Mr. Trump’s personal aide, Walt Nauta, shaking boxes after receiving a grand jury subpoena, was used to obtain a search warrant for the former president’s Palm Beach property during which FBI agents found more than 100 classified documents, including some on Mr Trump’s office.

Mr. Nauta, a former Navy chief petty officer who served as Mr. Trump’s White House valet and followed him to Florida at the end of his presidency, was questioned by investigators about the footage, but was not available to prosecutors. He ceased communication with the Justice Department after the suggestion. Her work for Mr Trump will result in her being charged with a crime.

Prosecutors have also questioned Mar-a-Lago and Trump Organization employees about the capabilities of the surveillance system at Mr. Trump’s property, and about conversations between Mr. Nauta and Trump Organization security director Matthew Calamari Sr. He believes the footage is related.

According to multiple reports, there has been concern among investigators about alleged gaps in the footage, as well as what prosecutors believe was damage to the surveillance system by a Mar-a-Lago employee flooding a room. The attempt may have been placed on property where computer servers were.

Mr Trump has also repeatedly expressed displeasure that the government he once led would seek to reclaim documents it considers its property. He has also suggested that he should be paid to return the documents, citing a multimillion-dollar settlement the government once reached with former President Richard Nixon over his administration’s records.

Yet the disputed documents are not his own. In the case of Mr. Nixon, who resigned in disgrace in 1974 and died two decades later, the monetary settlement compensated him because the government seized all records from his administration under the first version of the Presidential Records Act, which was later enacted. He sought to destroy records from his time in office.

Prior to that 1978 law, a president’s records were considered his or her own property, although most former presidents chose to donate them to presidential libraries or other institutions.

But since that law went into effect, no president has the right to keep records from his administration for his own use.