Trump indicted on 37 charges, including violations of Espionage Act, in classified documents probe

President Donald Trump speaks on the phone in the Oval Office in a 2017 archive photo.

Indictment accuses former President Donald Trump of keeping classified and top secret documents regarding defense and weapons capabilities of both U.S. and foreign countries.

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Former President Donald Trump has been indicted on 37 charges, including 31 counts of violations of the Espionage Act, as part of special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into the mishandling of classified documents from the Trump White House

The 49-page indictment, released Friday by the Department of Justice, details that Trump stored boxes containing classified documents in various locations at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida estate, including a ballroom, a bathroom and shower, his office, his bedroom and a storage room.

According to the indictment, among the classified and top secret records were details on foreign nations’ nuclear capabilities, as well as information regarding defense and weapons capabilities of both U.S. and foreign countries, U.S. nuclear programs, potential vulnerabilities of U.S. and allies to military attack, and plans for possible retaliation in response to an attack.

Trump is charged with willful retention of national defense information; conspiracy to obstruct justice; withholding a document or record; corruptly concealing a document in a federal investigation; scheme to conceal; and false statements and representations.

In a brief televised statement, Smith urged the public to read the indictment and said he was aiming for a speedy trial.

“The men and women of the United States intelligence community and our armed forces dedicate their lives to protecting our nation and its people. 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.

The indictment details two 2022 instances in which Trump allegedly shared classified information with people without security clearances. The indictment also confirms a CNN report on the existence of a recording in which Trump indicates understanding that he cannot declassify records after leaving office and acknowledges he possesses a classified record.

The investigation began after the National Archives found classified records in a batch of documents Trump returned a year after leaving office. Justice Department officials sought a subpoena demanding that Trump return any other classified material in his possession.

The indictment cites notes from a May 23 conversation between Trump and his lawyer Evan Corcoran in which Trump questioned whether he had to fully comply with the subpoena, including making the statements, “I don’t want anybody looking through my boxes. I don’t want you looking through my boxes,” “Wouldn’t it be better if we just told them we don’t have anything here?” and, “Well look, isn’t it better if there are no documents?”

Trump’s legal team ultimately produced about three dozen additional documents and a letter stating that a diligent search had turned up nothing more. But the indictment details that Trump’s lawyers didn’t have access to all of the records for their search.

The indictment states that between May 23, 2022, and June 2, 2022 — during the window after the subpoena was issued but before Corcoran could review the documents — Trump’s personal aide Walt Nauta, at Trump’s direction, moved 64 boxes out of the Mar-a-Lago storage room to Trump’s residence so the former president could personally go through the contents and that Nauta brought back only 30 boxes to the storage room. This was hidden from Corcoran, according to the indictment.

The Justice Department learned of the move and possibility that classified documents remained at the estate and sought judicial approval of a search warrant. More than 100 documents with classified markings were found during an FBI search of Mar-a-Lago in August 2022.

Nauta was also indicted alongside Trump on charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding a document or record, corruptly concealing a document in a federal investigation, scheming to conceal and making false statements and representations.

The former president defended Nauta, a Navy veteran who was frequently by Trump’s side in the White House, in a Truth Social post before the indictment was made public.

“He has done a fantastic job! They are trying to destroy his life, like the lives of so many others, hoping that he will say bad things about ‘Trump,’” the former president said of Nauta.

The special counsel’s investigation has focused in part on Nauta, who is reportedly seen on surveillance video helping a maintenance worker move boxes from the storage room before the FBI executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago.

According to the indictment, Nauta’s false statements include that he was not aware of Trump’s boxes being brought to the residence for review before 15 boxes were sent to the National Archives, he did not know how boxes taken to the National Archives truck got to the residence, and, when asked whether he knew where Trump’s boxes had been stored before they were in his residence, Nauta falsely responded, “I wish I could tell you. I don’t know. I don’t — I honestly just don’t know.”

Trump announced in a social media post Thursday that he had been indicted in connection with his handling of the records and was ordered to appear in federal court in Miami on Tuesday afternoon. The indictment comes nearly a year after more than 100 documents with classified markings were found during the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago in August 2022.

The case appears to have been initially directed toward U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee who handled his lawsuit last year over the FBI search.

Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and claimed again late Thursday that he was innocent. On Friday he announced that he is shaking up his legal team, replacing attorneys Jim Trusty and John Rowley with New York-based Todd Blanche and a firm to be named later. Blanche is assisting with Trump’s other indictment on 34 felony charges related to an alleged hush-money payment made to porn actor Stormy Daniels in the final days of the 2016 campaign.

Trusty and Rowley said in a joint statement that they resigned, calling it “a logical moment” to leave because the case had moved to Miami.

Trump and his allies quickly framed the new indictment as an attempt to diminish a political opponent, with some such as Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) misrepresenting the legal process.

“If the people in power can jail their political opponents at will, we don’t have a republic,” Hawley, a lawyer and former state attorney general, tweeted.

Such claims disregard that it was a grand jury that recommended the charges based on evidence presented to it, and it will be a jury that decides Trump’s guilt or innocence on the charges based on the evidence provided in court.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.


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