Former President Donald Trump’s federal indictment is a scathing, 44-page read that opens with the assertion that he aggressively violated the national security laws that he used to initially fuel his successful 2016 campaign for the White House.
Trump faces up to 20 years in prison for allegedly putting the nation’s safety at risk by keeping hundreds of classified records, spilling secrets to boast of his immense power as a former commander-in-chief, and orchestrating a campaign to block the feds from getting them back.
The 37-count indictment against Trump marks the very first time a former American president faces charges for seven different federal crimes. Trump has been formally accused of willful retention of national defense information, engaging in a conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding a government record, concealing an official document, hiding a record from a federal investigation, scheming to conceal, and making false statements.
The indictment also details how Walt Nauta, a U.S. Navy veteran who became the former president’s trusted Diet Coke valet, played a key role in an attempted coverup. He was hit with similar criminal charges as a co-conspirator.
Department of Justice Special Counsel Jack Smith, who led the historic law enforcement operation, is set to make public statements Friday afternoon regarding the criminal indictment.
The indictment itself details a number of damning instances when Trump knowingly shared classified information and conspired to retain the classified documents—337 pages of them—even after the National Archives sought their return.
The DOJ cites a July 2021 media interview with Trump at his New Jersey club Trump National Golf Club Bedminster. None of the participants in the media interview—including Trump and one of his staffers—had an active security clearance. But Trump still shared a “plan of attack” that the Pentagon and a senior military official had prepared for him.
“TRUMP told the individuals that the plan was ‘highly confidential’ and ‘secret,’” the indictment notes. “TRUMP also said, ‘as president I could have declassified it,’ and, ‘Now I can’t, you know, but this is still a secret.’”
The indictment also alleges that, on May 23, 2022, Trump met with two of his attorneys at Mar-a-Lago and discussed how they wanted to comply with a subpoena seeking the return of classified documents.
One of Trump’s attorneys claimed that Trump said something to the effect of “I don’t want anybody looking through my boxes,” and asked what would happen “if we just don’t respond at all or don’t play ball with them.”
“Wouldn’t it be better if we just told them we don’t have anything here?” Trump said, according to the lawyer.
Contrary to Trump’s insistence that he had nothing to do with packing up his own boxes when vacating the White House in January 2021, the indictment alleges he was “personally involved in the process.”
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