Federal prosecutors unsealed indictments on Friday against former President Donald J. Trump and one of his personal aides, Waltine Nauta, revealing devastating new details about a more than yearlong investigation into Mr. Trump’s handling of classified material.
The 49-page indictment gave the clearest picture yet of the files that Mr. Trump took with him when he left the White House. It said he had illegally kept documents concerning “United States nuclear programs; potential vulnerabilities of the United States and its allies to military attack; and plans for possible retaliation in response to a foreign attack.”
The indictment, for the first time, described how Mr. Trump suggested to one of his lawyers that it was possible to tell prosecutors that “we don’t have anything here” after a grand jury subpoena had been issued for all remaining classified material in his possession.
The indictment also said that Mr. Trump kept classified material in several places inside Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Florida, including a bathroom, and that he had Mr. Nauta move roughly 64 boxes from a storage room at the compound to his residence there, but that only about 30 were returned, apparently leaving the rest unaccounted for.
Prosecutors presented evidence that Mr. Trump shared a highly sensitive “plan of attack” against Iran to visitors at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J. in July 2021 — and was recorded on tape describing the material as “highly confidential” and “secret,” while it admitting it had not been declassified. In another incident in September 2021, he shared a top secret military map with a staff member at his political action committee who did not have a security clearance.
It is unusual for prosecutors to unseal an indictment before a defendant shows up in court for an initial appearance. But the decision to release the document in this case came as Mr. Trump and his allies had been aggressively attacking the investigation and, in the view of federal law enforcement officials, distorting elements of the case.
The move was in keeping with the Justice Department’s practice, under Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, of releasing information to the public through their filings in court — a tactic the department deployed to release the detailed affidavit used to justify the search of Mr. Trump’s residence in Florida last August.