The indictment of Donald Trump paints a picture of a man who enjoyed being able to show off his access to some of America’s most closely guarded secrets to those in his sphere.
Among the trove the former president kept after leaving office were classified documents detailing the nuclear and military capabilities of foreign countries, and White House intelligence briefings.
As the property of the US government, Mr Trump, 76, was required to return these documents when he ceased being president.
Instead, prosecutors say, he took “scores” of boxes from the White House to Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Florida, frequented by hundreds of members.
Rather than being kept under lock and key, state secrets were stored in the club’s ballroom, a shower, Mr Trump’s bedroom, a storage room and an office space, according to the newly unsealed indictment.
Mr Trump kept details of America and other countries’ defence and weapons capabilities in cardboard boxes – readily to hand. And he was fond of regaling his guests with the details.
So when it emerged the US government was in pursuit of those highly classified documents, prosecutors claim, Mr Trump engaged in various attempts to sabotage their inquiry.
They allegedly included suggesting to his lawyers that they falsely claim to the FBI that he did not have the documents they sought.
“Wouldn’t it be better if we just told them we don’t have anything here?” he asked them at one point.
Mr Trump went further still, implying to his legal team that they hide or destroy documents the government had demanded under subpoena.
Undeterred, one of the lawyers informed the former president he would return on June 2, 2022 to search Mar-a-Lago’s storage room for classified documents to hand over to the FBI.
Seemingly determined to keep hold of classified information, Mr Trump recruited Walt Nauta to assist him in duping both his lawyers and the FBI.
Mr Nauta had served as Mr Trump’s White House valet, and became his “body man” after he left office.
The indictment states that, at Mr Trump’s direction, Mr Nauta moved “approximately 64 boxes” of documents out of the storage room before the lawyer’s search on June 2.
The former president’s legal team then signed a document certifying a “diligent search” for documents had been conducted.Prosecutors claim Mr Trump and Mr Nauta, who has also been charged, knew that was false.
The FBI appeared to have reason to believe Mr Trump had more. Its agents secured a warrant and raided Mar-a-Lago in August 2022. They found scores more boxes containing 102 more classified documents.
The indictment suggests Mr Trump had a remarkably cavalier attitude to classified information, and suggests it could have repercussions for America’s closest allies.
According to the indictment, at one point intelligence relating to the “Five Eyes” intelligence network between the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand spilled out onto the floor of the storage room.
Mr Nauta texted another Trump employee photographs of the documents, which included classified information.
The indictment also reveals Mr Trump was captured on tape showing off a “highly confidential”, “plan of attack” to a writer and some of his staff at his New Jersey golf club in 2021, boasting the information “is still a secret”.
During another meeting, Mr Trump displayed “a classified map related to a military operation” to a member of his political action committee, the main fundraising arm of his political movement.
As he did so, he admitted he “should not be showing it” to the person, prosecutors said.
With wry irony, prosecutors note how Mr Trump, while president in 2017, called the leaking of classified information “an illegal process” and that people involved “should be ashamed of themselves.”
In the words of Maggie Haberman, a seasoned Trump reporter for the New York Times: “Every aspect of the indictment shows a historic element of Trump’s personality: his showing off, his belief that everything is his, his thrusting his advisers into untenable positions, his admiration for people who evade scrutiny.”
The post Bragging, lies, and spilling Five Eyes spy details: what prosecutors say happened at Mar-a-Lago appeared first on The Telegraph.