Former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said Thursday that Donald Trump‘s alleged possession of classified documents merits prison time.
A new indictment in the classified documents case unsealed on Thursday revealed that Trump was charged with three additional felony counts in the classified documents case, bringing a total of 40 charges against the former president in the case.
The new charges include allegations that Trump attempted to delete security camera footage at Mar-a-Lago with employee Carlos De Oliveira after the footage had been sought by federal prosecutors. The indictment on Thursday also revealed that Trump is facing an additional felony charge under the Espionage Act. The charge claims that Trump allegedly possessed a classified document regarding a possible attack on Iran. Trump was recorded talking about his possession of the document at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, in July 2021, per the indictment.
Trump has already pleaded not guilty to the initial 37 charges in the classified documents case, and he continues to deny any wrongdoing.
Coats, who worked as Trump’s Director of National Intelligence from 2017 to 2019, said that Trump’s actions merit prison time.
“There are people in prison who have taken stuff home when they knew they shouldn’t have taken it home,” Coats told CNN‘s Kaitlan Collins on Thursday night. “Maybe it was truly innocent, but it’s so critical that we abide by the rules.”
Coats said that leaked classified information can have deadly consequences. Newsweek reached out to Trump’s campaign by email for comment.
“So, it’s more than just a bunch of papers and what big deal is this and so forth. Lives can be lost. Money can be misspent,” Coats said. “Our adversaries are out there searching, trying to get this kind of information.”
The new indictment comes as Department of Justice (DOJ) Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into Trump’s alleged involvement in the January 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riots nears its end. Earlier this month, Trump expressed concerns on Truth Social that he believed he would soon be arrested in connection with that case.
Smith also is leading the classified documents investigation.
However, Trump continues to allege the DOJ is conducting a politically motivated “witch hunt” against him.
“Deranged Jack Smith knows that they have no case and is casting about for any way to salvage their illegal witch hunt and to get someone other than Donald Trump to run against Crooked Joe Biden,” Trump’s campaign team said in a statement on Thursday night.
Amid the ongoing legal woes, Trump remains the Republican frontrunner in the 2024 presidential election.
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