Former President Donald Trump has been indicted on federal charges related to his handling of classified documents.
Trump wrote on Truth Social, his social media platform, that the Justice Department informed his attorneys that he had been indicated and that he has been summoned to appear at the federal courthouse in Miami. Other media outlets quickly confirmed the indictments. There were initial reports that he will face seven counts.
The charges stem from his withholding of the government documents after he left office in 2021 and then obstructing federal efforts to retrieve them. That led to an FBI raid of Mar-a-Lago last year.
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Cable and broadcast outlets broke into regular programming to report on the indictment, the first federal criminal charges facing a former president.
Pierre Thomas, chief justice correspondent for ABC News, told David Muir, “This is perhaps one of the most consequential investigations the Justice Department has done in recent memory. We are talking about investigating a former president who is seeking to be re-elected.”
Trump was indicted in April in New York on 30 state felony charges related to hush money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels in advance of the 2016 presidential election. Trump plead not guilty to the allegations.
The federal charges, however, are viewed as potentially more serious for the ex-president, even if he has so far maintained a solid lead in GOP polls despite the legal troubles. He has maintained that the charges are politically motivated and has attacked the special prosecutor, Jack Smith, who brought the case. In his Truth Social message, he called the case the “Boxes Hoax,” apparently referring to the documents with classified markings found at Mar-a-Lago.
Trump was informed this week that he was the target of the Justice Department investigation, leading to speculation that an indictment was imminent. Federal prosecutors reportedly have gathered evidence to allege not just that Trump possessed the documents, but that he tried to conceal them after receiving a subpoena. There have been reports that Mar-a-Lago surveillance footage showing that, on the day before federal prosecutors were to arrive to retrieve the material, someone took the documents out of a storage room. Federal agents searched Mar-a-Lago in August and retrieved retrieved 11 sets of classified documents, along with other presidential materials.
Trump has been railing against the investigation, claiming that he was being treated differently from President Joe Biden. A separate special prosecutor has been investigating Biden’s handling of classified material following the discovery of documents at his Wilmington home and his post-vice presidential offices in Washington, D.C.
It is unclear what charges Trump will face, but there has been speculation that he will face counts of conspiracy and obstruction. The full picture will not be known until the indictment is unsealed.
Trump’s run for the presidency against the backdrop of criminal indictments already has created an extraordinary and unprecedented political situation, one that he has already tried to turn to his advantage with fundraising emails and further claims that the justice system was rigged. It’s also put his Republican rivals in a spot: Former Vice President Mike Pence, who has criticized Trump for his role on January 6, nevertheless said that an indictment would be divisive and that the DOJ had to meet a “very high threshold.”
Smith also is investigating Trump’s role on January 6th and the efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. A Georgia also is investigating efforts to reverse the results in that state.
More to come.
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