AP (NEW)

Former President Donald Trump says he’s been indicted on charges of mishandling classified documents

Jun 8, 2023, 5:45 PM | Updated: 7:55 pm

FILE - Former President Donald Trump speaks as he announces a third run for President, at Mar-a-Lag...

FILE - Former President Donald Trump speaks as he announces a third run for President, at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., Nov. 15, 2022. Trump and his aides are bracing for a potential indictment in the classified documents investigation as prosecutors handling the probe were spotted at a Miami courthouse where a grand jury has been hearing from witnesses. Trump's lawyers have been told that he is a target of the investigation, the clearest indication yet that criminal charges could be coming soon, according to one person familiar with the matter. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)

(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)

MIAMI (AP) — Former President Donald Trump says he’s been indicted on charges of mishandling classified documents at his Florida estate, igniting a federal prosecution that is arguably the most perilous of multiple legal threats against the former president as he seeks to reclaim the White House.

The Justice Department had no immediate comment or confirmation.

Trump is currently in Bedminster, New Jersey. A person familiar with the situation who was not authorized to discuss it publicly said Trump’s lawyers were contacted by prosecutors shortly before he announced on his Truth Social platform that he had been indicted.

Within 20 minutes of his announcement, Trump had begun fundraising off it for his 2024 presidential campaign.

Trump said he is due in court Tuesday afternoon in Miami.

The case adds to deepening legal jeopardy for Trump, who has already been indicted in New York and faces additional investigations in Washington and Atlanta that also could lead to criminal charges. As the prosecution moves forward, it will pit Trump’s claims of sweeping executive power against Attorney General Merrick Garland’s oft-stated mantra that no person, including a former commander in chief, should be regarded as above the law.

The indictment arises from a monthslong investigation by special counsel Jack Smith into whether Trump broke the law by holding onto hundreds of documents marked classified at his Palm Beach property, Mar-a-Lago, and whether Trump took steps to obstruct the government’s efforts to recover the records.

Prosecutors have said that Trump took roughly 300 classified documents to Mar-a-Lago after leaving the White House, including some 100 that were seized by the FBI last August in a search of the home that underscored the gravity of the Justice Department’s investigation.

Trump and his team have long seen the special counsel investigation as far more perilous than the New York matter — both politically and legally. Campaign aides had been bracing for the fallout since Trump’s attorneys were notified that he was the target of the investigation, assuming it was not a matter of if charges would be brought, but when.

But it remains unclear what the immediate and long-term political consequences will be for Trump. His first indictment spurred millions of dollars in contributions from angry supporters and didn’t damage Trump in the polls. No matter what, the indictment — and the legal fight that follows — will throw Trump back into the spotlight, sucking attention away from the other candidates who are trying to build momentum in the 2024 presidential race.

Trump has insisted that he was entitled to keep the classified documents when he left the White House, and has also claimed without evidence that he had declassified them.

The case is a milestone for a Justice Department that had investigated Trump for years — as president and private citizen — but had never before charged him with a crime. Garland was appointed by President Joe Biden, who is seeking reelection in 2024.

The former president has long sought to use the mounting legal troubles to his political advantage, complaining on social media and at public events that the cases are being driven by Democratic prosecutors out to hurt his 2024 election campaign. He is likely to rely on that playbook again, reviving his longstanding claims that the Justice Department — which, during his presidency, investigated whether his 2016 campaign had colluded with Russia — is somehow weaponized against him.

Among the various state and federal investigations that Trump faces, legal experts — including Trump’s own former attorney general — had long seen the Mar-a-Lago probe as one of the most likely to result in indictment and the one where evidence seemed to favor the government. Court records unsealed last year showed federal investigators believed they had probable cause that multiple crimes had been committed, including the retention of national defense information, destruction of government records and obstruction of an investigation.

Since then, the Justice Department has amassed additional evidence and secured grand jury testimony from people close to Trump, including his own lawyers. The statutes governing the handling of classified records and obstruction are felonies that could carry years in prison in the event of a conviction.

Signs had mounted for weeks that an indictment was near, including a June 5 meeting between Trump’s lawyers and Justice Department officials. After that meeting, Trump said on social media that he anticipated he could be charged, even as he insisted that he had done nothing wrong.

Though the bulk of the investigative work had been handled in Washington, with a grand jury meeting there for months, it recently emerged that prosecutors were presenting evidence before a separate panel in Florida, where many of the alleged acts of obstruction scrutinized by prosecutors — including efforts to move the boxes — took place.

Trump’s legal troubles extend beyond the New York indictment and classified documents case.

The special counsel has a separate probe underway focused on efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. And the district attorney in Georgia’s Fulton County is investigating Trump over alleged efforts to subvert the 2020 election in that state.

The classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, along with thousands of other unclassified government records, were taken from the White House to the Florida club after Trump left office in January 2021.

The Justice Department has said Trump and his lawyers repeatedly resisted efforts by the National Archives and Records Administration to get the documents back. After months of back-and-forth, Trump representatives returned 15 boxes of records in January 2022, including about 184 documents that officials said had classified markings on them.

FBI and Justice Department investigators issued a subpoena in May 2022 for classified documents that remained in Trump’s possession. But after a Trump lawyer provided three dozen records and asserted that a diligent search of the property had been done, officials came to suspect even more documents remained. They obtained surveillance footage boxes of records being moved from a storage room at Mar-a-Lago.

The investigation had simmered for months before bursting into front-page news in remarkable fashion last August. That’s when FBI agents served a search warrant on Mar-a-Lago and removed 33 boxes containing classified records, including top-secret documents stashed in a storage room and desk drawer and commingled with personal belongings. Some records were so sensitive that investigators needed upgraded security clearances to review them, the Justice Department has said.

The investigation into Trump had appeared complicated — politically, if not legally — by the discovery of documents with classified markings in the Delaware home and former Washington office of President Joe Biden, as well as in the Indiana home of former Vice President Mike Pence. The Justice Department recently informed Pence that he would not face charges, while a second special counsel continues to investigate Biden’s handling of classified documents.

But compared with Trump, there are key differences in the facts and legal issues surrounding Biden’s and Pence’s handling of documents, including that representatives for both men say the documents were returned as soon as they were found.

In contrast, investigators quickly zeroed on whether Trump, who for four years as president expressed disdain for the FBI and Justice Department, had sought to obstruct the inquiry by refusing to turn over all the requested documents. The focus on obstruction was reminiscent of the special counsel investigation Trump faced as president, when prosecutors examined whether Trump illegally tried to thwart the Russia probe, including by firing his FBI director.

 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

AP (New)

A demonstrator waves Iranian and Palestinian flags during an anti-Israeli gathering at the Felestin...

Associated Press

The Latest | Israel says 99% of drones and missiles launched by Iran were intercepted

Israel is hailing the success of its defenses after an attack by Iran involving hundreds of drones, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles.

3 months ago

Former President Trump shown,, trump hush money trial started Monday...

Associated Press

Trump says Arizona’s abortion ban goes too far while defending the overturning of Roe v. Wade

Former President Trump said Arizona's abortion ban goes too far, but defended the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

3 months ago

Beverly Smith picks produce while grocery shopping at Ream's....

Associated Press

What stores are open on Easter Sunday 2024? See Walmart, Target, Costco hours

Need to make a last-minute trip to the store for more Easter eggs and candy? Make sure you know what stores are open and closed on Easter.

4 months ago

FILE - Joana Vicente attends the 2024 Sundance Film Festival's Opening Night Gala on Jan. 18, 2024,...

Lindsey Bahr AP Film Writer

Joana Vicente steps down as Sundance Institute CEO

Joana Vicente has been announced to be stepping down as the CEO of the Sundance Institute after taking the position two and a half years ago.

4 months ago

The price of chocolate is rising just in time for Easter due to crop damages in West Africa. (Stock...

Damian J. Troise

Rich cocoa prices hitting shoppers with bitter chocolate costs as Easter approaches

Cocoa prices are rising because the chocolate's plant crops have been damaged due to high heat temperatures in West Africa.

4 months ago

St. Patrick's Day is today! To celebrate, learn a little bit about the history, why American's cele...

Deepti Hajela

From 4-leaf clovers to some unexpected history, all you need to know about St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick's day is today. To celebrate, read a little about the holiday's history, why American's celebrate it, and who St. Patrick was.

4 months ago

Sponsored Articles

A young woman smiles while reading the menu at a lakeside restaurant, enjoying the panoramic view o...

Bear Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau

The best restaurants to try in Bear Lake

Save this guide to the best restaurants in Bear Lake when you need to find a place to dine during your next visit.

Female leg stepping on weigh scales. Healthy lifestyle, food and sport concept....

Health Utah

Sustainable weight loss: the science-backed way to achieve it

Learn more about Debbie's weight loss journey with Health Utah, who have a unique weight loss philosophy for success.

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...

Comcast

Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

Former President Donald Trump says he’s been indicted on charges of mishandling classified documents