The Independent has learned that a federal grand jury has indicted former President Donald Trump on charges stemming from his alleged unlawful storage of national defense information. That adds another criminal case to legal pressure against the twice-indicted former president as he seeks to win his party’s nomination in next year’s Republican presidential primary.
Just a day later, Mr. Trump himself revealed his new status as a federal criminal defendant for the first time in a series of posts on his platform Truth Social The Independent reported that federal prosecutors had planned to request a grand jury Thursday to return an indictment against him.
“The corrupt Biden administration has notified my attorneys that I have been charged, apparently on the Boxes scam,” he wrote, using the phrase he has often used to describe the lengthy investigation.
The ex-president followed up the bombshell allegation with a series of allegations against his successor in the White House, President Joe Biden, which emerged from the discovery documents, which featured classification marks in several places linked to the incumbent president.
In a later post, Mr. Trump said he had been subpoenaed to appear in federal court in Miami on Tuesday, June 13 at 3 p.m. ET.
“I never thought it possible that something like this could happen to a former President of the United States, who has received far more votes than any other sitting President in the history of our country and currently leads by far all candidates, both Democrat and Republican , in polls for the 2024 presidential election,” he said, adding that he was “an innocent man.”
“This is indeed a DARK DAY for the United States of America. We are a country in serious and rapid decline, but together we will make America great again!” he added.
The indictment against Mr Trump is set to include seven separate counts and comes just days after a last-ditch effort by his legal team to persuade Justice Department officials not to press charges against him as part of the investigation into classified documents that began early last year after officials at the National Archives and Records Administration discovered more than 100 documents with classification marks while inventorying a group of 15 boxes recovered from Mr. Trump’s Palm Beach, Florida residence.
That discovery prompted Nara officials to notify the Justice Department, which launched an investigation into how the documents ended up on Mr Trump’s property.
Throughout the investigation, prosecutors and investigators have raised concerns that the ex-president failed to honestly state whether he placed all classified documents in his possession in the custody of the Presidential Records Act, a post-Watergate law Government Returned states that all records of a presidential administration are the property of the government and must be turned over to Nara when a president leaves office.
But the classified nature of the records in question added another crease to the dispute between Mr Trump and the administration he led from January 2017 to January 2021.
On occasion, the ex-president has claimed that he used the US CEO’s sweeping grading and declassification powers to declassify any records he took to his Palm Beach home in Mar-a-Lago, the 1920s mansion He bought it in the 1990s and subsequently turned it into a private social club.
There is no evidence that such an order was ever issued, and in audio obtained by prosecutors, Mr Trump is said to have acknowledged that he had not released certain recordings in his possession long after his authority to possess them expired.
Furthermore, no declassification order, actual or otherwise, shall affect the statutes under which impeachment is brought against the ex-President. Instead, the laws, as they stand, speak of the willful withholding of information related to national defense.
They are essentially saying that a person has committed a criminal offense by possessing such information and failing to return it to the government when requested.
For Mr. Trump, one such request came last year when he was served with a grand jury subpoena, forcing him to produce all classified documents in his possession and turn them over to the Justice Department.
In response, one of his attorneys, Evan Corcoran, claimed to have conducted a search for documents at a storage room in Mar-a-Lago where, according to Trump’s advisers, all the documents removed from the White House at the end of his presidency were stored.
That search found 38 classified notes that Mr Corcoran and another Trump attorney, Christina Bob, gave to investigators when they visited Mar-a-Lago in June 2022.
Following that meeting, the FBI began gathering evidence that Mr. Trump or his associates had taken actions to obstruct their investigation, including removing documents from the storage room prior to the search of Mr. Corcoran.
That evidence, including surveillance footage showing Trump’s personal adviser Walt Nauta moving boxes after receiving the grand jury subpoena, was used to obtain a search warrant for the ex-president’s Palm Beach home, where FBI agents were investigating than 100 found more classified documents, including some in Mr Trump’s office.
Mr. Nauta, a former Navy chief petty officer who served as Mr. Trump’s valet at the White House and followed him to Florida at the end of his presidency, was questioned by investigators about the recordings but cut communication with the Justice Department after the Prosecutors had suggested he be charged with a crime because of his work for Mr Trump.
Prosecutors have also questioned employees of Mar-a-Lago and the Trump Organization about the capabilities of the surveillance system at Mr Trump’s estate, as well as conversations between Mr Nauta and Trump Organization Security Director Matthew Calamari Sr. that they believe may have associated with the footage.
According to multiple reports, investigators were concerned about alleged gaps in footage and what prosecutors believe was an attempt by a Mar-a-Lago employee to damage the surveillance system by flooding a room housing computer servers kept on the property.
Mr Trump has also repeatedly expressed his outrage that the government he once led would attempt to reclaim documents he considers his property. He has also suggested he should be paid to have the documents returned, citing a multi-million dollar settlement the administration once struck with former President Richard Nixon over documents from his administration.
However, the documents in question are not his own. In the case of Mr. Nixon, who fell out of favor in 1974 and died two decades later, the monetary compensation was compensation paid to him because the Government, under the first version of the Presidential Records Act enacted thereafter, stole all the records of his administration had confiscated He attempted to destroy records from his tenure.
Prior to this 1978 law, a president’s records were considered his property, although most past presidents chose to donate them to presidential libraries or other institutions.
But since the enactment of this law, no president has the right to keep records of his government for his own use.