By Editor-June 10th, 2023.
Former President of the United States Donald J. Trump has been charged with removing hundreds of classified documents, some of which include US nuclear secrets and military plans.
The 37-count indictment accuses him of keeping the files at his Florida estate, including in a ballroom and in a shower, lying to investigators, and trying to obstruct the investigation into the handling of the documents.
Trump, who is running for president again in 2024, denies any wrongdoing. Prosecutors have “INDICTED me in yet another witch hunt regarding documents that I had the RIGHT to declassify as President of the United States,” Trump told potential donors.
Also named in the indictment is Walt Nauta, a former presidential aide to Trump who remained in his employ after Trump left office. Nauta faces six charges.
Special Counsel Jack Smith, who is overseeing the investigation, said on Friday that laws protecting national defence information were critical and must be enforced.
“We have one set of laws in this country, and they apply to everyone,” he said in a brief statement in Washington.
In a social media post, Mr Trump blasted Mr Smith as a “deranged lunatic”.
“He is a Trump hater – a deranged ‘psycho’ that shouldn’t be involved in any case having to do with ‘Justice,'” he wrote on his Truth Social platform.
Mr Trump pointed out that classified files were also found in President Joe Biden’s former office and Delaware home, including in his garage.
The White House has previously said it immediately co-operated with officials as soon as those files were discovered, contrasting with Mr Trump’s alleged efforts to obstruct investigators.
Prosecutors say that when Mr Trump left office, he took about 300 classified files to Mar-a-Lago – his oceanfront home in Palm Beach, which is also an expansive private members’ club.
The charge sheet notes that Mar-a-Lago hosted events for tens of thousands of members and guests, including in a ballroom where documents were found.
Prosecutors say Mr Trump tried to obstruct the FBI inquiry into the missing documents by suggesting that his lawyer “hide or destroy” them, or tell investigators he did not have them.
“Wouldn’t it be better if we just told them we don’t have anything here?” Mr Trump said to one of his attorneys, according to the indictment.
Mr Trump’s first court appearance in the case will be in Miami, Florida, on Tuesday – the day before his 77th birthday.