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Trump’s second indictment: What we know

The former president promises to prove his innocence


Former President Donald Trump Associated Press/Photo by Evan Vucci, file

Trump’s second indictment: What we know

The Department of Justice is prosecuting a former president on federal charges for the first time in history. Former President Donald Trump said Thursday he has received notice of an indictment and will appear in the federal courthouse in Miami on Tuesday. It’s the second indictment he has faced this year, and two more investigations are still pending. He says the allegations against him are political and will not slow his campaign for president in 2024.

The indictment itself is sealed until a judge opens it, likely after Trump’s arraignment next week. On Thursday night, Trump Attorney Jim Trusty told CNN that it includes seven charges that “break out from an Espionage Act charge.” But Trusty and his team said they have so far received only a summons to court, not a copy of the indictment.

The unprecedented legal action results from seven months of special counsel investigation into hundreds of classified documents uncovered at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Trump says he declassified the documents and he is innocent of any misconduct.

“This is warfare from the law,” he said in a video posted to his Truth Social account. “The whole thing is a hoax. … I’m an innocent man. We will prove that again. Seven years of proving it, and here we go again.”

Special counsel Jack Smith has declined to comment publicly on his investigation. He convened two grand juries, but the second one in Miami wasn’t known publicly until this week, raising the idea that Trump would be charged in Florida instead. Court filings from earlier this year indicate investigators are looking into Trump’s handling of documents and whether he obstructed investigations.

Trump’s team originally cooperated with the FBI and the National Archives to hand over roughly 30 documents that attorney Evan Corcoran found at Mar-a-Lago in compliance with a subpoena. Corcoran said he was informed those were the only outstanding documents the National Archives needed.

But after the National Archives saw some surveillance footage of employees transporting more boxes, they asked Corcoran to look again. He found 38 more documents and surrendered them to the FBI. Then FBI agents raided the private residence and seized boxes of hundreds more documents marked top secret and highly classified in Trump’s office and a storage room. Prosecutors seized roughly 300 documents and surrendered them to the National Archives. The FBI has not commented on what specific papers were found but that many had top secret and highly sensitive classifications.

Investigators have asked for more security footage of the storage room, but Trump has not turned it over. A maintenance employee flooded the server room last October when he drained Mar-a-Lago’s pool, so it’s unclear what evidence remains.

On Thursday, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy called the indictment a “grave injustice.”

“Today is indeed a dark day for the United States of America,” he wrote on Twitter. “It is unconscionable for a President to indict the leading candidate opposing him. Joe Biden kept classified documents for decades.”

Separately, New York prosecutors filed felony charges against him in March over alleged hush money payments to former mistresses—a case in which Trump also denies wrongdoing. In Georgia, he is the subject of two investigations into whether he tried to interfere in its electoral process in 2020. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said she will determine whether to submit charges and on what counts in August.

The D.C. documents debacle

The Department of Justice has multiple pending investigations into classified documents and the executive branch. Classified papers were also found at the homes of former Vice President Mike Pence and President Joe Biden, and investigators and a special counsel remain busy analyzing national security and privacy issues.

Biden questioned

Special counsel Robert Hur is still looking into classified documents from as far back as Biden’s Senate terms, which ended in 2009. Some of the documents were uncovered in a Washington-based think tank office in November, and two more batches were found in his Wilmington, Del., house in December and January. Investigators are trying to determine whether Biden intentionally mishandled the materials, how they wound up at private locations, and who could have received classified information. They are also discerning which documents, like handwritten notes, belong to Biden versus the National Archives.

The House Oversight Committee is also probing what happened. Lawmakers interviewed former Biden aide Kathy Chung in April. Democrats on the committee released a partial transcript of the interview to counter Chairman James Comer’s claims that Chung’s testimony contradicted the White House explanations of events.

Chung was an office assistant for the then–vice president. She said she was tasked with packing up files in early 2017 just before Trump moved into the White House. She had security clearance and confirmed she knew how to identify classified material and turn it over to the proper authorities. But according to the interview transcript, she simply boxed up bunches of file folders and did not look closely into them. She then transported them from the White House to a secondary location and finally to the Penn Biden Center, an international relations think tank in Washington.

Comer has refused to release the full transcript of the interview because he says it contains sensitive information about ongoing investigations.

The White House originally said Biden’s personal attorneys found the classified files in a locked closet. The released portions of Chung’s testimony do not include information about that claim, but Republicans say the story keeps changing.

“We now know the classified documents were not kept in a locked closet at the Penn Biden Center as the Biden team has asserted and the timeline for packing up these documents starts six months earlier,” the Oversight Committee said in a statement.

The Senate Intelligence Committee is also probing for information from the Justice Department, but Attorney General Merrick Garland and director of national intelligence Avril Haines are refusing to share what they know. Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., sent a third letter to Garland and Haines last week asking for a private viewing of the documents or a briefing on any related national security risks. At a recent hearing about general worldwide threats, Garland indicated that the special counsel’s involvement limits what the intelligence community can share.

“A special counsel cannot have veto authority over Congress’ ability to do its job,” Rubio said at the hearing. “This is going to be addressed one way or the other.”

Pence cleared

The Justice Department sent a letter this week to the former vice president’s legal team informing it that the national security division had closed its investigation and would not file charges. Investigators were looking into a “small number” of documents Pence’s lawyers found at his Indiana home from his time as vice president. Pence instructed his attorneys to look throughout his home office. The day the attorneys found roughly a dozen classified documents, they informed the FBI and surrendered them to the National Archives. Pence then agreed to let FBI agents search his home, which they did for five hours. They found one more piece of classified information.

It is not clear what was in the documents. No special counsel was appointed to oversee the investigation, indicating the material did not pertain to national security issues or highly sensitive information. Investigators interviewed Pence and several aides but decided to close the probe “based on the results of our investigation.”

Pence, who announced his presidential campaign on Wednesday, said the papers were mistakenly filed with his personal documents and he takes responsibility for the error.

Editor’s note: WORLD has updated this story since its initial posting.


Carolina Lumetta

Carolina is a WORLD reporter and a graduate of the World Journalism Institute and Wheaton College. She resides in Washington, D.C.

@CarolinaLumetta


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