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Trump indicted in case of alleged mishandling of government secrets

Former President Donald Trump listens as he speaks with reporters while in flight on his plane after a campaign rally in Waco, Texas, on March 25.
Evan Vucci
/
AP
Former President Donald Trump listens as he speaks with reporters while in flight on his plane after a campaign rally in Waco, Texas, on March 25.

Updated June 8, 2023 at 9:57 PM ET

Read NPR's live blog for the latest on the Trump indictment.

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Former President Donald Trump has been indicted on federal charges for storing dozens of classified documents at his Florida resort and refusing to return them to the FBI and the National Archives.

He faces seven counts including willful retention of information related to national defense, at least one false statements charge and at least one charge related to obstruction, according to a source with knowledge of the charges. Charging documents from a federal grand jury in Miami have not been made public.

"I never thought it possible that such a thing could happen to a former President of the United States, who received far more votes than any sitting President in the History of our Country, and is currently leading, by far, all Candidates, both Democrat and Republican, in Polls of the 2024 Presidential Election. I AM AN INNOCENT MAN!" Trump said in a post on his Truth Social platform.

Trump said in a statement that he has been summoned to appear in federal court in Miami on Tuesday.

The probe has intensified in recent days and Trump's lawyers met with Justice Department officials in Washington, D.C., earlier this week to try to stave off the charges.

A spokesman for DOJ special counsel Jack Smith said they had no comment at this time. Smith, a veteran public corruption and war crimes prosecutor, is also leading the probe into key aspects of the Jan. 6, 2021, effort to overturn the results of a presidential election.

The legal peril in Florida follows the indictment on 34 counts of falsifying business records earlier this year by a grand jury in Manhattan working closely with District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Trump has pleaded not guilty in that bookkeeping case centered on hush money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in the waning weeks of the 2016 race for the White House.

Trump has denied having had an affair with Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, although he has admitted reimbursing Cohen for money paid to her.

A prosecutor in Fulton County, Ga., is leading a third investigation into Trump's alleged efforts to pressure state election officials there.

The former president has vowed to continue with his campaign to return to the White House in 2024 despite the criminal indictments. Trump reaped millions of dollars in contributions after charges against him were unveiled in New York this year. He continues to lead a small field of candidates for the Republican nomination.

The dispute over records at his resort at Mar-a-Lago in Florida exploded into public view in August 2022, when FBI agents executed a search warrant at the property while Trump was out of town. The former president tweeted about the search, which set off a weeks-long legal tug of war in Florida and Washington, D.C.

Attorney General Merrick Garland later told reporters he personally approved the search. And a federal magistrate judge signed off on the search warrant after reading a sworn statement from the FBI. "Probable cause exists to believe that evidence, contraband, fruits of crime, or other items illegally possessed" were being improperly stored in various places at Mar-a-Lago, the affidavit stated.

Authorities recovered highly classified materials — some so sensitive that the government officials involved in the search lacked the security clearance to review them. That discovery followed a letter from Trump's lawyer attesting that they had conducted a "diligent" search for government secrets at the site and had found no more of them.

This year, in yet another unusual twist, a judge in D.C. found cause to believe Trump may have used his attorney to break the law in connection with the Mar-a-Lago papers. As a result, Judge Beryl Howell turned back Trump's attorney-client privilege claims and allowed the Justice Department to proceed. That attorney, Evan Corcoran, has been spotted at the federal courthouse in recent weeks, apparently making an appearance before a grand jury behind closed doors.

Trump's own public statements could be used against him when the case makes its way to court as evidence of his state of mind.

"Remember this: This is the Presidential Records Act. I have the right to take stuff," Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity in March 2023, adding: "I have the right to take stuff. I have the right to look at stuff. But they have the right to talk, and we have the right to talk."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Carrie Johnson
Carrie Johnson is NPR's National Justice Correspondent.

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