Miami: On Thursday, Donald Trump announced that he had been charged with mishandling classified documents at his Florida estate. This sparked a federal investigation, which is arguably the most dangerous of several legal threats the former president is facing as he seeks to retake the White House.
The indictment was not immediately publicly confirmed by the Justice Department. However, according to two people with knowledge of the situation who were not authorised to speak publicly about it, Trump's legal team was informed of the indictment's seven counts before Trump himself made the announcement on his Truth Social platform. The indictment and Trump's instruction to appear in US District Court in Miami were confirmed by the PBS NewsHour.
Indeed, "this is a DARK DAY for the United States of America," Trump wrote on Twitter. We are a nation that is seriously and quickly declining, but by working together, we can make America great once more.
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Trump said he was scheduled to appear in court in Miami on Tuesday afternoon. Within 20 minutes of making the announcement, he started raising money for his 2024 presidential run.
Trump is now in even greater legal danger as a result of the case. He has already been charged in New York and is currently the subject of additional investigations in Atlanta and Washington, D.C. Trump's claims of broad executive authority will be contrasted with Attorney General Merrick Garland's oft-repeated maxim that no one, not even a former commander in chief, should be thought to be above the law as the prosecution proceeds.
The indictment results from a months-long investigation by special counsel Jack Smith into whether Trump broke the law by keeping hundreds of documents with the designation "classified" at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach and whether Trump took actions to thwart the government's efforts to retrieve the records.
According to prosecutors, Trump brought about 300 classified documents to Mar-a-Lago after leaving the White House, including about 100 that the FBI seized during a search of the residence in August of last year, underscoring the seriousness of the Justice Department's inquiry.
The special counsel investigation has long been viewed by Trump and his team as being much riskier than the New York case, both politically and legally. Since Trump's attorneys were informed that he was the subject of the investigation, campaign staffers had been preparing for the consequences, assuming that it was only a matter of time before charges were filed.
What the short- and long-term political repercussions for Trump will be, however, is still unknown. Trump's popularity didn't suffer from his first indictment, which sparked millions of dollars in donations from furious supporters. Whatever happens, the indictment and the subsequent legal battle will thrust Trump back into the public eye and divert attention from the other candidates who are attempting to gain ground in the 2024 presidential race.
When he left the White House, Trump insisted he had the right to keep the secret documents and claimed—without providing any supporting documentation—that he had declassified them.
The former president has long tried to use his mounting legal issues for political gain, claiming on social media and in public that Democratic prosecutors are behind the cases because they want to harm his 2024 reelection campaign. He is likely to use that strategy once more, reinstating his long-standing allegations that the Justice Department, which during his presidency looked into possible Russian collusion during his 2016 campaign, is being used against him.
The investigation into Trump, both as president and a private citizen, spanned years, but the Justice Department had never before charged him with a crime. President Joe Biden, who is running for reelection in 2024, appointed Garland.
Legal professionals, including Trump's own former attorney general, had long viewed the Mar-a-Lago investigation as one of the many state and federal investigations that Trump is facing and the one where the evidence seemed to favour the government. Federal investigators believed they had probable cause that several crimes had been committed, including the retention of information related to national defence, the destruction of government records, and the obstruction of an investigation, according to court records that were made public last year.
Since then, the Justice Department has gathered more proof and obtained grand jury testimony from Trump's associates, including his legal counsel. The laws governing the handling of classified records and obstruction are felonies, which if found guilty could result in years behind bars.
A meeting between Trump's attorneys and Justice Department representatives on June 5 was one of many indications that an indictment was imminent for weeks. Even though he maintained his innocence following that meeting, Trump stated on social media that he expected to face charges.
It was recently discovered that prosecutors were presenting evidence before a different panel in Florida, where many of the alleged acts of obstruction scrutinised by prosecutors — including attempts to move the boxes — are alleged to have occurred. The majority of the investigation had been handled in Washington, with a grand jury meeting there for months.
Trump's legal issues go beyond the New York indictment and the case involving the classified documents.
The special counsel is conducting a separate investigation into Trump and his allies' attempts to rig the results of the 2020 presidential election. Additionally, the Fulton County district attorney in Georgia is looking into Trump over alleged attempts to rig the state's 2020 election