Donald Trump, who hopes to win a new term in 2024, has been informed by federal justice that he was personally targeted in the investigation into the White House archives. He is accused of keeping entire boxes of documents, including some classified as "defense secrets", after his departure from Washington in 2021 and refusing to return them, in violation of federal laws.
His lawyers met Monday with Justice Department officials, including special counsel Jack Smith, who is independently overseeing the investigation. Donald Trump, who is currently well ahead of the other candidates for the Republican nomination, has always defended himself from any wrongdoing and presents himself as a victim of "political persecution".
"How could the Ministry of Justice indict me when I have done nothing," he wrote Monday on the Truth Social network, at the time when his lawyers were received by officials of this ministry.
Top Secret Documents
In the United States, a 1978 law requires all American presidents to transmit all letters, emails and other working documents to the National Archives. Another law, on espionage, prohibits anyone from keeping classified documents in unauthorized and unsecured locations. By leaving the presidency to settle in the luxurious Mar-a-Lago residence, Donald Trump has nevertheless taken away entire boxes of files.
In January 2022, after several reminders, he agreed to return 15 boxes, containing more than 200 classified documents. In a letter, his lawyers had then assured that there were no others. After examination, however, the federal police found that he had not returned everything and that he still kept many in his club in Palm Beach. FBI agents went there on August 8, and seized about thirty other boxes, containing 11,000 documents, some of them very sensitive on Iran or China.
Strongly denouncing a media operation, his lawyers strongly criticized the FBI for the publication, according to them unnecessary, of a photo showing seized documents stamped with the mention "Top Secret", scattered on a carpet with floral motif. To silence the accusations of conspiracy, Attorney General Merrick Garland had assigned special prosecutor Jack Smith to oversee this investigation, as well as another into Donald Trump's role in storming the Capitol.
Falsification of accounting documents
Another special prosecutor is also investigating classified documents found earlier this year in a former office and home of Democratic President Joe Biden by his lawyers. These embarrassing finds, as well as others in former Vice President Mike Pence, have allowed Donald Trump to minimize his conduct, even if Joe Biden has always cooperated with justice, voluntarily returning the documents, in much smaller numbers.
The Republican tribune also used the discoveries in his rival to rally his supporters who, every time justice strikes him, close ranks around him. This was notably the case in April, when the New York State court indicted him for falsifying accounting documents related to the payment of $ 130,000 to the actress of X movies Stormy Daniels before the election of 2016, in exchange for his silence on an alleged affair. It was the first time in American history that a former president had been criminally prosecuted.
A Georgia state prosecutor, who has been investigating Republican pressure for months to try to change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, is expected to announce the outcome of her investigations by September.