The former president of the United States, Donald Trump, has been charged with the alleged commission of several crimes for the handling of classified documents that he illegally took to Mar-A-Lago, his mansion in Palm Beach, Florida, and retained there despite the requirements for him to deliver them. Special prosecutor Jack Smith, appointed by the Department of Justice, has decided to take the historic step after completing his investigation and the indictment has been approved by a grand jury in Miami.
Trump himself has announced it on his social network. "The corrupt Biden Administration has informed my lawyers that I have been indicted, apparently for the box hoax, even though Joe Biden has 1850 boxes at the University of Delaware, additional boxes in Chinatown, D.C., with even more boxes at the University of Pennsylvania, and documents strewn all over the floor of his garage where he parks his Corvette, and that it is "secured" only by a garage door that is thin paper, and open most of the time," he wrote on his social network.
"I have been summoned to appear in Miami Federal Court on Tuesday, at 15:00 p.m. I never thought it possible that something like this could happen to a former president of the United States," he wrote in another message. "I AM AN INNOCENT MAN!" he added. The Justice Department has not yet made public the allegations against Trump. US media have advanced that there are seven charges, including obstruction of justice.
Trump has already been indicted on 34 counts of falsehood stemming from three payments to hide scandals (one of them an extramarital affair with porn actress Stormy Daniels) in the 2016 presidential campaign. A New York judge has set the trial of the case for March 25.
This is the first time, again, that a president or former president has been the subject of federal office. In addition, they are related to the exercise of their office. In addition, his indictment comes when he is the favorite to the nomination in the Republican primaries for the 2024 presidential elections. In this way, the Department of Justice of the Biden Administration criminally prosecutes who is emerging as a possible rival of the current president in the elections of November next year.
Trump was already preparing in recent days for a possible indictment. The prosecutors had formally communicated to his lawyers that he was the target of the investigation and he himself reacted yesterday by declaring that he had done nothing wrong, that the accusations were a form of "electoral interference" to return him to the White House and that everything was a "witch hunt".
Trump has received the news at his golf club in Bedminster (New Jersey).
The indictment of the former president is a qualitative leap in a case that led to the search of his Mar-a-Lago mansion in Palm Beach (Florida). The content of the search warrant already revealed then that the former president was being investigated for possible crimes of obstruction of justice, concealment, removal or fraudulent mutilation of public documents and violations of the Espionage Act, apparently for the fraudulent retention of national security documents. These are crimes that can carry fines or jail time.
FBI agents who searched Trump's mansion found thousands of documents that the former president improperly retained there, including a hundred with classification marks with varying degrees of confidentiality. The former president had ignored the requirements to deliver them, which justified the registration.
In recent weeks, some other information about the investigation has emerged. The Washington Post revealed that two Trump employees moved boxes of papers at Mar-a-Lago just one day before the Justice Department visited the former president's residence with the request to collect classified documents, which along with other evidence that the special counsel has been collecting can shore up the accusation of obstruction of justice.
Federal prosecutors also obtained a recording of a summer 2021 meeting in which former President Donald Trump acknowledges that he kept a classified Pentagon document about a possible attack on Iran, according to a report published by CNN. The recording is incriminating evidence against Donald Trump, who has sometimes claimed that he had declassified all the documents that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) found in the search of his Mar-a-Lago mansion in Palm Beach (Florida).
One of Trump's usual tactics is to try to delay and hinder the investigation with continuous judicial resources. Thanks to one of those resources, a federal judge in Florida, Aileen M. Cannon, appointed by Trump himself shortly before his dismissal, ordered the Department of Justice and the FBI to stop their investigative work with all the documents found in the registry while a special expert reviewed them.
The objective was to see if they could affect the lawyer-client privilege (which protects professional secrecy in the relations of an investigated with his lawyers) or the executive privilege (which allows the executive branch to deny information about ongoing actions to another branch, such as the legislative or judicial), despite the fact that Trump no longer holds public office.
A court, however, overturned the judge's decision. First, last September it cautiously suspended the blocking of the investigation into the documents classified as confidential or secret that the FBI seized in early August in the Mar-a-Lago registry. Then, he ruled on the merits of the matter, with a sentence that left Judge Cannon in a very bad place: "The law is clear. We cannot issue a rule that allows any subject of a search warrant to block government investigations after the execution of the warrant. Nor can we dictate a rule that allows only former presidents to do so," he said at the end of his 21-page decision.
In addition, the court pointed out that the judge did not have jurisdiction to issue the resolution, which justified in the extraordinary that it is to practice a search in the house of a former president. "It is certainly extraordinary that a warrant is executed at the home of a former president, but not in a way that affects our legal analysis or otherwise gives license to the judiciary to interfere in an ongoing investigation," said the three judges, two of whom were also appointed by Trump himself. Creating a special exception here would challenge our nation's founding principle that our law applies to everyone, regardless of number, wealth or rank.
While the investigations into Trump continued, the Justice Department shelved the investigation into classified documents that he improperly took to his home after Mike Pence, vice president during the tycoon's term, left office. The Prosecutor's Office informed Pence of the closure of the investigation in a letter dated June 1 in which it was assured that no charges would be filed.
At the end of January, it was learned that the aides of Trump's former vice president discovered in his home in Indiana a dozen documents with classification marks as secret. Pence thus joined Trump himself and the current president, Joe Biden, who also improperly took confidential documents to their private homes. In Biden's case, as in Trump's, the Justice Department appointed an attorney general to take charge of the investigation.
In Pence's case, it was "a small number of documents with classified marks that were inadvertently boxed in and transported to the former vice president's personal home at the end of the last Administration," the politician's lawyer wrote in a letter sent to the National Archives, the institution that must guard documents and records when presidents and vice presidents leave office.
Trump, who was convicted in a civil lawsuit for sexual abuse, has other judicial fronts open.
Fulton County Prosecutor Fani Willis, who is investigating whether he illegally interfered in Georgia's 2020 election, has said she plans to announce in the coming months whether to file charges. Willis has hinted that possible indictments will come in August. · In a letter to county Superior Court Chief Judge Ural Glanville, he said he plans to have much of his staff work remotely most days during the first three weeks of August and asked that judges not schedule in-person trials and hearings for part of that time for security reasons.
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