The indictment makes it clear how Donald Trump spoke to other people about the information, some of which was top secret.
It is the first time that a former U.S. president has been indicted at the federal level. We are talking about Donald Trump, who will have to answer again in court. In the affair of secret documents, the former U.S. President has been indicted on 37 counts. There are 31 counts of illegal storage of classified information for national defense, which could land Trump in jail, according to the indictment released on June 9. Back in April, Trump was indicted in connection with hush money payments to a star in New York.
Investigations against Donald Trump - indictment published
A total of seven categories of misdemeanors are listed in the indictment. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had searched his private estate Mar-a-Lago in Florida in August 2022 and seized various classified information, some with the highest level of secrecy. After the change of power, Donald Trump had no authority to possess or store secret government documents, according to the indictment. His Mar-a-Lago estate was not an approved place to store the documents.
Donald Trump, former president of the United States, is charged with more than 35 crimes. © Brian Cahn/dpa
Trump kept the boxes of classified information in his bedroom, a bathroom, a shower, a ballroom and a storage room, among other things. Some boxes of intelligence documents were temporarily stored in a room where public events were held. A storage room for documents in more than 80 boxes was easily accessible via a public pool area in Mar-a-Lago. Trump's residence is not a cordoned-off private home, but a club with rooms for paying guests and many events such as weddings.
Secret documents on Trump's private estates: military information
Trump is accused, among other things, of intentionally retaining national defense information. This point falls under the US Espionage Act and can be punished with up to ten years in prison alone. According to the indictment, the documents found at Trump's home included defense capabilities of the United States and other states, including nuclear weapons, as well as military vulnerabilities in the defense of the United States and its partners. But also about potential military options from unnamed states. Other documents dealt with foreign support for terrorist attacks on the United States and "the timing and details of the attack in a foreign country."
An excerpt from the indictment against former President Trump. © Jon Elswick/dpa
Secret documents at Trump - tape incriminates former president
The indictment also details how Donald Trump spoke to other people about the information, some of which was top secret, or showed it to third parties. An audio recording, for example, documents a meeting between Trump and a writer for an interview. Trump said he had found a "highly confidential" document about the US military's plan to attack a country whose name was omitted from the text.
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According to the transcript of the recording, Trump said a short time later: "This is classified information. Look, look at this." None of those present had a right to read the top-secret paper. According to CNN, the recording is said to be an attack on Iran. "As president, I could have released the secrecy, but now I can't," the tape reads, as described by CNN.
Trump in the conspiracy: "Isn't it better if there are no documents?"
Trump actively tried to obstruct the investigation against him, the indictment continues. To this end, he had forged a plot with his personal assistant Walt Nauta, against whom charges were also filed. Trump had instructed the employee, among other things, to bring boxes elsewhere. He is said to have advised a lawyer to hide or destroy documents.
Trump is said to have talked to his legal team about the secret documents in May 2022 - before the FBI search of his estate. He is said to have said: "Wouldn't it be better if we just told them that we don't have anything here?" and: "Isn't it better if there are no documents?"
After Trump officially announced in November that he would run again in the 2024 election, the Justice Department appointed independent special counsel Jack Smith to outsource the politically sensitive investigation against Trump. Smith held out the prospect of a speedy trial in the case in Washington on Friday and called on the public to read the indictment in its entirety to understand the scope and seriousness of the crimes. (vk/dpa)