Trump aide Walt Nauta has also been charged after he was apparently spotted on surveillance footage moving boxes at the property. The ex-president stands accused of having moved classified documents from the White House at the end of his presidency despite not having the right to do so.
Mr Trump showed classified documents to others twice in 2021, the legal filing states.
Mr Turley, the Shapiro Chair of Public Interest Law at George Washington University, said on Fox News on Friday afternoon that “it is an extremely damning indictment”.
“There are indictments that are sometimes called narrative or speaking indictments. These are indictments that are really meant to make a point as to the depth of the evidence, there are some indictments that are just bare bones,” he added.
This is not one of those indictments, Mr Turley said.
“The Special Counsel knew that there would be a lot of people who were going to allege that the Department of Justice was acting in a biased or politically motivated way. This is clearly an indictment that was drafted to answer those questions. It's overwhelming in detail,” he continued. “The Trump team should not fool itself. These are hits below the waterline. These are witnesses who apparently testified under oath [and] gave statements to federal investigators, both of which can be criminally charged, if they're false.”
“Those witnesses are directly quoting the president in encouraging others not to look for documents or allegedly to conceal them. It's damaging,” Mr Turley said.
“This is not an indictment that you can dismiss. There are a lot of people who are testifying under oath, and they're saying highly incriminating things,” the attorney added.
Speaking about the images from Mar-a-Lago of the boxes of documents found in a ballroom and a bathroom, in addition to other less-than-ideal places, Mr Turley said, “It's really breathtaking. Obviously, this is mishandling. Putting the classified documents into ballrooms and bathrooms borders on the bizarre. And these are the types of pictures that hit you below the waterline in a trial.
“It's hard to show a picture of these boxes surrounding a toilet and saying ‘we really acted responsibly,’” he added, going on to note that “the government is bringing dozens of counts – they only have to land one of those punches”.
“Keep in mind that every one of these counts is coming with a substantial potential sentence,” Mr Turley said.
The lawyer said that the Trump legal team has “to run the table, they have to take out every single count, or you've got a 76-year-old man looking at a potentially terminal sentence”.
“The visual and the audio tape evidence is really daunting. The audio tape that they transcribe makes it sound like the President was using some of these documents as trophies. And that's likely to be the narrative that comes out of the trial, that he's boasting. That's going to undermine it even further in the eyes of these jurors,” Mr Turley concluded.
According to the indictment, “In July 2021, at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey (‘The Bedminster Club’), during an audio-recorded meeting with a writer, a publisher, and two members of his staff, none of whom possessed a security clearance, TRUMP showed and described a ‘plan of attack’ that TRUMP said was prepared for him by the Department of Defense and a senior military official”.
“TRUMP told the individuals that the plan was ‘highly confidential’ and ‘secret.’ TRUMP also said, ‘as president I could have declassified it,’ and, ‘Now I can’t, you know, but this is still a secret’,” the filing says.
A transcript of the 2021 tape was revealed by CNN on Friday morning, hours after news emerged that Mr Trump had been indicted.
On the tape, first reported last week, he specifically referenced a classified Department of Defense document regarding an attack on Iran, according to the transcript.
It was reported last week that prosecutors had procured the audio recording, which was made in 2021 at Mr Trump’s Bedminster, New Jersey, resort with two individuals working on the autobiography of Mr Trump’s final White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in addition to aides to the former president, such as Marco Martin, a communications staffer.
The transcript implies that Mr Trump is showing the document he’s speaking about during the conversation.CNN reported that several sources have said that the sound from the recording includes the rustling of papers, indicating that Mr Trump may have been moving the document around. But it’s not clear if it was the document regarding Iran.
“Secret. This is secret information. Look, look at this,” Mr Trump said. “This was done by the military and given to me.”
At the time, Mr Trump was complaining about the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley. The meeting took place not long after a story published by The New Yorker outlined how Gen Milley told the Joint Chiefs during the last days of Mr Trump’s time in office to make sure that the then-president not give any illegal orders and that Gen Milley should be made aware if there were any concerns.
“Well, with Milley – uh, let me see that, I’ll show you an example. He said that I wanted to attack Iran. Isn’t that amazing? I have a big pile of papers, this thing just came up. Look. This was him,” Mr Trump said, the transcript shows. “They presented me this – this is off the record, but – they presented me this. This was him. This was the Defense Department and him. We looked at some. This was him. This wasn’t done by me, this was him.”
“All sorts of stuff – pages long, look. Wait a minute, let’s see here. I just found, isn’t that amazing? This totally wins my case, you know. Except it is like, highly confidential. Secret. This is secret information. Look, look at this,” Mr Trump added.
“Secret” and “confidential” are both degrees of classified information.