An indicted Mar-a-Lago staff member texted photos of top secret documents scattered on the floor of a storage room at Donald Trump’s Florida club, according to bombshell indictment unsealed on Friday.
“I opened the door and found this,” Mr Trump’s “bag man” Walt Nauta texted an unknown Trump staffer in December 2021, along with two photos of the classified files sprawled on the floor.
At least one document was marked “Secret//Rel to USA, FVEY”, signifying that it was only meant to be viewed by the Five Eyes intelligence sharing alliance of the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
The photo was among several contained in the 49-page indictment against Mr Trump, which laid out in stunning detail the 15-month investigation into his reckless mishandling of top secret material after leaving office.
One image showed about 30 boxes of classified documents in a bathroom haphazardly crammed around a toilet next to a shower curtain. A silver chandelier can be seen above the boxes.
Another picture showed piles of classified documents on the stage at the Mar-a-Lago ballroom, where they had allegedly been left for two months.
Other photos released by the Department of Justice show boxes of top secret material crammed into storage rooms around the Florida residence.
After leaving the White House, Mr Trump’s private club at Palm Beach became his main residence.
It also became a “magnet” for foreign spies, former intelligence officials warned.
In August 2022, a Ukrainian woman posing as a member of the Rothschild family gained access to the club, according to reports.
Inna Yashchyshyn mingled at Mar-a-Lago functions with Mr Trump and South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham, according to an article from the Organized Crime & Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).
During Mr Trump’s presidency, a suspected Chinese spy was arrested and sentenced to eight months prison after being found guilty of trespassing and lying to Secret Service agents about why she was at the property.
Mr Trump also welcomed Kanye West and known white supremacist Nick Fuentes to the club.
The former president has been indicted on 37 counts of willful retention of national defence information, conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding a document or record, corruptly concealing a document or record, concealing a document in a federal investigation, scheme to conceal, and false statements and representations.
The indictment accuses Mr Trump of illegally holding onto materials on US nuclear programmes, potential vulnerabilities to the US and its allies to military attack, and plans for possible retaliation in response to a foreign attack.
Mr Nauta, a former Navy officier and longtime Trump aide, has also been indicted on six felonies, after he allegedly removed 64 boxes from Mar-a-Lago to his home.
The unsealed indictment also details a conversation Mr Trump held with two lawyers in May 2023, in which the former president asks: “Wouldn’t it be better if we just told them we don’t have anything here?”
In his first public remarks, Special Counsel Jack Smith said he wanted all Americans to read the indictment in full “to understand the scope and the gravity of the crimes charged.”
“We have one set of laws in this country, and they apply to everyone,” Mr Smith told a press conference on Friday afternoon.
Mr Trump, who will appear in court in Miami on Tuesday, faces up to 100 years in prison if convicted. He has angrily protested his innocence in a series of Truth Social posts.
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