Trump indictment: Ex-president kept nuclear and military papers and showed some to unauthorised people

Indictment unsealed on Friday reveals accusations against former president

Andrew Feinberg,Alex Woodward
Saturday 10 June 2023 08:44 EDT
DOJ unseal second indictment against Donald Trump

Former president Donald Trump showed highly classified information to unauthorised persons on two separate occasions, according to a copy of the indictment against him that has been obtained by The Independent.

The 49-page, 37-count indictment was unsealed on Friday after Mr Trump released a series of social media posts revealing that he has been indicted by a grand jury under supervision of Special Counsel Jack Smith.

Mr Smith, who was named to oversee investigations into Mr Trump last fall by US Attorney General Merrick Garland, addressed the unprecedented charges against the twice-impeached, now twice-indicted ex-president in a brief public statement hours after the charging document became public.

The former war crimes prosecutor, who returned to the US from The Hague to run the Trump documents probe, said Mr Trump was charged “with felony violations of our national security laws as well as participating in a conspiracy to obstruct justice” after a vote by a “grand jury of citizens” in the Southern District of Florida, the judicial district where Mr Trump’s primary residence is located and where his crimes are alleged to have occured.

Mr Smith said in brief remarks on 9 June that US laws enacted to protect information relating to national defence “are critical to the safety and security of the United States” and “must be enforced” because violations of those laws “put our country at risk”.

He also defended himself and his team against accusations of political bias, declaring that there is “one set of laws” in the US that “apply to everyone,” and telling reporters that his team had investigated the case while “hewing to the highest ethical standards” and would “continue to do so”.

Mr Smith also stressed that Mr Trump and his co-defendant, Walt Nauta, “must be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law”.

“To that end, my office will seek a speedy trial on this matter consistent with the public interest and the rights of the accused. We very much look forward to presenting our case to a jury of citizens in the Southern District of Florida,” he added.

The indictment details the charges against Mr Trump and Mr Nauta, a former US Navy noncommissioned officer who left government service to work for Mr Trump after his term ended in January 2021.

It also lays out the two instances on which Mr Trump showed classified documents to unauthorised persons at his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club.

The first, in July 2021, was during an interview with a writer and a publisher who were working on a book by his ex-chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

According to the indictment, Mr Trump showed the writer, the book publisher, and two staff members who lacked security clearances a “plan of attack” put together by General Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who had recently been reported as criticising Mr Trump by the New Yorker.

The second instance involved a classified map of an unnamed country, and staff working for Mr Trump’s political action committee. The indictment states that Mr Trump acknowledged that he lacked the authorisation to show the documents at issue to the people who were present for both incidents.

According to the indictment, the 37 charges against Mr Trump and Mr Nauta include 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.

One of the six sections under the Espionage Act, Section 793, prohibits “gathering, transmitting or losing” any “information respecting the national defence”.

Counts one through 31 in Mr Trump’s federal indictment include individual documents in his possession from 20 January 2021 until 6 August 2022 or 3 June 2022.

The documents include documents designated “secret” and “top secret”, related to White House intelligence briefings, foreign military activity, communication with foreign leaders, foreign military impacts on US interests, and communications with a foreign leader.

At least one document concerns US nuclear weaponry.

Photo of document boxes in Former President Donald Trump’s Mar a Lago residence released by US Justice Department as part of indictment

Another involves nuclear capabilities for a foreign government.

The former president and Mr Nauta “did knowingly combine, conspire, confederate and agree” to withhold documents under Section 1512 under Title 18 of US code, according to the indictment. The statute includes a broad prohibition against tampering with a witness, victim or informant involved in a federal investigation.

According to prosecutors, Mr Trump conspired to conceal documents from a grand jury and federal officials, by suggesting that his attorneys make false statements to authorities, by moving boxes of documents to hide from attorneys, by suggesting that documents be hidden or destroyed, and falsely certifying that classified documents were produced to authorities “when, in fact, they had not.”

Mr Trump faces additional charges for making false statements, or allowing his legal team to make false statements, for allegedly lying to law enforcement about the documents in his possession.

Trump aide Walter Nauta also faces charges

According to the indictment, the former president made a “materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statement” when he swore to a grand jury investigation and federal law enforcement probe that he provided all documents as requested.

The conspiracy charges and other counts in the indictment lay out a timeline for the final six counts against the former president — all but the unlawful retention charges.

The indictment states that the conspiracy began on 22 May 2022, the day Mr Trump was served with a grand jury subpoena compelling him to turn over to the government “all documents with classification markings” in his possession.

It alleges that following a meeting with his attorneys to discuss the subpoena, Mr Trump directed Mr Nauta to move approximately 64 boxes of documents from the Mar-a-Lago storage room where most of the documents he’d taken from the White House were being stored so Mr Trump could review the contents of the boxes.

It also alleges that Mr Nauta — at Mr Trump’s direction — worked with another Mar-a-Lago employee to move roughly 30 of those 64 boxes back to the storage room the day before his attorney was set to search the boxes for classified documents as part of his efforts to ensure Mr Trump complied with the subpoena, and states that neither Mr Trump nor Mr Nauta informed Mr Trump’s attorney that a significant number of boxes were not in the storage room for him to search.

Mr Trump is also alleged to have suggested to his attorney that the attorney conceal “anything really bad” from federal investigators during a meeting on 2 June, the day before Justice Department personnel were scheduled to visit Mar-a-Lago to collect classified documents compiled by the attorney during his search of the boxes in the storage room.

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