Donald Trump was so loose with secret government documents, he was showing them to someone from his super PAC and hiding them in his shower.
After being impeached twice, criminally indicted, and found liable for sexual abuse and defamation, the former president has now received 37 criminal counts for mishandling classified government documents.
The indictment, released Friday, lays out wild details about how Trump handled the documents, even being “personally involved” in packing up the boxes full of the classified information as he left the White House.
After transporting the classified documents to Mar-a-Lago, Trump apparently hid the boxes in a Mar-a-Lago ballroom, bathroom and shower, an office, his bedroom, and a storage room.
At the Bedminster Club in New Jersey, in August or September 2021, Trump allegedly showed a representative of his PAC—who did not have security clearance—“a classified map related to a military operation and told the representative that he should not be showing it to the representative and that the representative should not get too close.”
All told, Trump allegedly retained classified documents from seven agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Defense, National Security Agency, and State Department.
Also at the Bedminster club, Trump showed a writer, a publisher, and two members of his staff—none with security clearance—a “plan of attack” that was apparently prepared for him by the DOD and a senior military official. He called it “highly confidential” and “secret,” adding, “As president I could have declassified it,” and, “Now I can’t, you know, but this is still a secret.” Previous reporting indicates this may have been a Pentagon document on a plan to attack Iran.
In the August Mar-a-Lago FBI search alone, out of the 102 documents recovered, 17 were classified as “Top Secret,” 54 were “Secret,” and 31 were “Confidential.”
Before said raid, and after Trump was issued a subpoena in May, one of Trump’s attorneys had recounted that Trump apparently said, “I don’t want anybody looking, I don’t want anybody looking through my boxes, I really don’t,” and “Well what if we, what happens if we just don’t respond at all or don’t play ball with them?” and even “Wouldn’t it be better if we just told them we don’t have anything here?”
Note, again, while others, including Joe Biden and Mike Pence, have been found to have possessed classified documents from previous administrations, each have complied with inquiries and in returning documents expeditiously, something Trump demonstrably did not do and has actively obstructed.
Donald Trump received 37 criminal counts in the special counsel’s investigation into his alleged mishandling of classified documents.
Trump became the first former president ever to be federally indicted late Thursday. He was also previously impeached twice, criminally indicted, and found liable of sexual abuse and defamation. He is still under investigation for allegedly trying to overturn the 2020 election. Trump has unilaterally rejected every accusation leveled against him, including in the special counsel investigation—and before it was even announced what those charges would be.
The charges were unsealed Friday afternoon. Trump was charged with 31 counts of willful retention of national defense information, for keeping classified documents related to national security despite being unauthorized to do so. He was also charged with one count of making false statements and representations, for claiming he had returned all the documents.
Trump and his body man, Walt Nauta, were both charged with one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice for moving boxes of classified documents and hiding them from Trump’s legal team. They were charged with one count of withholding a document or record, one count of corruptly concealing a document or record, one count of concealing a document in a federal investigation, and one count of a scheme to conceal.
Nauta was also charged with one count of making false statements and representations, separate from the claims Trump made. Nauta had helped move boxes of classified material from a storage room. He told investigators he did not know what was in the boxes or how they had gotten there in the first place.
Read through the 49-page indictment here.
They say that misery loves company, and Donald Trump is no longer alone in being indicted for allegedly mishandling classified documents. And he may get more company soon.
Trump and his body man Walt Nauta have both been charged in the investigation into the former president’s handling of classified material. Nauta’s charging caught many people off guard, as special counsel Jack Smith, who leads the investigation, has played his cards close to his chest.
But it shows that Smith’s investigation is more far-reaching than initially expected.
As now twice-indicted former President Donald Trump confronts yet another legal battle, he is shaking up his legal team for the umpteenth time.
Trump announced on Truth Social Friday that he is calling up Todd Blanche “and a firm to be named later” to represent him as he faces charges for mishandling and refusing to return classified government information after leaving the White House.
With the call-up, the twice-impeached and liable-for-sexual-abuse former president is saying bye-bye to lawyers Jim Trusty and John Rowley. The departure was unexpected, as Trusty had been on CNN just hours earlier going to bat to defend Trump.
Blanche is an elite white-collar criminal defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor. Previously, he has represented former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and Igor Fruman, a former Rudy Giuliani associate who allegedly helped scour Ukraine for damaging information on Trump’s rivals. Fruman was sentenced to a one-year prison term for a campaign finance violation.
Manafort was able to evade mortgage fraud and other charges with the help of Blanche—charges Blanche had called “politically motivated,” just as Trump’s team calls the ones he faces now.
For their part, Trusty and Rowley claim to be resigning because it is “a logical moment” to step aside since the case has been filed in Miami. It is unclear why exactly it’s a “logical moment” for someone’s two defense lawyers to “resign” just because it’s in Miami (unless they personally felt victimized by Ron DeSantis’s war on civil rights or something).
Perhaps Trump fired them to shake up his legal defenses, given how poor his track record in the courts has been up to this point. But Trump recruited Blanche before his Manhattan arraignment too, and well, we saw how that went. Perhaps the lawyers did leave of their own volition, but to jump from a sinking ship. Either way, the shake-up doesn’t necessarily bode strongly for the serial criminal.
Donald Trump’s aide Walt Nauta has been charged as part of the investigation into the former president’s alleged mishandling of classified documents.
Trump on Thursday became the first former president to be federally indicted when he was charged with seven counts, which reportedly include violations of the Espionage Act, obstruction, and making false statements. Other charges are expected against some of his allies, but it is not yet known what those charges might include.
The charges against Nauta have not yet been revealed, but he has been a particular focus of special counsel Jack Smith’s team. Investigators suspected Nauta had helped move and possibly hide classified documents stored at Mar-a-Lago.
Nauta joined Trump’s team as a military valet at the White House, and he is one of the few remaining staffers from Trump’s time in office. After Trump lost the presidency, Nauta went to work for him at Mar-a-Lago, eventually leaving the military to stay on as a civilian aide. Nauta has quickly become Trump’s right-hand man: At the White House, he would reportedly stand nearby, ready with whatever Trump needed, be it a coat, a drink, or a piece of paper. Now he shadows Trump on all of his campaign appearances.
He also moves boxes at Mar-a-Lago. Prosecutors obtained notes from one of Trump’s lawyers, Evan Corcoran, which revealed that Trump and Nauta knew exactly where and when Corcoran was planning to search for the documents at Mar-a-Lago.
Nauta had previously testified that Trump asked him to move boxes out of the storage room both before and after the subpoena was issued. The Guardian reported that prosecutors could be investigating whether Nauta knew exactly what was in the boxes he was moving.
At one point, another Mar-a-Lago employee helped Nauta move some of the boxes. That second employee, while draining the resort pool in October, flooded a room full of computer services used to store surveillance footage from around the property. It is unclear whether the flood was accidental or intentional.
According to Corcoran’s notes, Nauta had also offered to help him look through the boxes in the storage room, which Corcoran declined. But he took breaks during the multiday search, leaving the storage room unattended multiple times.
Trump lashed out Friday at the Department of Justice over Nauta’s indictment, calling the department employees “thugs” on Truth Social. “They are trying to destroy his life, like the lives of so many others, hoping that he will say bad things about ‘Trump,’” he wrote. “The FBI and DOJ are CORRUPT!”
This story has been updated.
Former President Donald Trump has now been twice criminally indicted, this time facing federal charges for taking hundreds of classified documents from the White House and refusing to turn them over. It’s a fun development given that he has repeatedly called for the lengthy imprisonment of those who mishandle classified information.
“On political corruption, we are going to restore honor to our government,” Trump said at a North Carolina rally in August 2016, while first campaigning for president. “In my administration, I’m going to enforce all laws concerning the protection of classified information. No one will be above the law.”
“One of the first things we must do is to enforce all classification rules and to enforce all laws relating to the handling of classified information,” he said a month later at a Pennsylvania rally.
His repeated calls were an attack on his then-opponent, Hillary Clinton, as he successfully “but her emails”–ed his way into the White House. He repeated the calls for imprisonment as president too.
“That is the most confidential stuff,” Trump said in 2017, after calls between him and foreign governments, as well as communications between soon-to-be national security adviser Michael Flynn and foreign governments, were leaked. “Classified. That’s classified. You go to prison when you release stuff like that.”
“He leaked CLASSIFIED information, for which he should be prosecuted,” Trump tweeted in April 2018, heeding false accusations that former FBI Director James Comey released classified information to the media.
In 2020, Trump repeatedly said that former national security adviser John Bolton should be imprisoned “for many, many years” for his memoir that apparently included “classified information, highly classified information and confidential information.”
Trump even went as far as to tell Fox host Brian Kilmeade that Bolton should go to jail whether he knew he leaked information or not.
The former president has insisted that the material he took to his lavish Florida estate was already declassified and that he has the power to declassify documents anyway, “just by thinking about it.” But in a newly released audio recording, Trump himself admits what everyone else already knew: He doesn’t have some magical power to declassify things, especially when he’s not even president.
In the recording, Trump says he held onto a classified Pentagon document about a potential attack on Iran, speaking to two people who did not have security clearance. “This totally wins my case, you know. Except it is, like, highly confidential. Secret. This is secret information,” Trump said. “As president, I could have declassified, but now I can’t,” he concedes.
Keep that pretty open admission (of again, what we already know to be true) in mind as Republicans trip over themselves finding new ways to defend Trump. For instance, Senator J.D. Vance insists that “everyone agrees the president has the authority to declassify anything,” even while the man he’s defending has outright admitted he does not.
Donald Trump is the first former president to be both federally indicted and indicted at all, and yet his rivals for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination are too scared to use that against him.
Republicans were livid at the Justice Department after Trump was indicted Thursday night for allegedly mishandling classified documents, and the other GOP presidential hopefuls were no exception. Almost all have accused the Biden administration of pushing a politically motivated investigation.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is second to Trump in the polls (albeit by a country mile) and his favorite target, slammed the supposed “weaponization of the federal government.” “We have for years witnessed an uneven application of the law depending upon political affiliation,” he tweeted.
Senator Tim Scott also decried the “weaponization of the Department [of] Justice” against Trump, and said that the scales of justice are “weighted.”
Vivek Ramaswamy said there were “two standards of justice” and promised to pardon Trump if he is elected next year. He also said the United States is an “administrative police state” and pushed the GOP-backed falsehood that the January 6 rioters were “peaceful … protesters.”
Nikki Haley, who served as ambassador to the U.N. under Trump, also called out supposed “double standards” and “vendetta politics” in a bland tweet. “This is not how justice should be pursued in our country,” she said. “It’s time to move beyond the endless drama and distractions.”
“But let me be very clear: No one is above the law,” he added.
Chris Christie, who is hinging his whole campaign on being the anti-Trump, also said that no one is above the law. But he seemed unwilling to go further, urging people to wait and “see what the facts are when any possible indictment is released.”
The only candidate to take a firm stand was Asa Hutchinson. The former Arkansas governor called on Trump to drop his presidential campaign.
“With the news that Donald Trump has been indicted for the second time, our country finds itself in a position that weakens our democracy,” Hutchinson said in a statement. “Donald Trump’s actions—from his willful disregard for the Constitution to his disrespect for the rule of law—should not define our nation or the Republican Party.”
Doug Burgum has yet to comment on the indictment.
The candidates’ pussyfooting should come as no surprise: They have been loath to condemn him for anything, even when he was criminally indicted or found liable for sexual abuse. Rather than take a stand, they’re content to cower behind Trump and hope his fan base will transfer its rabid loyalty to one of them.
This post has been updated.
The court summons sent to Trump and his legal team Thursday shows that U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon will initially oversee the case. Trump appointed Cannon to the bench in 2020.
Although many may have forgotten her name, Cannon received nationwide scrutiny at the start of the investigation into Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents. Following the FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago, and upset with how things were going, Trump filed a made-up motion titled a “Motion for Judicial Oversight and Additional Relief.”
Cannon agreed to hear the motion, despite having no jurisdiction to do so, and ultimately assigned a “special master” to review all of the material the FBI found at Mar-a-Lago before the investigation could proceed—a victory for Team Trump.
The Justice Department appealed the decision, and the Eleventh Circuit Court ultimately ruled that neither Cannon nor Trump had had any legal right for their actions. The appeals court threw Cannon’s decision out entirely.
As The New Republic’s Matt Ford previously explained,
Much of the panel’s analysis is aimed at Trump’s specific arguments before it, but there is also a palpable disdain for Cannon’s handling of the case to this point. At every point possible, the Eleventh Circuit highlighted the shortcomings in her analysis of precedent, the limited scope of her inquiries on factual matters, and the perfunctory way in which she applied the appropriate legal tests—all of which happened to tilt things in Trump’s favor. By their very nature, appeals courts often criticize rulings made by lower court judges. Even by these standards and expectations, the panel took great pains to make it unusually clear that Cannon had not just made a few simple mistakes.
This time around, Trump’s case would still be heard by a jury, but Cannon would get to determine Trump’s sentence. If she does oversee the case again, there’s no telling what breaks she’ll give Trump this time around.
Read more about Cannon and her “reign of error” here.
Twice-impeached, criminally indicted, and liable for sexual abuse former President Donald Trump has been indicted once again, this time for taking classified documents away from the White House and refusing to give them back.
The unsealed indictment held many damning revelations, from Trump being “personally involved” in packing up boxes full of classified information as he left the White House, to flaunting the secret documents to staffers, a publisher and writer, and even a representative of his PAC.
Showing off one classified document from the Department of Defense, he called it “highly confidential” and “secret,” adding, “As president I could have declassified it,” and, “Now I can’t, you know, but this is still a secret.”
And despite all that, prominent Republicans have been quadrupling down—violently—on defending the man that has helped lead them lose election after election.
“We have now reached a war phase,” Representative Andy Biggs tweeted Friday. “Eye for an eye,” he added, ignoring that a Florida grand jury decided on its own accord to indict the former president.
“These are just thugs that are going after President Trump,” Representative Tim Burchett followed, technically calling the jury of Trump’s peers the pejorative. “Now granted, he’s not perfect. He shouldn’t have had the files. I get that. But neither should Clinton. Neither should Reagan. Neither should either Bush. Neither should Obama and definitely not Biden, but they all do, and they all have.” Nothing has indicated that every single former president or vice president has taken classified documents out of the White House upon departure; those who have been found, including Mike Pence and President Biden, have promptly returned any documents found. Which Trump actively chose not to do.
Senator Mike Lee did not even engage one ounce with the charges, instead saying, “The Biden administration’s actions can only be compared to the type of oppressive tactics routeinly seen in nations such as Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua, which are absolutely alien and unacceptable in America.” According to Lee, holding a former president accountable for holding secret documents and actively taking steps to hide them somehow “echoes despotism, making it fundamentally at odds with American democratic values.”
(At least to the last part, Lee is not entirely wrong: it is fundamentally at odds with American history to hold presidents accountable for their crimes—from Iran Contra, to our laundry list of war crimes and military invasions, to sexual harassment.)
“Today is indeed a dark day for the United States of America,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said on Twitter before the indictment was even unsealed. “It is unconscionable for a President to indict the leading candidate opposing him. Joe Biden kept classified documents for decades. I, and every American who believes in the rule of law, stand with President Trump against this grave injustice. House Republicans will hold this brazen weaponization of power accountable,” he finished, assuring that there is no doubt: the Republican Party is planting its flag in supporting a man already found guilty of other crimes.
Ohio Senator J.D. Vance followed suit, saying the indictment is somehow Biden “using the justice system to preemptively steal the 2024 election,” in order to attack “his most likely 2024 opponent.” A wild suggestion given the basic fact that a grand jury of Americans voted to indict Trump, not Biden.
Nancy Mace pretended to not even be aware of a recording of Trump admitting that he knew the documents were classified and that he couldn’t declassify them, immediately pivoting instead to talking about Biden and Pence, who, again, both complied with returning documents upon discovery.
And, of course, the right’s attempts to already peddle theories about Biden stealing an election are dangerous, given so many of their own most prominent figures were caught red-handed trying to overturn the 2020 election.
“We’re living in a 3rd world Banana Republic,” Donald Trump, Jr. said about a country holding someone accountable for taking classified documents, refusing to give them back, and then lying about it. If they can do it to you, they can do it to anyone, patriots.
And as far as general meltdowns go, Representative Clay Higgins may be in the deeper end.
Presented without comment.
This post has been updated.
Former President Donald Trump may have just destroyed his own defense, all because he couldn’t stop bragging.
Trump is now the first former president to be federally indicted, over his alleged mishandling of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate. He has repeatedly insisted that all the material he brought to Florida was already declassified, and anyway, being president enabled him to declassify documents at will, including “just by thinking about it.”
But he knew better. In an audio recording of a July 2021 meeting, Trump admits that he had classified material and could not declassify it because he no longer holds office, CNN reported Friday.
Federal prosecutors obtained the recording, during which Trump says he held onto a classified Pentagon document about a potential attack on Iran. He met with two people working on an autobiography of his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, neither of whom had security clearance.
In the recording, Trump claims that he has a “big pile of papers” that undermine previous reports that chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley had convinced Trump not to attack Iran near the end of his presidency. Trump refers to one document as if he has it in front of him, and at one point there is the sound of paper rustling, as if he was showing the document off.
CNN was able to acquire a portion of the recording transcript, which shows Trump saying, “This totally wins my case, you know. Except it is, like, highly confidential. Secret. This is secret information.”
“As president, I could have declassified, but now I can’t,” he admits.
The meeting took place six months before Trump’s legal team sent 15 boxes of records and classified documents back to the National Archives, and more than a year before the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago, seizing more than 100 documents. Federal prosecutors have been unable to locate this particular Iran document.
Trump’s biggest defense is that he could declassify whatever material he wanted. His allies had previously argued that he had a “standing declassification order” that would immediately declassify any document removed from the Oval Office. Trump himself claimed he could declassify things “just by thinking about it.” But he knew it was all bunk—and he said so.
Twice impeached, now twice indicted, found liable for sexual abuse and defamation, sued for defamation twice more, and under investigation for trying to overturn the 2020 election.… It’s not looking pretty.