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The federal government unsealed the indictment Friday against former President Donald Trump, detailing allegations that he and an aide, Waltine (“Walt”) Nauta, conspired to hide boxes that contained classified documents including sensitive national security secrets.
The federal indictment released Friday by U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Special Counsel Jack Smith., Trump’s second in two months after a state court indictment in Manhattan in March, includes 38 counts of alleged crimes, along with 31 separate counts of alleged willful retention of national defense information under the Espionage Act.
The nearly 50-page indictment lays out the federal government’s argument against the former president. The Justice Department alleges Trump mishandled classified documents after he left office, including by storing them in a ballroom and a bathroom at Mar-a-Lago. The indictment also claims that Trump and Nauta obstructed efforts to reclaim the documents.
The indictment includes more details about the documents than had previously been known, such as that some of them contained information about foreign countries’ nuclear capabilities, or past attacks on the United States.
One part of the indictment recounts a recorded conversation that Trump had with a writer who was interviewing him, in which the former president allegedly produced a secret Department of Defense document to refute claims by a general that Trump had wanted to attack another country.
Trump is described as having said that he once could have declassified the document, but that it was still “secret” — a statement that prosecutors will use to rebut claims that Trump intended to declassify everything he brought with him when he left the White House.
Much of the indictment concerns mundane details about where documents were stored temporarily. These descriptions are meant to portray Trump’s handling of the documents as careless and reckless.
Moreover, the indictment contains references to Trump’s previous statements, as a candidate and as president, about the importance of handling classified documents properly. These statements could be used to prove evidence of Trump’s knowledge of the law, and could also have been included for public consumption, to suggest hypocrisy on the part of the former president.
Trump is described as having deceived his lawyers about the whereabouts of some boxes, causing at least one of them to make a false statement to authorities certifying that all documents sought had been returned to the government. Nauta is described as having misled federal investigators about his knowledge of the boxes’ whereabouts.
Special Counsel Jack Smith, appointed by President Joe Biden’s attorney general Merrick Garland, will hold a press conference Friday afternoon.
Trump maintains his innocence and called the indictment the “Boxes Hoax.”
“The corrupt Biden Administration has informed my attorneys that I have been Indicted, seemingly over the Boxes Hoax,” Trump posted on Truth Social, “even though Joe Biden has 1850 Boxes at the University of Delaware, additional Boxes in Chinatown, D.C., with even more Boxes at the University of Pennsylvania.”
The judge presiding over the case is Trump-appointed U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon, who granted Trump a special master during the investigation last year.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.