Former President Donald Trump lied and misled federal investigators to hold on to sensitive materials that he knew were still classified, according to a 49-page indictment unsealed Friday in the Justice Department’s case into his handling of classified documents.
Trump has been charged with 37 counts in total: 31 counts of willful retention of national defense information; one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice; 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; one count of scheme to conceal; and one count of false statements and representations.
“I invite everyone to read it in full to understand the scope and the gravity of the crimes charged,” Special Counsel Jack Smith said in a brief statement on Friday. “Our laws that protect national defense information are critical to the safety and security of the United States and they must be enforced. Violations of those laws put our country at risk.”
The indictment alleges Trump had “lawful access to the most sensitive classified documents and national defense information gathered and owned by the United States government.”
The indictment also details that when investigators attempted to subpoena and search his Florida home, Trump “endeavored to obstruct the FBI and grand jury investigations and conceal his continued retention of classified documents” by suggesting his attorney falsely tell the FBI and the grand jury that he didn’t have documents.
Between January 2021 and August 2022, Mar-a-Lago hosted more than 150 social events, including weddings and fundraisers, which meant anyone could have seen those documents.
The counts of conspiracy and concealment carry a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.
According to the indictment, on June 2, Trump allegedly asked, “Did you find anything?…. Is it bad? Good?” and they discussed what to do with the documents.
According to the indictment, when Trump left the White House he took documents that “included information regarding defense and weapons capabilities of both the U.S. and foreign countries; United States nuclear programs; potential vulnerabilities of the United States and its allies to military attack; and plans for a possible retaliation in response to a foreign attack.”
“Well, with [the Senior Military Official] — uh, let me see that, I’ll show you an example. He said that I wanted to attack [Country A]. Isn’t it amazing? I have a big pile of papers, this thing just came up. Look. This was him,” Trump said, according to prosecutors. “They presented me this–this is off the record, but—they presented me this. This was him. This was the Defense Department and him.”
“Secret. This is secret information. Look, look at this,” Trump said, according to prosecutors.
“See as president, I could have declassified it,” Trump said, the indictment stated.
“Now I can’t, you know, but this is still a secret,” Trump said, according to the indictment.