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Trump charged with handling classified documents

In a stunning development, a federal grand jury in Florida on Thursday indicted former US President Donald Trump for keeping sensitive government documents after he left the White House.

The Justice Department notified Trump that he had been charged and asked him to make his first appearance in court in Miami on Tuesday, the former president confirmed on his social media platform.

“The corrupt Biden administration has notified my attorneys that I have been charged, apparently for the box hoax,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform, apparently alluding to boxes of documents seized by the FBI from his estate. from Florida last August.

The indictment remains sealed, but seven news outlets, citing sources familiar with the matter, said it contained multiple criminal charges.

In a search warrant request for Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate last year, the FBI listed three laws that may have been broken.

The first is part of the Espionage Act and prohibits the unauthorized transmission or retention of “national defense information” such as classified government documents.

Another law concerns the obstruction of a federal investigation by the destruction, alteration and falsification of records.

Violations of both statutes are punishable by 10 to 20 years in prison.

The indictment makes Trump the first former president to be charged in federal court. He faces separate charges in New York state for falsifying business records to hide a silent payment to an adult film star in 2016. He has pleaded not guilty in the case.

Evan Corcoran, an attorney for Trump, did not immediately respond to a VOA request for comment.

The Justice Department had been investigating Trump since early last year after learning from the National Archives that the former president hid hundreds of sensitive government documents at his Florida compound and thwarted government efforts to recover them. .

The FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago last August led to the discovery of more than 100 classified documents.

In total, prosecutors recovered more than 300 classified government documents from Trump bearing various classification marks, including “top secret/sensitive compartmented information,” the highest level of classification.

A sign at the Department of Justice is pictured late June 8, 2023 in Washington. Former President Donald Trump said Thursday he was charged with mishandling classified documents at his Florida estate.

The investigation has been conducted for most of the last year by the Department of Justice. But Trump’s announcement in November that he was running for president prompted Attorney General Merrick Garland to appoint Jack Smith, a former Justice Department career prosecutor, as special counsel.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing related to the documents, calling the investigation a witch hunt designed to sabotage his re-election bid.

He also claimed he had a standing order to declassify all documents taken from the Oval Office at the White House residence.

But prosecutors reportedly obtained an audio recording from 2021 in which Trump admitted he kept a classified Pentagon document, which contradicts his claim that he declassified all documents.

The indictment cannot prevent Trump from continuing his presidential campaign.

In fact, former federal prosecutor John Malcolm noted that no law would prevent him from running, even if convicted.

“There have been people running for office from prison cells,” Malcolm said.

In 2002, former Representative Jim Traficant ran for his old seat in Congress while serving a prison sentence for corruption.


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