Indictments against former President Donald J. Trump and a personal aide, Walt Nauta, released Friday, reveal a host of embarrassing and potentially devastating new details about a year-long investigation shrouded in secrecy.
The 49-page indictment, containing 37 counts and seven separate charges against the former president and one against his aide, gave the clearest picture yet of the extent of the sensitive documents that Mr. Trump removed from the White House, the comically haphazard way in which he and his staff handled documents — and, more importantly, what prosecutors described as a pattern of obstruction and misrepresentation intended to block the FBI and the grand jury.
Here are some of the biggest and most surprising claims:
Mr. Trump and Mr. Nauta are charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice.
Prosecutors say they have gathered evidence showing that Mr. Trump deliberately ignored a May 2022 subpoena requiring him to return everything belonging to the National Archives – and took extraordinary measures to obstruct the FBI and the grand jury .
In the hours before Mr. Trump’s lawyer visited his Mar-a-Lago estate to search for documents in a storage room – an attempt to comply with the subpoena – Mr. Trump ordered Mr. Nauta, his co-defendant, to move 64 of the boxes out of the storage room because he maintained they were his property.
“I don’t want anyone going through my boxes, really,” Mr. Trump told one of his attorneys, according to the indictment.
He put boxes of important documents in the shower.
The indictment says that in April 2021, Mr. Trump’s employees had to move dozens of boxes from a ballroom they were converting into offices. “There’s still a little room in the shower where his other stuff is,” one assistant texted another. Shortly after, the boxes were carried to a small bathroom adjacent to a Mar-a-Lago banquet hall and piled near the small chandelier next to the toilet.
Top secret documents were stored so carelessly that they spilled on the floor.
One of the most striking images of the document is a photo of a box of top secret national security documents that, in 2021, had spilled onto the floor of a Mar-a-Lago storage room accessible to many station employees. The files were marked with restrictive “five-eye” classification marks, indicating that they could only be viewed by officials with the highest security clearances issued by the United States and its closest allies.
Mr Trump suggested his lawyer take a folder of documents and “if there’s something really bad in there, like, you know, rip it out”.
In one of the most problematic pieces of evidence for Mr. Trump, the indictment recounts how, in the words of his attorney, Mr. Trump and the attorney discussed what to do with a folder of 38 documents with classification marks. The lawyer said Mr Trump made a ‘snatch motion’ which involved, ‘why don’t you take them with you to your hotel room and if there’s something really bad there- in it, like, you know, rip it off.”
This could indicate that he knew he had sensitive documents, the “bad ones”, authorized people without proper security clearances to check them – rather than simply sending everything back to the archives, as the government demanded.
Mr Trump shared secrets with visitors to Bedminster. There is sound.
Numerous episodes chronicled in the dossier were reported in the news media – including a potentially damaging revelation that it was recorded showing secret US battle plans – describing the material as “highly confidential” and “secret”, while admitting that he had not been downgraded.
“You see, as president, I could have declassified it,” Mr. Trump said. He added: “Now I can’t, you know, but it’s still a secret.”
A secret card was allegedly shared with a staff member of the political action committee.
In another incident in August or September 2021, he shared a top-secret military card with a staff member from his political action committee who did not have a security clearance.
According to the indictment, the former president implied that a military operation in an unnamed country was not going well. He showed the staff member the card but, according to the indictment, warned the person “not to get too close”.
In these interactions, he seemed less interested in the content of the material than in the fact that it had been “presented” to me, as a gift or a keepsake.
“Isn’t it amazing? he asked a visitor after showing a document, adding that he had torn the papers at random “from a big pile”, suggesting he had many more.
Mr. Evan Corcoran, one of Trump’s lawyers, is a key witness.
Mr. Corcoran, who kept meticulous notes (some of them transcribed from iPhone voice memos he created for himself), found himself in the position of pressuring his evasive client to let him do both the legal and self-protective thing by returning the documents to the government. .
In one of the most stunning revelations, prosecutors said Mr. Trump and Mr. Nauta moved boxes so that Mr. Corcoran, who had requested a full account of the materials to be provided to investigators, could not find.