“Our laws that protect national defense information are critical for the safety and security of the United States and they must be enforced,” Special Counsel Jack Smith said at a news conference after the indictment was unsealed.
Trump is charged with 31 counts of the 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 scheming to conceal; and one count of making false statements and representations.
In a news conference, Smith urged the public to read the indictment in full to understand the scope and gravity of the charges.
Smith referred to the U.S. as a nation of laws, laws to which all people must be held accountable. He said his team would be pursuing a speedy trial in the case.
The indictment also charges Waltine Nauta, a member of the U.S. Navy stationed at the White House to act as Trump’s valet, with six counts. Trump and Nauta are set to be arraigned at 3 p.m. on Tuesday in a federal courthouse in Miami.
The indictment alleges Trump gathered official documents, along with other materials, including newspapers, press clippings, letters, notes, cards and photographs, into cardboard boxes. Those boxes contained classified materials.
“The classified documents Trump stored in his boxes included information regarding defense and weapons capabilities of both the United States and foreign countries; United States nuclear programs; potential vulnerabilities of the United States and its allies to military attack; and plans for possible retaliation in response to a foreign attack,” the indictment reads.
During the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, agents recovered 102 documents with classified markings. Twenty-seven of those were found in Trump’s office and 75 were in a storage room. Of those, 27 were marked top secret, 54 were marked secret and 31 were marked confidential.
The documents included papers from a number of federal agencies, including the CIA, the Department of Defense and the National Security Agency.
According to the indictment, those documents were taken to Mar-a-Lago, where they were stored in unauthorized locations, including at one point being stored in a shower. It details two occasions when Trump showed sensitive documents to people not authorized to view them.
One incident involved a writer and publisher, along with two staff members, who interviewed Trump at The Bedminster Club in New Jersey. Trump allegedly showed the group a plan to attack a foreign country, devised by a senior military official. The indictment did not name the country, but according to reporting from CNN, the plan was regarding Iran.
“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. They presented me this — this is off the record, but they presented me this. This was him. This was the Defense Department and him,” Trump said, according to the indictment.
Later on in the exchange, Trump said he could have declassified the paper when he was president, before noting that he could not do so once he left office, so it was still secret. According to the indictment, none of the individuals had clearance to access those documents.
The second incident involved a representative from Trump’s political action committee. During a meeting, Trump allegedly commented about an ongoing operation in an unspecified country before showing the person a classified map.
According to the indictment, Trump acknowledged that he should not be showing the representative the map, telling him not to stand too close.
The indictment also claims Trump worked with Nauta to conceal documents from search and suggested that his attorneys make false statements to the FBI, as well as suggesting they hide or destroy documents that had been requested by a grand jury.
The indictment includes statements attributed to Trump, including “Wouldn’t it be better if we just told them we don’t have anything here?” and “What happens if we just don’t respond at all or don’t play ball with them?”
After the FBI and the grand jury issued a subpoena for the documents, Trump and Nauta reportedly misled the attorney tasked with searching the boxes and turning the materials over. Trump reportedly directed Nauta to move boxes so the attorney would not find all of the documents to give to a federal grand jury.
Trump responded to the indictment on his social network, Truth Social. Trump accused President Joe Biden of also mishandling classified documents, lashing out at Smith and claiming he was allowed to take the documents with him.
“Biden had records for years, totally unsecured, even stolen when he was a Senator. This is crazy! Just like Jack Smith, Lisa Monaco, and the man they sent to the D.A.’s Office, Matt Colangelo. It isn’t America anymore. Under the Presidential Records Act, I’m allowed to do all this. Under the Clinton Socks Case, the decision is clear. There was no crime, except for what the DOJ and FBI have been doing against me for years,” one post read.
Another said, in part, “Biden moved his Boxes all over the place, including to Chinatown and up to his lawyer’s office in Boston. Why isn’t deranged Jack Smith looking at that? Also, I supplied them openly, and without question, security tape from Mar-a-Lago. I had nothing to hide, nor do I now. Nobody said I wasn’t allowed to look at the personal records that I brought with me from the White House. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
If convicted, Trump and Nauta could each potentially face decades in prison and more than $1 million in fines.