Trump Indictment: Live Updates On Mar-A-Lago Documents Case

Trump is now the first former president to face federal charges.
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Former President Donald Trump has been indicted by the Justice Department over his handling of classified documents at his residence at Mar-a-Lago in Florida, according to court documents unsealed Friday.

Trump, who is facing felony charges related to retaining classified information, making false statements and obstructing justice, will appear in court in Miami on Tuesday.

Read live updates on the indictment below:

Trump Aide Walt Nauta Indicted In Classified Documents Case: Report

An aide to former President Donald Trump who was seen on surveillance video moving boxes believed to contain sensitive government documents has been indicted, The Wall Street Journal first reported Friday.

Walt Nauta, a former military valet, worked at Mar-a-Lago following Trump’s presidency. Nauta had previously been eyed by investigators in the documents probe after he was seen on Mar-a-Lago surveillance video moving boxes from a storage room before and after a subpoena was issued.

Nauta later told investigators he moved the boxes at Trump’s request.

It's not yet clear what the charges against Nauta are.

Trump Attorneys Resign

Two top Trump attorneys, Jim Trusty and John Rowley, have resigned from his legal team.

In a statement, Trusty and Rowley said they resigned Friday morning.

"Now that the case has been filed in Miami, this is a logical moment for us to step aside and let others carry the cases through to completion," the statement reads.

Trusty appeared on CNN Thursday evening to defend Trump and criticize the DOJ.

Trump addressed the changes to his legal team Friday morning.

“For purposes of fighting the Greatest Witch Hunt of all time, now moving to the Florida Courts, I will be represented by Todd Blanche, Esq., and a firm to be named later,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social site. “I want to thank Jim Trusty and John Rowley for their work, but they were up against a very dishonest, corrupt, evil, and 'sick' group of people, the likes of which has not been seen before.”

Blanche, a criminal defense lawyer, was previously hired by Trump to fight the criminal charges he’s facing in Manhattan over alleged hush money payments.

Pence Reacts

After canceling his scheduled appearance on Fox News on Thursday evening, former Vice President Mike Pence sat down Friday morning with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt to react to Trump’s indictment. During the interview, Pence compared Trump’s actions with his own handling of classified documents, which were found at his Indiana home in January. Last week, the Justice Department told the former vice president it would not be pursuing criminal charges against him.

“We fully cooperated with the Justice Department. I took full responsibility, and I’m pleased the Justice Department concluded that investigation last week, found that it was an innocent mistake,” said Pence, who is running against Trump for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024. “But it was a mistake. We have to protect our nation’s secrets.”

Pence continued: “And my only hope is as we learn about the facts of this indictment next week, that the American people will see in this case that it would meet a high standard necessary to justify the unprecedented federal indictment of a former president of the United States by the current president of the United States’ Justice Department, and by a potential rival.”

Pence previously warned the Justice Department against charging Trump in the documents case, arguing that doing so would be “terribly divisive.”

He stood by that argument during his interview with Hewitt, saying the indictment “sends a divisive message across the country and a terrible message across the wider world.” He also vowed to “clean house” at the Justice Department if elected president.

Biden Ignores Shouted Questions About Trump’s Latest Indictment

President Joe Biden ignored reporters’ shouted questions about Trump’s indictment as he boarded Air Force One on Friday morning, per a White House pool report.

Pool reporters tried to get Biden to weigh in on the news as he walked from his motorcade to his presidential plane bound for North Carolina, where he is scheduled to give remarks about workforce training programs.

Biden simply kept walking to his plane.

Mitt Romney: Trump 'Brought These Charges Upon Himself'

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) didn’t mince words in a statement Friday blaming former President Donald Trump for the charges he now faces for keeping classified documents.

“Mr. Trump brought these charges upon himself by not only taking classified documents, but by refusing to simply return them when given numerous opportunities to do so,” Romney said.
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Nixon Historian: Trump Understood Power But Not Obligations

Presidential historian Timothy Naftali, who is the former director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, told CNN that former President Donald Trump failed to understand a key responsibility of the White House, HuffPost's Lee Morán writes.

“We live in a constitutional democracy. Everybody, including the president, is bound by the Constitution and there are limits to their power,” Naftali said.

“Trump not only had a hard time with limits, he didn’t respect them,” Naftali added. “And this is a case where he was told repeatedly that there were limits on his ability to keep materials and he said, ‘I don’t care.’”

Trump Appointee Judge Aileen Cannon May Initially Oversee Case: ABC

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, whom former President Donald Trump appointed to the federal bench in 2019, will be assigned to the case, ABC News reported, citing sources briefed on the matter.

Cannon has come into contact with Trump cases before. She faced criticism last year for granting Trump's request for an independent arbiter to review records taken during the Aug. 8, 2022, search of the former president's Mar-a-Lago residence.

Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart's name also appeared on summons sent to Trump, the sources said. He signed off on the initial search warrant of Mar-a-Lago in 2022 and ruled to unseal the search affidavit.

Trump Admits On Tape He Retained 'Secret' Information: CNN

Former President Donald Trump acknowledged in a 2021 meeting that he retained "secret" military information that he no longer had the power to declassify, CNN reported.

The network previously reported the existence of the meeting and on Friday said it obtained a transcript of the audio. The transcript suggests Trump is showing a document he's discussing to others in the room.

“All sorts of stuff — pages long, look. Wait a minute, let’s see here. I just found, isn’t that amazing? This totally wins my case, you know. Except it is like, highly confidential. Secret. This is secret information. Look, look at this," Trump said.

It's unknown whether the indictment involves this meeting. But the transcript suggests Trump had an understanding that documents in his possession were classified.

Democrats Warn Of Risks After Second Trump Indictment

While Democrats overall welcomed the historic federal indictment of former President Donald Trump over his handling of classified documents, some also warned of dangers.

“It’s the right thing to do, but there’s danger involved,” Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) told Axios, citing concerns for the safety of lawmakers and everyday Americans.

Read more about Democratic lawmakers' reactions here:

Trump Attorney Says She's 'Ashamed To Be A Lawyer'

Alina Habba, an attorney for Trump, said she was "ashamed to be a lawyer" following Trump's indictment.

Habba suggested the indictment was an attempt to distract voters from President Joe Biden, HuffPost's Lee Morán writes.

“What they do is they say, ‘Oh, look at this shiny ball, Jesse. Look at the shiny ball. Let’s go after Trump. Whatever you hear about the Bidens, don’t worry about it. Trump, Trump, Trump.’ It’s called Trump derangement syndrome and now it’s becoming so sick,” she said in a Fox News interview.

'Absolutely Historic': Legal Experts Explain The Stakes

Legal experts said Trump's indictment over mishandling of classified documents is a “good day for the rule of law,” historic and “a sad moment," HuffPost's Lee Morán reports.

Read more of their takes here:

Stephen Miller Makes Big Claim About Trump Indictment

Stephen Miller, who was a senior adviser in the Trump White House, said that history will judge the federal indictment of Trump as the day the U.S. "ceased to be a democratic republic," HuffPost's Ben Blanchet writes.

“I believe history will record today as the day that we cease to be a democratic republic and we became a people ruled by an unelected government bureaucracy," Miller said on Fox News.

Miller also said he hopes that Republicans, conservatives and “the whole of the country that cares about the rule of law” will coalesce around Trump.

Twitter users promptly criticized his take on things.

Trump Attorney Rages At Justice Department

Jim Trusty, a lawyer for Donald Trump, claimed that a prosecutor tried to "extort" an attorney to get a witness to cooperate in the documents investigation, and that he was emailed about it "from the guy who actually did the extortion," HuffPost's Ed Mazza writes.

"I think that was a cute little message from the DOJ that they're not going to worry about their own dirty house," Trusty told CNN.

Republicans Play Defense For Trump

HuffPost's Igor Bobic reports on the many prominent Republicans who rushed to defend the former president after news of the indictment broke:

Pence Is A No-Show For Sean Hannity Interview Following Indictment News

Former Vice President Mike Pence didn’t appear for his scheduled live interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Thursday night, just an hour and a half after news broke of the federal indictment against former President Donald Trump.

Pence was scheduled to appear on Hannity’s show at 9 p.m. ET to discuss his 2024 presidential campaign announcement, which he shared in a tweet that appears to be deleted from his account. A source told NBC News that Fox News and Pence’s team mutually decided to reschedule the interview since the Trump indictment was dominating the show’s conversations.

On Wednesday, Pence warned the Department of Justice against indicting Trump, stating that it "would only fuel further division in the country."

This was the last thing that the GOP candidate said on the matter. Pence had not issued a statement about the indictment as of late Thursday.

A Federal Trial Could Take Months To Begin

Trump is expected to voluntarily surrender in Miami on Tuesday and plead not guilty to federal charges. But it will likely be months before a trial would begin.

The hush-money case in Manhattan, in which Trump was indicted in April, won’t go to trial until next March. A federal case will likely take place on a similar timeline, as the long pretrial process will allow his attorneys to prepare a defense once he is arraigned.

The president is known for drawing out cases against him, Politico notes.

Trump Says He Will 'Of Course' Plead Not Guilty

Trump told Fox News on Thursday night that he will “of course” plead not guilty Tuesday to the charges in the classified documents case in a federal court in Miami, reiterating his earlier post on Truth Social that he is “totally innocent.”

Trump Attorney Says He Hasn’t Received A Copy Of The Indictment

One of the former president’s attorneys, Jim Trusty, told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins in an interview Thursday that Donald Trump’s charges were detailed in a sort of “summons” but that his legal team hasn’t yet received a copy of the indictment.

The document they did receive has wording that "suggests what the seven charges would be. Not 100% clear that all of those are separate charges, but they basically break out from an espionage act charge," he said.

"And several obstruction-based-type charges and then false statement charges, which are actually, again, kind of a crazy stretch just from the facts as we know it," Trusty added.

Ron DeSantis Calls Out Indictment: The 'Weaponization Of Federal Law Enforcement' Is A 'Mortal Threat'

Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis spoke out against his top contender’s indictment, warning in a tweet that the “weaponization of federal law enforcement represents a mortal threat to a free society.”

The Florida governor also said that there has been an “uneven application of the law” based on political affiliation, name-dropping 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and President Joe Biden’s son Hunter as examples.

Clinton was extensively investigated for her use of a personal e-mail server while she was secretary of state, but “no persuasive evidence of systemic, deliberate mishandling of classified information” was found. Meanwhile, Hunter Biden was recently investigated for allegedly failing to file his taxes in 2016 and 2017 and wrongfully claiming $30,000 in deductions for business-related expenses.

“Why so zealous in pursuing Trump yet so passive about Hillary or Hunter?” DeSantis said in his tweet.

He continued: “The DeSantis administration will bring accountability to the DOJ, excise political bias and end weaponization once and for all.”

Secret Service And Trump Team To Meet Friday

The U.S. Secret Service and members of Donald Trump’s staff will meet Friday to discuss details regarding his planned courthouse appearance Tuesday, according to NBC News, which cited a Secret Service official.

At his April indictment and arraignment in New York City in a hush-money case, Trump was accompanied by multiple Secret Service agents and was not handcuffed.

Democrats and Republicans Have A Lot To Say About Trump’s Indictment

In just a few short hours since news first broke of Trump’s indictment, Democratic and Republican lawmakers have a lot to say about the former president.

Some expressed support and sympathy for the former president after hearing of his indictment.

“Sad day for America. God Bless President Trump,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) tweeted.

When asked about Trump’s indictment, 2024 presidential candidate Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) told Fox News that he will “continue to pray that justice prevails.”

“We look at every case based on evidence in America,” Scott said, according to NBC News. “Every person is presumed innocent, not guilty, and what we’ve seen over the last several years is the weaponization of the Department of Justice against the former president.”

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) also spoke out in support of Trump — and dragged President Joe Biden’s name into it.

“It is unconscionable for a President to indict the leading candidate opposing him. Joe Biden kept classified documents for decades,” McCarthy tweeted.

He continued: “I, and every American who believes in the rule of law, stand with President Trump against this grave injustice. House Republicans will hold this brazen weaponization of power accountable.”

Meanwhile, GOP 2024 presidential candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson denounced Trump’s actions, emphasizing that the former president should end his campaign.

“While Donald Trump is entitled to the presumption of innocence, the ongoing criminal proceedings will be a major distraction,” Hutchinson said in the statement. “This reaffirms the need for Donald Trump to respect the office and end his campaign."

Others took it upon themselves to resurface the former president's dicey past, including his two impeachments and a prior indictment in New York.

“The former twice-impeached president is now twice-indicted,” Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) tweeted, referencing Trump’s indictment in March by the federal grand jury in New York City in connection with payments of hush money to Stormy Daniels just days before the 2016 presidential election.

"For four years, he acted like he was above the law. But he should be treated like any other lawbreaker. And today, he has been,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) tweeted.

Why Was Trump Indicted In Florida And Not Washington, D.C.?

The fact that the indictment was filed in U.S. District Court in Miami, not in Washington, D.C., where most of the investigation took place, is a notable shift. The New York Times reported that prosecutors are not able to choose any court they’d like to charge a defendant but rather must select the venue that has a strong connection to a case.

The specific charges Trump faces are under seal and won’t be made public until he is formally arraigned, but reports earlier this month that a grand jury had been convened in Florida signaled federal prosecutors were looking to try any case there. He is expected to surrender in Miami next Tuesday, according to multiple news outlets.

A pool of jurors from Washington would be more likely to include left-leaning members, while South Florida is more likely to have a pool that includes more Republicans, although lawyers will be able to conduct a screening to try to assemble an impartial group.

Law Enforcement Unaware Of Indictment

The U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Marshals Service were not given a heads-up that Trump would be indicted, CNN reported, citing law enforcement officials.

The law enforcement officials said they learned of the news when the twice-impeached, and now twice-indicted, former president posted the news online and now have to prepare for his Miami court appearance next week.

Trump's Son: 'Banana Republic'

Donald Trump Jr. took to Twitter to attack the DOJ over the indictment, calling it "revenge from the Deep State" and proof that "we're living in a 3rd world Banana Republic."

And while Biden has stayed silent on the special counsel's probes, Trump Jr. claimed the investigations are intended to prevent his father from winning reelection in 2024.

Key Things To Know

  • A federal grand jury has indicted Trump on criminal charges for removing top-secret documents from the White House, bringing them to his Mar-a-Lago social club in South Florida and refusing to return them.
  • On his Truth Social site, Trump declared: “I AM AN INNOCENT MAN!” and referred to the investigation as “the Boxes Hoax.”
  • This marks the second time Trump has been indicted. He was arrested and charged with 34 felony counts in April stemming from a hush money payment to the porn star Stormy Daniels in the days before the 2016 election.

Could Trump Run From Behind Bars? Yes.

The indictment raises the very real possibility that Trump could face prison time and the extreme -- but legally possible -- notion that the former president could run for office while behind bars.

A clear criminal record isn’t a requirement to run for president, only that a candidate be at least 35 years old and be a natural-born citizen who has lived in the U.S. for at least 14 years.

More than 100 years ago, socialist Eugene Debs ran from prison and received almost a million votes. Were Trump to actually be jailed and win reelection, the outcome would be unprecedented. But legal scholars generally think his obligations as president would outweigh a criminal conviction and put any sentence on hold.

Politico has more.

Trump’s Second Indictment

This is Trump’s second indictment in a little over two months. In late March, a Manhattan grand jury indicted the former president over his role in a $130,000 hush money payment made shortly before the 2016 election to porn star Stormy Daniels, who said she'd had an affair with Trump in the mid-2000s. He was arrested and charged days later.
Key Moment

Trump Faces Charges Of Obstruction And False Statements: Report

Trump is reportedly facing charges of conspiracy to obstruct, willful retention of documents and making false statements, The New York Times reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.

The indictment reportedly charges Trump on seven counts.

As the Times pointed out, conspiracy charges suggest that at least one other person is involved in an alleged attempt to mislead federal investigators.

Some Background On The Special Counsel Probe

Trump was indicted as part of an investigation by special counsel Jack Smith, whom U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed in November to take over two existing Justice Department probes concerning the former president. The investigation has focused on both Trump’s possession of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago residence as well as his refusal to return the records when asked.

Smith is simultaneously overseeing a DOJ investigation into Trump’s role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Trump Declares His Innocence

Trump released a video on his Truth Social site Thursday evening describing the indictment as "the boxes hoax."

"I'm an innocent man," he said. "I'm an innocent person."

Don't Expect A Biden Comment

The White House won't comment on the indictment, NBC News reports.

More details on Trump's indictment

HuffPost's S.V. Daté has more details on Trump's historic indictment. As Daté explains, the case stems from Trump removing classified documents from the White House and bringing them to his residence at the Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida.

More from Daté: "The Justice Department began its investigation based on a referral from the National Archives in early 2022, after archivists finally got Trump to return numerous boxes and found classified material within them. After months of negotiating, prosecutors sought and received a search warrant for Mar-a-Lago, which they executed in early August, leading to the discovery of 103 classified documents on Trump’s desk and in a number of storage boxes intermingled with his personal papers."

Read more here.

Trump Says He's Been Indicted

Former President Donald Trump said on his Truth Social site on Thursday evening that he's been indicted in an investigation of his handling of classified documents.

Read more here.

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