WASHINGTON ― Former President Donald Trump has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges stemming from his removal of top-secret documents from the White House to his Mar-a-Lago social club in South Florida and his refusal to return them, even in defiance of a subpoena.
The coup-attempting former president announced the news himself on his Truth Social media platform Thursday evening in a three-part post.
“I have been summoned to appear at the Federal Courthouse in Miami on Tuesday, at 3 PM. I never thought it possible that such a thing could happen to a former President of the United States, who received far more votes than any sitting President in the History of our Country, and is currently leading, by far, all Candidates, both Democrat and Republican, in Polls of the 2024 Presidential Election. I AM AN INNOCENT MAN!” Trump wrote. “This is indeed a DARK DAY for the United States of America. We are a Country in serious and rapid Decline, but together we will Make America Great Again!”
The indictment was under seal, but news reports said there are multiple counts, which range from willful retention of national defense information to conspiracy. Typically, a federal indictment becomes public at the time of arraignment.
Trump has repeatedly claimed that the documents belong to him, even though they were official papers generated as a result of his role as president and commander in chief.
During a CNN “town hall” appearance that the network hosted for him in last month, Trump claimed he had every right to take whatever documents he wanted when he left the White House, and that the mere fact of his taking them made it OK for him to keep them at his home.
“I have the absolute right to do whatever I want with them. I have the right,” he said, refusing to give a definite answer about whether he’d shown the documents to anybody. “And, by the way, they become automatically declassified when I took them.”
Recently, however, Trump has posted agitated statements on his social media platform, some in all capital letters, complaining about the expected indictment, the Department of Justice, President Joe Biden’s own handling of documents, Hillary Clinton’s digital communications while secretary of state, and more.
“HOW CAN DOJ POSSIBLY CHARGE ME, WHO DID NOTHING WRONG, WHEN NO OTHER PRESIDENT’S WERE CHARGED, WHEN JOE BIDEN WON’T BE CHARGED FOR ANYTHING,” Trump wrote in a Truth Social post on June 5.
“CROOKED HILLARY DELETED 33,000 EMAILS ... AND WASN’T EVEN CLOSE TO BEING CHARGED! ONLY TRUMP - THE GREATEST WITCH HUNT OF ALL TIME!”
Within minutes of Trump’s announcement that he had been indicted came the first fundraising email from his campaign attempting to raise money off his latest legal trouble.
“Please make a contribution to peacefully stand with me today and prove that YOU will NEVER surrender our country to the radical Left – for 1,500% impact,” he wrote in an email with the subject line: “BREAKING: INDICTED.”
Trump then posted a four-minute video in which he repeated his lies about a “stolen” election ― “did much better the second time than the first” ― and went into his familiar litany of grievances about the various investigations into him over the past five years. “I’m innocent, and we’re going to prove that very, very, soundly, and hopefully very quickly.
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 a number of storage boxes intermingled with his personal papers.
Trump went to court to prevent the use of that material against him, but thus far has not had success.
Recent news reports revealed that a key piece of evidence in the case against Trump may be his own voice — specifically, a tape of his discussion with ghostwriters for former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
In the recording, Trump reportedly said that he knew a document he had with him was still secret and that he did not have the right to show it to people.
For much of last autumn and this past winter, Trump rarely left his Palm Beach property other than to play golf on the mainland side of the Intracoastal Waterway at his course near the county jail. He even staged his announcement that he was running for the 2024 presidential nomination there last November. More recently, though, he has started making more campaign trips, primarily to states that hold early primaries and caucuses.
He is scheduled to appear Saturday night at the North Carolina Republican Party’s state convention.
Trump is also under investigation by the Justice Department for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, coup attempt, including the scheme to submit to the National Archives fraudulent slates of electors from states that voted for Biden as a way to pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence to award Trump a second term.
In addition to the federal criminal investigations, a Georgia prosecutor is looking at Trump and his allies’ attempts to coerce state officials into falsely declaring him the winner in that state in 2020.
And Trump this spring was indicted by the Manhattan district attorney on felony charges of falsifying business records to hide a $130,000 hush money payment that he made to an adult film star just days before the 2016 election. Trump pleaded not guilty to the charges, and a trial is set for December.