The move, first reported by The Guardian, reflects a major uptick in the inquiry and comes amid reports that Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith is nearly finished collecting testimony and evidence in the case. Prosecutors are also using a grand jury in Florida in their investigation as those in the Trump camp fear charges against the former president could be imminent.
The developments only add to Trump’s legal peril after government officials recovered hundreds of classified files from his Mar-a-Lago resort and residence in Florida more than a year after he left the White House. Prosecutors are investigating if Trump attempted to obstruct the government’s efforts to obtain those documents, an effort that took months before a shocking search of the property by the FBI on Aug. 8, 2022.
Trump hinted in recent days that he thought he may be close to being charged in the case, and three of his lawyers met with Justice Department officials on Monday in an apparent last-minute attempt to express concerns about the investigation.
The former president responded to the reports with fury on Wednesday, telling The New York Times he has not directly communicated with Justice Department prosecutors and that it wasn’t “true” he had been told he would be indicted.
“No one has told me I’m being indicted,” he wrote on his Truth Social platform. “And I shouldn’t be because I’ve done NOTHING wrong, but I have assumed for years that I am a Target of the WEAPONIZED DOJ & FBI.”
Trump has maintained he had the right to take the files with him under the Presidential Records Act, claiming he had a standing order to declassify anything he removed from the Oval Office. During a CNN town hall-style event last month, he added that when his presidency ended, boxes of files were “lined up on the sidewalk” and “everybody knew we were taking” them.
But federal prosecutors have reportedly obtained a recording of the former president discussing a sensitive military document he said he took with him in which he indicated he knew it was secret. The tape could undermine his claims and provide fuel to the investigation.