The Justice Department on Friday unveiled a 37-count indictment against former President Trump over his handling of classified materials after leaving the White House, offering up an expansive look at the evidence prosecutors collected.
The 49-page document provides significant insight into the nature of the classified documents Trump had kept since leaving the White House in January 2021, allegations about Trump’s moves to obstruct attempts to retrieve the documents and details about instances where Trump is said to have openly shared sensitive government secrets.
Here are five of the biggest revelations from the indictment:
Trump had documents with nuclear and military secrets
This image, contained in the indictment against former President Donald Trump, shows boxes of records stored in a bathroom and shower in the Lake Room at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. Trump is facing 37 felony charges related to the mishandling of classified documents according to an indictment unsealed Friday, June 9, 2023. (Justice Department via AP)
The indictment offers the most specific assessment to date of the kinds of documents Trump had in his possession, and prosecutors allege that among them were sensitive materials related to the United States’ nuclear program.
“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 filing states.
“The unauthorized disclosure of these classified documents could put at risk the national security of the United States, foreign relations, the safety of the United States military, and human sources and the continued viability of sensitive intelligence collection methods,” it continues.
The filing also cites a December 2021 incident where Trump aide Walt Nauta, who is also charged in the indictment, finds documents spilled on the floor of a Mar-a-Lago storage room. The documents were labeled “secret” and only releasable to members of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance of the U.S., Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand.
Trump pushed lawyers to help cover up
M. Evan Corcoran, an attorney for former President Donald Trump, arrives at federal court in Washington, Friday, March 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
The indictment details multiple incidents in which Trump pressured his lawyers to withhold documents from the government, including asking them to tell authorities he did not have them.
In another instance he suggested his attorney “hide or destroy” the documents that were being sought by a May 11 subpoena seeking the return of all classified records.
The filing also relies on notes obtained from Trump attorney Evan Corcoran, who had attorney-client privileges pierced in connection with the probe after a judge determined he may have been misled by Trump.
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Corcoran notes that Trump made a “plucking” motion when Corcoran was preparing to turn over 38 documents in response to the subpoena.
“He made a funny motion as though — well okay why don’t you take them with you to your hotel room and if there’s anything really bad in there, like, you know, pluck it out. And that was the motion he made. He didn’t say that,” Corcoran wrote.
The indictment details how Nauta moved 64 boxes of documents between a conversation about complying with the subpoena and the attorney’s June trip to sort through the records.
Trump showed sensitive documents to others at least twice
People play golf next to the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster’s clubhouse in Bedminister on Friday, June 9 , 2023, in New Jersey. Former President Donald Trump has been indicted on charges of mishandling classified documents at his Florida estate. The remarkable development makes him the first former president in U.S. history to face criminal charges by the federal government that he once oversaw. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
The filing details two specific instances where Trump is alleged to have shared highly sensitive materials with individuals at his Bedminster, N.J., club who did not have security clearances.
The first came in July 2021, when Trump is said to have shown and described a “plan of attack” prepared for him by Pentagon officials while in the White House. The meeting, which was with a writer, publisher and two staff members, was recorded. None of the other individuals present had security clearances.
The indictment contains a transcript of the conversation between Trump and a staffer in which he describes the document as “secret information.”
“See as president I could have declassified it. Now I can’t, you know, but this is still a secret,” Trump tells the staffer.
“Yeah. Now we have a problem,” the staffer responds with a laugh.
The filing also details a second incident in August or September of 2021 in which Trump showed a representative of his political action committee who did not possess a security clearance a classified map related to a military operation.
Trump is said to have told the associate during the meeting at Bedminster club that he should not be showing it to the person and that they should not get too close.
Documents were stored across Mar-a-Lago
This image, contained in the indictment against former President Donald Trump, shows boxes of records in a storage room at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., that were photographed on Nov. 12, 2021. Trump is facing 37 felony charges related to the mishandling of classified documents according to an indictment unsealed Friday, June 9, 2023. (Justice Department via AP)
The indictment states that Trump stored the documents in various locations at Mar-a-Lago following the end of his presidency and moved on multiple occasions.
Some of the boxes containing documents that Trump had taken were initially stored at the property’s Gold and White Ballroom, where major events often happened, between January and March 15, 2021. At one point, the boxes were stacked on the ballroom’s stage.
Nauta and other Trump staff members then moved the boxes to the business center. A text conversation between two Trump employees included in the court documents reveals that one employee said Trump specifically asked them to be moved to the business center because they were his papers.
Some boxes were transported from the business center, which some staff wanted to use as an office, to a bathroom and shower in the property’s Lake Room.
The indictment states that Trump had a storage room on the ground floor cleaned out in May 2021 so it could store the boxes. The boxes in the Lake Room were taken there the next month. Prosecutors noted that the hallway leading to storage room could be reached “from multiple outside entrances.”
“The Mar-a-Lago Club was not an authorized location for the storage, possession, review, display, or discussion of classified documents. Nevertheless, TRUMP stored his boxes containing classified documents in various locations at The Mar-a-Lago-Club—including in a ballroom, a bathroom and shower, an office space, his bedroom, and a storage room,” the indictment states.
The filing says that during the August search of Mar-a-Lago, authorities seized 27 classified documents from Trump’s office and 75 classified documents from the storage room. Of those 102 documents, 17 were labeled “top secret.”
Trump was told he was a target of investigation on May 19
Special counsel Jack Smith speaks to reporters Friday, June 9, 2023, in Washington. Former President Donald Trump is facing 37 felony charges related to the mishandling of classified documents according to an indictment unsealed on Friday. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Outside of the indictment itself, new court filings reveal a timeline of the final days of special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation.
The special counsel’s office informed Trump that he was a target in the grand jury’s investigation on May 19, roughly three weeks before jurors voted to indict him.
Nauta was similarly informed he was a target on May 24, according to the documents.
Just ahead of the indictment, Trump declined to respond directly when asked by The New York Times if he had been identified as a target.
The grand jury returned the indictment on Thursday, and prosecutors earlier on Friday requested it to be unsealed.
Trump and Nauta are set to make their first court appearance on Tuesday at 3 p.m. Eastern in the Wilkie D. Ferguson Building in Miami.