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Trump Indicted in Classified Docs Case 06/09 06:09

   Donald Trump has been indicted on charges of mishandling classified 
documents at his Florida estate, a remarkable development that makes him the 
first former president in U.S. history to face criminal charges by the federal 
government that he once oversaw.

   MIAMI (AP) -- Donald Trump has been indicted on charges of mishandling 
classified documents at his Florida estate, a remarkable development that makes 
him the first former president in U.S. history to face criminal charges by the 
federal government that he once oversaw.

   The Justice Department was expected to make public a seven-count indictment 
ahead of a historic court appearance next week in the midst of a 2024 
presidential campaign punctuated by criminal prosecutions in multiple states.

   The indictment carries unmistakably grave legal consequences, including the 
possibility of prison if Trump's convicted.

   But it also has enormous political implications, potentially upending a 
Republican presidential primary that Trump had been dominating and testing anew 
the willingness of GOP voters and party leaders to stick with a now 
twice-indicted candidate who could face still more charges. And it sets the 
stage for a sensational trial centered on claims that a man once entrusted to 
safeguard the nation's most closely guarded secrets willfully, and illegally, 
hoarded sensitive national security information.

   The Justice Department did not immediately confirm the indictment publicly. 
But two people familiar with the situation who were not authorized to discuss 
it publicly said that the indictment included seven criminal counts. One of 
those people said Trump's lawyers were contacted by prosecutors shortly before 
he announced Thursday on his Truth Social platform that he had been indicted.

   Within minutes of his announcement, Trump, who said he was due in court 
Tuesday afternoon in Miami, began fundraising off it for his presidential 
campaign. He declared his innocence in a video and repeated his familiar 
refrain that the investigation is a "witch hunt."

   The case adds to deepening legal jeopardy for Trump, who has already been 
indicted in New York and faces additional investigations in Washington and 
Atlanta that also could lead to criminal charges. But among the various 
investigations he faces, legal experts -- as well as Trump's own aides -- had 
long seen the Mar-a-Lago probe as the most perilous threat and the one most 
ripe for prosecution. Campaign aides had been bracing for the fallout since 
Trump's attorneys were notified that he was the target of the investigation, 
assuming it was not a matter of if charges would be brought, but when.

   Appearing Thursday night on CNN, Trump attorney James Trusty said the 
indictment includes charges of willful retention of national defense 
information -- a crime under the Espionage Act, which polices the handling of 
government secrets -- obstruction, false statements and conspiracy.

   The inquiry took a major step forward last November when Attorney General 
Merrick Garland, a soft-spoken former federal judge who has long stated that no 
one person should be regarded as above the law, appointed Jack Smith, a war 
crimes prosecutor with an aggressive, hard-charging reputation to lead both the 
documents probe as well as a separate investigation into efforts to subvert the 
2020 election.

   The case is a milestone for a Justice Department that had investigated Trump 
for years -- as president and private citizen -- but had never before charged 
him with a crime. The most notable investigation was an earlier special counsel 
probe into ties between his 2016 campaign and Russia, but prosecutors in that 
probe cited Justice Department policy against indicting a sitting president. 
Once he left office, though, he lost that protection.

   The indictment arises from a monthslong investigation into whether Trump 
broke the law by holding onto hundreds of documents marked classified at his 
Palm Beach property, Mar-a-Lago, and whether Trump took steps to obstruct the 
government's efforts to recover the records.

   Prosecutors have said that Trump took roughly 300 classified documents to 
Mar-a-Lago after leaving the White House, including some 100 that were seized 
by the FBI last August in a search of the home that underscored the gravity of 
the Justice Department's investigation. Trump has repeatedly insisted that he 
was entitled to keep the classified documents when he left the White House, and 
has also claimed without evidence that he had declassified them.

   Court records unsealed last year showed federal investigators believed they 
had probable cause that multiple crimes had been committed, including the 
retention of national defense information, destruction of government records 
and obstruction.

   Since then, the Justice Department has amassed additional evidence and 
secured grand jury testimony from people close to Trump, including his own 
lawyers. The statutes governing the handling of classified records and 
obstruction are felonies that could carry years in prison in the event of a 

   Even so, it remains unclear how much it will damage Trump's standing given 
that his first indictment generated millions of dollars in contributions from 
angry supporters and didn't weaken him in the polls.

   The former president has long sought to use his legal troubles to his 
political advantage, complaining on social media and at public events that the 
cases are being driven by Democratic prosecutors out to hurt his 2024 election 
campaign. He is likely to rely on that playbook again, reviving his 
longstanding claims that the Justice Department -- which, during his 
presidency, investigated whether his 2016 campaign had colluded with Russia -- 
is somehow weaponized against him.

   Trump's legal troubles extend beyond the New York indictment and classified 
documents case.

   Smith is separately investigating efforts by Trump and his allies to 
overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. And the district 
attorney in Georgia's Fulton County is investigating Trump over alleged efforts 
to subvert the 2020 election in that state.

   Signs had mounted for weeks that an indictment was near, including a Monday 
meeting between Trump's lawyers and Justice Department officials. His lawyers 
had also recently been notified that he was the target of the investigation, 
the clearest sign yet that an indictment was looming.

   Though the bulk of the investigative work had been handled in Washington, 
with a grand jury meeting there for months, it recently emerged that 
prosecutors were presenting evidence before a separate panel in Florida, where 
many of the alleged acts of obstruction scrutinized by prosecutors took place.

   The Justice Department has said Trump repeatedly resisted efforts by the 
National Archives and Records Administration to get the documents back. After 
months of back-and-forth, Trump representatives returned 15 boxes of records in 
January 2022, including about 184 documents that officials said had classified 
markings on them.

   FBI and Justice Department investigators issued a subpoena in May 2022 for 
classified documents that remained in Trump's possession. But after a Trump 
lawyer provided three dozen records and asserted that a diligent search of the 
property had been done, officials came to suspect even more documents remained.

   The investigation had simmered for months before bursting into front-page 
news in remarkable fashion last August. That's when FBI agents served a search 
warrant on Mar-a-Lago and removed 33 boxes containing classified records, 
including top-secret documents stashed in a storage room and desk drawer and 
commingled with personal belongings. Some records were so sensitive that 
investigators needed upgraded security clearances to review them, the Justice 
Department has said.

   The investigation into Trump had appeared complicated -- politically, if not 
legally -- by the discovery of documents with classified markings in the 
Delaware home and former Washington office of President Joe Biden, as well as 
in the Indiana home of former Vice President Mike Pence. The Justice Department 
recently informed Pence that he would not face charges, while a second special 
counsel continues to investigate Biden's handling of classified documents.

   But compared with Trump, there are key differences in the facts and legal 
issues surrounding Biden's and Pence's handling of documents, including that 
representatives for both men say the documents were voluntarily turned over to 
investigators as soon as they were found. In contrast, investigators quickly 
zeroed on whether Trump, who for four years as president expressed disdain for 
the FBI and Justice Department, had sought to obstruct the inquiry by refusing 
to turn over all the requested documents.

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