US judiciary: Indictment published: Serious allegations against Trump

US Justice
Indictment published: Serious allegations against Trump

Boxes of papers stand in a storage room at former US President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. photo

© Uncredited/Justice Department/AP/dpa

After the first ever indictment against a former US president, now follows the first federal indictment against a former president. The indictment contains explosive details.

The US judiciary has made serious allegations against former US President Donald Trump in the affair of secret government documents. The 49-page indictment against the Republican presidential candidate was released on Friday. A total of seven categories of offenses are listed, with Trump being charged with more than 35 criminal offenses. He is accused of, among other things, conspiracy to obstruct investigations and unlawful retention of highly sensitive information, including details of US and foreign nuclear capabilities and US military contingency plans.

The background is the affair surrounding Trump’s handling of secret government documents after he left the White House. The federal police FBI had searched his private home Mar-a-Lago in Florida in August and confiscated various classified information, some with the highest classification level. Because the Republican kept the documents in his private home long after he left the presidency, he could have committed a criminal offense.

Classified information in bathroom, bedroom and shower

After the change of power, Trump had no authority to possess or keep secret government documents, according to the indictment. His Mar-a-Lago property was not an approved place to store the records. Trump kept boxes of classified information in his bedroom, a bathroom, a shower, a ballroom and a storage room, among other things. Some of the boxes of intelligence documents were temporarily stored in a room where public events were held. A storage room for documents with more than 80 boxes was easily accessible via a public pool area in Mar-a-Lago.

Among other things, Trump is accused of intentionally storing national defense information. This point falls under the US espionage law and alone can be punished with up to ten years in prison. According to the indictment, documents found on Trump dealt, among other things, with the defense capabilities of the USA and other countries, including nuclear weapons, and with military weaknesses in the defense of the USA and its partners. It was also about potential military options for states that were not mentioned and, in some cases, the associated consequences for the USA. Other documents discussed foreign support for terrorist attacks on the United States and “the timing and details of the attack in a foreign country.”

Chatted about highly confidential documents

The investigators also detail in the indictment how Trump spoke to other people about the information, some of which was top secret, or showed it to third parties. A sound recording documents a meeting between Trump and a writer for an interview. Trump said he found a “highly confidential” document detailing the US military’s plan to attack a country whose name is omitted from the text. According to the transcript of the recording, Trump said a short time later: “This is classified information. Look, look at it.” None of those present were authorized to read the top-secret paper.

According to the indictment, Trump actively tried to obstruct the investigation against him. To this end, he conspired with his personal assistant, Walt Nauta, against whom charges were also brought. Among other things, Trump instructed the employee to take boxes elsewhere. He is said to have suggested to a lawyer to hide or destroy documents. Trump is said to have talked to his lawyers about the secret documents in May 2022 – i.e. before the FBI searched his property. He is said to have said: “Wouldn’t it be better if we just told them that we don’t have anything here?” and “Isn’t it better if there are no documents?”

Efficient procedure sought

After Trump officially announced in November that he would run again in the 2024 election, the Justice Department used independent special counsel Jack Smith to outsource the politically sensitive investigation into Trump. Smith promised a speedy trial in Washington Friday and urged the public to read the full indictment to understand the scope and seriousness of the crimes.

It is the first time a federal indictment has been filed against a former US President. Trump had already been charged at the state level in New York in April in connection with hush money payments to a porn star. In a civil proceeding a few weeks ago, he was held responsible for a sexual assault in court. So far, the allegations in connection with the documents have weighed the most heavily from a legal point of view.

However, other cases are being investigated against Trump in connection with his attempts to overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. So further charges could possibly follow – and they could also be dangerous for him.

The unprecedented indictment comes in the midst of the already fraught 2024 presidential election campaign and will once again test US democracy. In polls, Trump is far ahead in the field of Republican presidential candidates. He sees the charges against him as “election interference at the highest level” and “waging war” with legal means.


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