DOJ reportedly informs Trump he's a target of criminal investigation, suggesting indictment

Federal prosecutors have recently sent former President Donald Trump and his lawyers a letter informing the former president he's the target of a criminal investigation involving his handling of classified documents, several major news organizations reported Wednesday evening. Such "target letters" are usually sent to people about to be indicted, giving them a chance to plead their case to prosecutors or a grand jury.

It is possible special counsel Jack Smith will not charge Trump in the documents case, but the target letter, a meeting Monday with Trump's lawyers, and a recent flurry of witnesses appearing before two grand juries — one in Washington, D.C., and another in Miami that started meeting last month — "have signaled that Smith's probe was nearing a likely charging decision, which now appears days, if not hours, away," Politico reported. Former Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich appeared before the Miami grand jury on Wednesday.

Aides and advisers to Trump spent Wednesday "in a state of high tension," especially after conservative journalist and former Trump National Archives liaison John Solomon reported that prosecutors were moving to indict Trump "imminently," The New York Times said. Trump told the Times and also wrote on social media that nobody had told him he is being indicted, but he declined to say if he was told he's a target of the investigation.

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If prosecutors do charge Trump in the documents case, "it remains an open question" whether Smith's team "would file an indictment in Washington, Miami or both cities," the Times reported. "While many of the central events in the documents inquiry occurred in Florida — perhaps most notably the search of Mar-a-Lago last summer — the case was opened by national security prosecutors working out of the Justice Department in Washington."

Because "the bulk of the conduct at issue in the investigation" occurred in South Florida, Smith's team is now "planning to bring a significant portion of any charges" in Miami, The Washington Post reported. "That approach by prosecutors does not rule out the possibility of some charges, such as perjury or false statements, being filed in Washington," however. Along with aligning the venue with the scene of any alleged crimes, The Wall Street Journal added, "bringing a case in Florida would help avoid arguments from Trump's lawyers he would be deprived a fair trial by Washington jurors, whom they perceive as skewing Democratic."

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.