Trump told he could face charges over classified Mar-a-Lago documents

A second criminal indictment is on the cards for the former US president and current Republican frontrunner

Donald Trump
Around 100 classified documents were found at Trump’s Florida home last year
(Image credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Donald Trump is the target of a criminal investigation over the potential mishandling of classified files after his departure from the White House.

The former US president’s legal team have been sent a letter by federal prosecutors from the office of special counsel Jack Smith – “the clearest signal yet that the former president is likely to face charges in the investigation”, said to The New York Times.

Since last year, prosecutors have been examining the transfer of files from the White House to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. Last August, the FBI seized about 11,000 documents, some of which were marked as classified and top secret, from his home.

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The New York Times said Trump’s lawyers held a meeting with Smith and other Department of Justice (DoJ) officials for nearly two hours on Monday. Sources close to Trump referred to the meeting as “a final effort to stave off charges”. The paper added that Trump has so far denied being informed of an impending indictment, calling the reports “not true”.

When questioned directly by the paper about whether he had been notified of being a target in the federal investigation, Trump responded that “you have to understand” that he was not in direct contact with the prosecutors.

The Independent said that the DoJ is preparing to approach grand jurors for approval to indict Trump for violating Section 793 of the US criminal code. This section prohibits the “gathering, transmitting, or losing” of any “information respecting the national defense”.

The use of this law is believed to be a “strategic decision” by prosecutors. They are keen to pre-empt any claim by Trump that as president, he possessed the authority to declassify the documents he removed from the White House and subsequently retained at his Palm Beach residence.

If Trump were to be indicted, it would be the second time that criminal charges have been brought against him. In April he pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records concerning hush-money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels prior to the 2016 election. He faces trial in New York over the case next year.

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 Sorcha Bradley is a writer at The Week and a regular on “The Week Unwrapped” podcast. She worked at The Week magazine for a year and a half before taking up her current role with the digital team, where she mostly covers UK current affairs and politics. Before joining The Week, Sorcha worked at slow-news start-up Tortoise Media. She has also written for Sky News, The Sunday Times, the London Evening Standard and Grazia magazine, among other publications. She has a master’s in newspaper journalism from City, University of London, where she specialised in political journalism.