MIAMI (AP) — Former President Donald Trump is facing 37 felony charges related to the mishandling of classified documents, according to an indictment unsealed Friday that alleges that he described a Pentagon “plan of attack” and shared a classified map related to a military operation.
The 49-page charging document paints a damning portrait of Trump’s treatment of sensitive information, accusing him of willfully ignoring Justice Department demands to return documents he had taken from the White House to Mar-a-Lago and even directing aides to help him hide the records sought by the government.
The indictment marks the Justice Department’s first official confirmation of a criminal case against Trump arising from the retention of hundreds of documents at his Florida home, Mar-a-Lago.
Charged alongside with Trump was Walt Nauta, a Trump aide who was seen on surveillance camera removing boxes at Mar-a-Lago.
The indictment accuses Trump of having improperly removed scores of boxes from the White House to take them to Mar-a-Lago, many of them containing classified information.
It 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 after leaving office.
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 has faced, 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.