Trump charged over handling of classified documents
Former President Donald Trump has been charged with mishandling hundreds of classified documents, including about US nuclear secrets and military plans.
The 37-count indictment accuses him of keeping the files at his Florida estate, including in a ballroom and a shower, and lying to investigators.
It alleges he then tried to obstruct the investigation into the handling of the documents.
Trump, who is running for president again in 2024, denies any wrongdoing.
Charges have also been filed against Walt Nauta, a personal aide to Trump. The former White House military valet is accused of moving files to hide them from the FBI.
The 49-page indictment contains the first-ever federal charges against a former US president. It says the classified documents Trump stored in his boxes contained information about:
- United States nuclear programmes
- Defence and weapons capabilities of both the United States and foreign countries
- Potential vulnerabilities of the United States and its allies to military attack
- Plans for possible retaliation in response to a foreign attack
Prosecutors say that when Mr Trump left office, he took about 300 classified files to Mar-a-Lago – his oceanfront home in Palm Beach, which is also an expansive private members’ club.
The charge sheet notes that Mar-a-Lago hosted events for tens of thousands of members and guests, including in a ballroom where documents were found.
Prosecutors say Trump tried to obstruct the FBI inquiry into the missing documents by suggesting that his lawyer “hide or destroy” them, or tell investigators he did not have them.
“Wouldn’t it be better if we just told them we don’t have anything here?” Trump said to one of his attorneys, according to the indictment.
Trump’s first court appearance in the case will be in Miami, Florida, on Tuesday – the eve of his 77th birthday.
Mar-a-Lago “was not an authorised location” for classified documents to be kept or discussed, the indictment says.
Some files were allegedly stored on stage in the ballroom, where events and gatherings took place – and later in a bathroom and a shower, an office space, and Trump’s bedroom.
On two occasions in 2021, the former president showed classified documents to people without security clearance, including a writer and two members of staff. (BBC)