The 49-page federal indictment against former US President Donald Trump details a period spanning nearly two years, where he is accused not only of mishandling confidential material, but also taking steps to hide records and prevent investigations.
On January 20, 2021, as he left the White House, Trump ordered dozens of boxes stored at his Mar-a-Lago mansion in Florida. The boxes, packed by Trump and his White House staff, contain newspaper clippings, letters, photographs and other memorabilia from his time as president, but also hundreds of classified documents that, as a former president, he was not authorized to have. .
Under the Presidential Records Act, presidential records are considered federal property, not private, and must be turned over to the National Archives and Records Administration. Multiple federal laws govern the handling of classified and confidential documents, including statutes that make it a crime to remove the material and keep it in an unauthorized location.
After January 20, 2021, some boxes brought from the White House were stored in one of the Mar-a-Lago ballrooms. As a result, a federal indictment photo shows the boxes stacked on a stage.
Between March and April 2021, Trump and his team placed the boxes in the administrative rooms of the former president’s mansion. Some boxes were placed in the bedrooms and bathrooms, which explains the appearance of a dresser and trash can in the federal indictment images.
Trump ordered his employees to prepare a room in an accessible area on the ground floor of Mar-a-Lago so that it could be used as storage for his boxes. In addition, Trump instructed his workers to take some boxes to his summer residence in Bedminster, New Jersey.
Realizing that some documents from Trump’s presidency are missing, the National Archives has asked the former president to turn over any presidential records he may have kept upon leaving the White House. Following Trump’s failure to produce documents, the matter was referred to the Justice Department. After returning 15 boxes, the FBI decided to open an investigation on March 30, 2022, investigating both the behavior of Trump and his accomplice Walt Nauta. Inside the 15 boxes delivered by the former president’s team, there are 197 documents with classified marks, including 69 marked as confidential, 98 secret and 30 top secret.
The first batch of boxes obtained by the FBI contained 197 classified documents.
In mid-May and June 2022, the investigation began to take off. Nauta, Trump’s accomplice, was interviewed by the FBI, where he denied all the accusations imposed by the American institution. In early June, one of Trump’s lawyers returned to the Mar-a-Lago mansion where he obtained 38 more classified documents, 5 documents marked confidential, 16 marked secret, and 17 marked as top secret. All the documents were collected by the FBI, but they used a federal warrant to enter the mansion and collect all the boxes in the administrative room of the former president’s residence.
On August 8, 2022, the FBI began its search of Mar-a-Lago, obtaining 102 classified documents, 27 documents in Trump’s office, and three in his office drawers.
On June 8, a grand jury in Miami indicted Trump and Nauta for their part in the concealment of private documents. Trump denounced the allegation on his Truth Social platform, calling it “a dark day for the United States of America.” In a video, he expressed: “I am innocent and we will prove it very, very solidly and hopefully very quickly.”
On June 9, 2023, the accusation against Trump and his team was made public. The documents show that Trump is charged with 37 felony counts, including conspiracy to obstruct justice, corrupt concealment of a document or record and willful withholding of national defense information. Nauta is charged with six counts, including conspiracy to obstruct justice. Both accomplices are being tried in Miami, Florida, after the publication of the images of the famous boxes by the Department of Justice.