The latest on the indictment of former President Donald Trump:
Sen. Mitt Romney questions Trump’s claims over classified documents
Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney told reporters he is “increasingly angry” over former President Donald Trump’s decision to keep classified documents after he was asked to return them, according to Bloomberg News.
“The country is going to go through angst and turmoil. And that could have been avoided if President Trump had just turned in the documents when he was asked to do so,” he said on Tuesday.
“This was entirely avoidable if he had just turned in the documents, why didn’t he?”
On Wednesday, CNN reported that Romney responded to questions about Trump’s claims that he was allowed to keep classified documents after leaving office by questioning Trump’s tactics.
“If you’re surprised by Donald Trump and something he says, I’d be shocked,” Romney said. “That’s his MO, which is to say something challenging, outrageous, surprising and see if we can get people to look at it. This is something that’s gonna be resolved over time, we have to decide who we want to have lead our country in a very critical time.”
“He has the right to defend himself and put out real or unreal arguments,” he said.
Trump calls charges against him ‘election interference’
Tuesday, June 14
Trump arrived at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, late Tuesday where he delivered remarks after being arraigned earlier in the day.
“Suspicious Minds” by Elvis Presley played as his car rolled in. Trump began by calling the charges “election interference.”
“Very sad thing to watch, a corrupt sitting president had his top political opponent arrested on fake and fabricated charges of which he and numerous other presidents would be guilty, right in the middle of a presidential election in which he’s losing very badly.”
He also previewed the argument that his lawyers will use in the case against him — that under the Presidential Records Act, he had the right to keep the documents, as The New York Times reported.
Trump said that he had the boxes because they contained “all types of personal belongings.” He also argued that Democrats, like President Joe Biden, former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, had also done the same.
Earlier in the day, after the court proceedings, Trump made a quick pitstop at a restaurant in Little Havana, a Cuban neighborhood in Miami, where his supporters prayed for him and sang “Happy Birthday” to him ahead of his 77th birthday on June 14.
He interacted with his supporters but didn’t eat, before departing for New Jersey.
Trump arrested, arraigned
Tuesday, June 13
At a federal courthouse in Miami Tuesday, Trump pleaded not guilty to 37 felony counts related to his handling of classified documents. His arraignment came after he was arrested at the courthouse by U.S. Marshals, according to CNN.
Trump took to Truth Social earlier in the day to express his feelings about the charges.
“ONE OF THE SADDEST DAYS IN THE HISTORY OF OUR COUNTRY,” he said. “WE ARE A NATION IN DECLINE!!!”
The scene outside the courtroom appeared tame, with Miami Police Chief Manny Morales stating that no incidents have been reported. Both pro-Trump and anti-Trump protesters were present.
“We’re just kind of monitoring the traffic and we’re getting in the crowd and we’re looking for individuals that might be trying to agitate other parties and we’re just keeping them separate,” Morales told CNN.
Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, told reporters that Trump didn’t have his mugshot taken.
“President Trump is in a very unique position where he does not need to be given a mug shot, obviously,” she said, per The New York Times. “He’s not a flight risk. He is the leading candidate of the G.O.P. at the moment. He is going through a process that has been coordinated with the Secret Service, and it will all be handled seamlessly.”
5 things to know before Trump’s arraignment
Tuesday, June 13
- What are the charges against Trump?: The first 31 charges against Trump are for willfully retaining classified documents and failing to hand them over, according to the indictment.
- Where were the classified documents stored?: These documents were stored in “a ballroom, a bathroom and shower, an office space, his bedroom, and a storage room.”
- Trump’s problem finding a lawyer: The New York Times reported that some of the charges stem from information found in notes made by one of Trump’s attorneys, M. Evan Corcoran.
- Trump showed the classified documents twice: The indictment provides two accounts of Trump allegedly sharing classified documents.
- Trump’s supporters set to protest: On Sunday, Trump made an appearance on a radio show hosted by his former aide, Roger Stone, encouraging his supporters to “protest peacefully.”
“We need strength at this point. Everyone is afraid to do anything. They’re afraid to talk. They have to go out and protest peacefully,” Trump said.
Read more here.
Can Trump run for president while being indicted?
Friday, June 9
Former President Donald Trump can run for president, even though he faces charges for mishandling classified documents. A presidential candidate needs to fulfill three eligibility requirements to run. The candidate must be:
- A natural-born citizen of the United States.
- At least 35 years old.
- A resident of the United States for 14 years.
Chris Edelson, an assistant professor at American University who specializes in presidential power, told Axios that Trump’s indictments, and possible convictions, do not disqualify him from running again.
“The clearest path to disqualifying Donald Trump running for office would have been if the Senate had convicted him in one or both of the impeachments,” Edelson said.
For example, in 1920, Eugene V. Debs ran for president from prison after unlawfully protesting the draft in World War I.
More recently, Joe Exotic, famous for his docuseries “Tiger King,” announced he is running for president as a libertarian while serving a 21-year prison sentence, as reported by the Deseret News.
Special counsel unseals the indictment
Friday, June 9
Special counsel Jack Smith unsealed the indictment against Trump, who is set to be arraigned on Tuesday. The 49-page indictment hits Trump with 37 counts for willfully keeping classified documents after leaving office, according to ABC News.
“Our laws that protect national defense information are critical to the safety and security of the United States, and they must be enforced,” Smith said at a news conference, defending the integrity of the investigation, per CNN. “Violations of those laws put our country at risk.”
The documents included nuclear secrets and the defense capabilities of the country, the indictment says. The indictment says that Trump stored the classified documents in various locations at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, “including in a ballroom, a bathroom and shower, an office space, his bedroom, and a storage room.”
“In January 2021, as he was preparing to leave the White House, Trump and his White House staff, including Nauta, packed items, including some of Trump’s boxes. Trump was personally involved in this process,” the indictment states. “Trump caused his boxes, containing hundreds of classified documents, to be transported from the White House to The Mar-a-Lago Club”
It says that Trump showed these documents to others on two instances in 2021. It also notes a text exchange between two employees, where one employee asked another if Trump’s boxes could be moved to make room in the staff office.
“Woah !!Ok so potus specifically asked Walt for those boxes to be in the business center because they are his papers,” the second employee said, later stating that the boxes could be moved to the “lake room.”
Trump’s aide was also indicted
Friday, June 9
Walt Nauta, an aide to Trump, has also been indicted in special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation surrounding the classified documents.
Trump responded to the charges on Truth Social, saying that Nauta is “a member of the U.S. Navy, who served proudly with me in the White House, retired as Senior Chief, and then transitioned into private life as a personal aide.”
He said that Nauta has “done a fantastic job” and that the Biden administration is “trying to destroy his life.”
The indictment says that Nauta moved the boxes of classified material “to conceal them from Trump’s attorney, the FBI, and the grand jury.” He was labeled a co-conspirator in the indictment.
2024 GOP presidential candidates respond to Trump’s indictment
Friday, June 9
Former Vice President Mike Pence said that he is “deeply troubled” by Trump’s indictment in an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt, according to Politico.
“Yesterday on the road in Iowa, I had said I had hoped that the DOJ would see its way clearer not to move forward here. But let me be very clear: No one is above the law,” he said.
In January, Pence’s lawyers turned over dozens of classified documents found at his home in Indiana to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as the Deseret News reported.
Pence announced his bid for president on Wednesday.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Trump’s top rival for the presidential election, took to Twitter and said: “The weaponization of federal law enforcement represents a mortal threat to a free society.”
“We have for years witnessed an uneven application of the law depending upon political affiliation,” he said. “Why so zealous in pursuing Trump yet so passive about Hillary or Hunter?”
He promised that if elected, his administration would hold the Department of Justice accountable for exercising political bias.
The weaponization of federal law enforcement represents a mortal threat to a free society.— Ron DeSantis (@RonDeSantis) June 9, 2023
We have for years witnessed an uneven application of the law depending upon political affiliation.
Why so zealous in pursuing Trump yet so passive about Hillary or Hunter?
Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, who is also in the running for president as a Republican candidate, took to Twitter to respond to Trump’s indictment.
“This is not how justice should be pursued in our country,” she said. “The American people are exhausted by the prosecutorial overreach, double standards, and vendetta politics. It’s time to move beyond the endless drama and distractions.”
Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, another GOP candidate for 2024, also criticized the DOJ for being hypocritical for choosing to “selectively prosecute Trump but not Biden” in a tweet.
“It would be much easier for me to win this election if Trump weren’t in the race, but I stand for principles over politics,” he posted. “I commit to pardon Trump promptly on January 20, 2025 and to restore the rule of law in our country.”
We can’t have two tiers of justice: one for Trump, another for Biden. One for Assange, another for Manning. One for BLM/Antifa, another for peaceful protesters on Jan 6.— Vivek Ramaswamy (@VivekGRamaswamy) June 9, 2023
I never thought we’d see the day when the U.S. President deputizes the DOJ to arrest his lead rival in the…
Trump makes changes to his legal team
Friday, June 9
On Friday morning, Trump made changes to his legal team. He said that he will now be represented by Todd Blanche, with “a firm to be named later.”
Trump was previously represented by Jim Trusty and John Rowley. They released a joint statement regarding the change, according to CNBC.
“This morning we tendered our resignations as counsel to President Trump, and we will no longer represent him on either the indicted case or the January 6 investigation,” the statement said.
They said that Trump “will be vindicated in his battle against the Biden administration’s partisan weaponization of the American justice system.”
“Now that the case has been filed in Miami, this is a logical moment for us to step aside and let others carry the cases through to completion,” they wrote.
Trump said that additional lawyers will be added to his legal team in the coming days.
Trump social media post says he’s been indicted
Thursday, June 8
Former President Donald Trump says he’s been indicted over his handling of classified documents and that he’s been summoned to appear next week at a Miami federal courthouse.
On the social media platform Truth Social, Trump said the Biden administration told his attorneys he will be indicted. Trump defended himself and said President Biden also had classified documents in his possession.
The New York Times reported that the Department of Justice has filed federal charges against Trump for holding onto classified documents and for obstructing the investigation into his handling of the documents.
The AP reported Trump’s lawyers met with DOJ officials on Monday, where they argued against charges being filed.
Trump is also facing charges in New York City for allegedly falsifying business records, and he was recently found liable for sexually assaulting and defaming E. Jean Carroll and was ordered to pay her $5 million in damages.
Trump’s legal woes come as he continues to hold the lead in the Republican 2024 presidential primary.