Trump charged over classified documents at Mar-a-Lago Club

Trump accused of showing off Pentagon ‘plan of attack’

WASHINGTON – It was the first time in the history of the United States that federal prosecutors filed charges against a former president.

On Friday, a federal grand jury indicted former President Donald Trump on 37 felony counts related to the alleged mishandling of classified documents at the Mar-a-Lago Club’s ballroom, storeroom, office, bathroom, and bedroom.

Last year, between May 23 and June 2, Trump asked Waltine “Walt” Nauta, a former military valet at The White House and Mar-a-Lago, to move about five dozen boxes from a storage room to Trump’s residence, according to the indictment.

When U.S. Department of Justice Special Counsel Jack Smith announced the historic charges after an investigation, he said the U.S. has “one set of laws and they apply to everyone.”

U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon, who Trump appointed in 2020, is presiding over the case. (Copyright 2023 by WPLG Local10.com - All rights reserved.)

Trump, who is campaigning for reelection, had already announced the indictment on Thursday night on the Truth Social platform. He was waiting for the news at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey.

Meanwhile, in Miami, U.S. Secret Service agents started to prepare for Trump’s court appearance on Tuesday at the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. U.S. Courthouse, at 400 N. Miami Ave., downtown.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Smith to investigate Trump on two cases in November. U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon, who Trump appointed in 2020, is presiding over the case on the classified documents.

REACTION: DEMOCRATS

President Joe Biden did not comment on the case Friday and The White House did not release a statement.

“I have not spoken to him at all,” Biden said about Garland. “I’m not going to speak to him.”

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz echoed the special counsel’s sentiment on Twitter.

“It’s fundamental to our democracy that no one — not even a former president — is above our laws. And neither fear nor standing must blind the pursuit of justice,” Wasserman Schultz wrote.

Rep. Frederica Wilson also tweeted: “No one is above the law, not even a twice impeached, indicted, sued, insurrection inciter, who can’t accept he lost his election — Former President! NO ONE! Our judicial system is alive, well, and strong. God bless America!”

REACTION: REPUBLICANS

Sen. Marco Rubio also took to Twitter, but his intent was to discredit the case against Trump.

“There is no limit to what these people will do to protect their power & destroy those who threaten it, even if it means ripping our country apart & shredding public faith in the institutions that hold our republic together,” Rubio wrote.

Some of Trump’s Republican primary opponents were also quick to react to the indictment.

Gov. Ron DeSantis used Twitter to allege that the case represented “a mortal threat to a free society” because it was a sign of “the weaponization of federal law enforcement” and said there was “an uneven application of the law depending upon political affiliation.”

DeSantis also had a message for federal prosecutors: “Why so zealous in pursuing Trump yet so passive about Hillary or Hunter?” He also made a promise if elected in 2024: “The DeSantis administration will bring accountability to the DOJ, excise political bias, and end weaponization once and for all.”

Mike Pence, Trump’s former vice president, said it’s too soon for Trump to consider suspending his campaign.

“Everyone is innocent until proven guilty in America,” Pence told reporters. “I think the former president has a right to make his defense.”

COMPLETE COVERAGE

Torres contributed to this report from Miami. ABC News and The Associated Press also contributed to this report.


About the Authors:

Ben Kennedy is an Emmy Award-winning Washington Bureau Chief for Local 10 News.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.