WASHINGTON – After campaign rallies in Georgia and North Carolina on Saturday, former President Donald Trump is set to appear in federal court on Tuesday at the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. U.S. Courthouse in downtown Miami — after a grand jury indicted him Friday over alleged mishandling of classified documents.
Trump, who is campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination, faces 37 felony counts for what prosecutors said were crimes at the Mar-a-Lago Club and at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey.
Special Counsel Jack Smith included photographs of the classified documents stored in cardboard boxes near a toilet and shower in a bathroom, on the stage of a ballroom, in an office, in a bedroom, and in a storage room.
“I don’t want anybody looking, I don’t want anybody looking through my boxes, I really don’t,” Trump told one of his attorneys, according to the indictment. “I don’t want you looking through my boxes!”
ALLEGED COVER UP
The National Archives and Records Administration asked the U.S. Department of Justice for help to recover documents last year and this resulted in the May 2022 grand jury subpoena and the FBI raid in August. The content of some of the documents the FBI recovered included another country’s “nuclear capabilities,” U.S. “nuclear weaponry,” and “military operations” against the U.S., according to the indictment.
Waltine “Walt” Nauta, a former military valet who served Trump at The White House and Mar-a-Lago, was also indicted in the case and accused of lying to the FBI about his involvement in moving 64 boxes from the storage room to the residence and later returning 30 from the residence to the storage room.
The indictment alleges “Nauta did, in fact, know that the boxes in Pine Hall had come from the Storage Room, as Nauta himself, with the assistance of Trump Employee 2, had moved the boxes from the Storage Room to Pine Hall; and Nauta had observed the boxes in and moved them to various locations at The Mar-a-Lago Club.”
The indictment alleges one of Trump’s attorneys found 38 classified documents in the storage room, placed them in a folder, and closed it with duct tape. Some of the boxes also allegedly traveled from Mar-a-Lago and on a plane to be delivered to Trump’s club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
THE 37 CHARGES
Trump is the first former president in the history of the United States to face federal charges. He is facing 31 counts of willful retention of national defense information, conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding a document or record, corruptly concealing a document or record, concealing a document in a federal investigation, a scheme to conceal, and false statements and representations.
Trump, who is campaigning for reelection, had already announced the indictment on Thursday night on the Truth Social platform and referred to Smith as a “deranged lunatic,” a “Trump hater” and a “psycho.”
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.
Other legal troubles include that the Trump organization was convicted of tax fraud. Trump was found liable for sexual abuse in a civil trial and he was indicted for paying hush money to a porn star.
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!”
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.”
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?
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.”
Torres and Stanwood contributed to this report from Miami. ABC News and The Associated Press also contributed to this report.