An unsealed indictment has alleged that the former president, Donald Trump described a Pentagon “plan of attack” and shared a classified map related to a military operation while keeping boxes of documents hidden at his Mar-a-Largo estate.
According to a massive 37-count indictment announced Thursday, former president Trump twice divulged national security material on separate occasions in 2021 and took measures to retain secret papers that he knew he could not keep because they had been subpoenaed by the Justice Department.
The charge documents also indicated that Trump kept highly sensitive files after leaving the White House, such as records on US nuclear programmes, potential military vulnerabilities of the US and allies, and preparations for US retribution in the case of an attack.
In a brief statement Friday, special counsel Jack Smith, who is overseeing the Mar-a-Lago documents case, stated that his office intends to seek “a speedy trial” against Trump, which is “consistent with the public interest.” Smith, though, did not specify when a trial may be held.
The former president’s valet, Walt Nauta, was named as a co-defendant in the unsealed indictment, alleging that he conspired with Trump to obstruct justice, withheld documents or records, corruptly concealed documents in a federal investigation, engaged in a scheme to conceal, and made false statements.
“The purpose of the conspiracy was for Trump to keep classified documents he has taken with him from the White House and to hide and conceal them from a federal grand jury,” the indictment stated.
Federal prosecutors provided evidence that Trump discussed a US “plan of attack” against Iran during a meeting in July 2021 at his Bedminster golf club in New Jersey, where he was recorded asking his attendees to study the document while admitting it was “secret” and not declassified.
The second event described in the indictment came months later, in August or September 2021, when Trump showed a top secret military map with an employee at his political action committee, but he admitted he should not have shown the image because it was classified and the staffer should not have gotten too close.
Both meetings appeared to show that Trump was aware that the contents of the documents were linked to national defence secrets, as defined in the legislation under which he was charged, and that he was communicating their contents to people who were not authorised to receive them.
Because the data was stashed in boxes piled up in various locations around Mar-a-Lago, including the ballroom, a toilet, and a storage room, Trump employees without security clearances were also unwittingly exposed to secret information.
Mike Pence, Donald Trump’s former vice president and current Republican presidential candidate, has stated that handling sensitive documents is a serious concern.
He went on to say that protecting the nation’s secrets is critical and that no one is above the law, but he also expressed regret that Trump had been accused.
The last three statements appear to contradict the first three, and they reflect Pence’s and the other Republican contenders’ precarious situation.
He is attempting to defend Trump while also implying that some deference should be shown to the former president.
Pence, on the other hand, says he believes in the rule of law and that everyone, whether a past president or not, should be held to the law.