Federal prosecutors have informed the defense team of former President Donald J. Trump that he is under investigation for his handling of classified documents after leaving office, according to two people familiar with the matter.
The prosecutor’s notification to the Trump team from the office of special counsel Jack Smith was the clearest sign to date that the former president is likely to be indicted in an investigation.
It remains unclear when Trump’s team was notified that he was under a special counsel investigation, but the notice indicates prosecutors working for Smith have nearly completed their investigation and are moving toward indictment. was suggesting that
Prosecutors reviewed court papers last year to see whether Trump violated laws governing the handling of national security documents and whether he obstructed government efforts to retrieve national security documents. showed that there is
Trump was found in possession of more than 300 classified documents at his private club and residence in Florida, Mar-a-Lago, including a former It also included documents found during a local search by FBI agents two months after the president’s lawyers testified. He searched diligently but was no longer found.
Informing a potential defendant that he or she is a target is a formal way of indicating that the person is the direct focus of a criminal investigation, and often precedes prosecution. This notice usually gives defense counsel an opportunity to request a meeting with the prosecutor and present their side of the case.
Three of Trump’s lawyers – James Trusty, John Lowry and Lindsay Harrigan – met with the Justice Department’s Smith and others on Monday for nearly two hours, according to people close to Trump. He described this as a last-ditch effort to contain the situation. Indict and warn senior prosecutors of possible misconduct in the Smith investigation.
Witnesses continued to appear before a federal grand jury in Miami, which was hearing evidence in the document case on Wednesday, including one of Trump’s former press secretaries, Taylor Budwich.
Trump’s aides and advisers spent the day in high tension. By the time Mr. Budwitch left his grand jury appearance, conservative journalist John Solomon, one of Mr. Trump’s representatives at the National Archives, said prosecutors were moving toward an “imminent” indictment of Mr. Trump. published an article claiming that
When the New York Times contacted Trump directly to ask if he had been told he would actually be indicted, Trump replied, “No.”
But when asked if he had been told he was under federal investigation, Trump did not directly respond, saying he “needs to understand” that he has not been in direct contact with prosecutors. He then reiterated that it was “not true” that he was told he would be prosecuted.
Shortly afterward, while at a club in Bedminster, New Jersey, Trump posted a message on his social media platforms denying Solomon’s allegations.
“No one has heard that I am being indicted,” Trump said. I’ve been convinced that I’m a target of the Department of Justice and the FBI with power,” he wrote. “
Most of the paperwork was conducted by a grand jury in Washington, which over the past few months has heard from dozens of witnesses, including some of Trump’s White House advisers and junior Mar-a-Lago officials. rice field. Security details of over 20 members of his Secret Service.
Evidence hearings appear to have begun last month, according to people familiar with how the Miami grand jury works, but so far only a handful of witnesses have appeared, including several Mar-a-Lago employees. It remains unclear how many more witnesses will testify before the Miami grand jury.
There have been signs recently that the Washington grand jury has expired or suspended testimony hearings, according to people familiar with how the Washington grand jury works. Some sources say the last witness to appear for questioning in Washington was in early or mid-May.
If prosecutors eventually indict Mr. Trump (which he and some advisers say likely), Mr. Smith’s team will move to Washington, Miami, or both. Whether to prosecute remains an open question.
The special counsel’s office is also separately investigating Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election. The investigation seems to be a little behind compared to the confidential document case.
Trump has already been indicted by local prosecutors in New York in a hush-money case, and is under intense scrutiny from prosecutors in Georgia over his efforts to reverse his 2020 election loss. there is
Federal prosecutors are still gathering evidence in a documentary investigation Wednesday. Mr. Budwitch showed up at the Miami Courthouse around 9:00 a.m. and was questioned before a grand jury for an hour or two.
One of the issues that prosecutors were interested in questioning was a draft that Trump sent to aides shortly after news broke that National Archives officials had recovered 15 boxes of documents from Trump in January 2022. It was a statement that the time.
According to two people briefed on the matter, the statement Trump originally wanted to send was that all documents held by the president had been returned. A draft has been prepared, according to people familiar with the matter. A person briefed on the matter said prosecutors had a draft of it and questioned witnesses about emails sent by aides about it.
Claims in the draft statement that Trump has returned all government records have turned out to be false. After 15 boxes were found to contain highly classified documents, prosecutors issued subpoenas demanding the return of classified documents still in Trump’s possession. Trump’s lawyers have since turned over more documents, but a subsequent FBI search has revealed even more.
The statement Trump actually issued after the 15 boxes were returned in early 2022 does not claim to have returned all government materials in his possession.
After attending the grand jury, Gravitch posted a message on Twitter saying he had “honestly answered all questions.” He described the probe as “a deceptive and very nasty effort to use the power of the government to ‘catch’ Mr. Trump.”
His attorney, Stanley Woodward Jr., declined to comment.
Many of the central events in the documentary investigation took place in Florida, but perhaps the most notable was the search for Mar-a-Lago last summer, but the case was a national security agency affiliated with Washington’s Department of Justice. initiated by a security prosecutor. Legal experts have debated which location would be the best venue for prosecutors to pursue criminal charges.