Former US President Donald Trump has been indicted on charges related to his handling of classified documents after leaving the White House. Trump, 76 years old, faces seven charges, including unauthorised retention of classified files, as reported by US media. The charges have not yet been made public. This marks the second indictment of Trump and the first-ever federal indictment of a former president. Despite these charges, legal experts claim that they will not hinder his ability to run for the presidency again in 2024.
In a post on Truth Social, Trump claimed his innocence and mentioned that he had been summoned to appear at a federal court in Miami, Florida, where he would be arrested and hear the charges against him. Trump’s attorney, Jim Trusty, informed CNN that the former president had received details of the charges in a summons document, which include conspiracy, false statements, obstruction of justice, and illegally retaining classified documents under the Espionage Act. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has declined to comment, and the indictment has not been publicly released.
Last year, Trump’s Florida resort Mar-a-Lago was searched, and 11,000 documents were seized, including approximately 100 marked as classified, with some labelled top secret. It is against US law for federal officials, including a president, to remove or keep classified documents at an unauthorised location.
Despite the indictment, legal experts say Trump can still enter the White House race. David Super, a professor at Georgetown University Law Centre, stated that Trump could continue to run for office even if convicted in the documents case. Currently, Trump is the frontrunner among Republican candidates for the White House, as indicated by opinion polls.
As Trump issued a fundraising email with the subject line “BREAKING: INDICTED”, several leading Republicans voiced their support for him. Speaker of the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, criticised the indictment of the leading candidate opposing the current president. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis also expressed his support for Trump, while Asa Hutchinson stated that Trump’s alleged actions “should not define our nation or the Republican Party”.
A separate investigation into efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election is also being overseen by Jack Smith, a former war crimes attorney known as a dogged investigator. Trump became the first former president to be charged with a crime in April when he pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records over a hush-money payment to a porn star. He faces a trial in that case in New York next year.
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