Donald Trump indicted: Jack Smith claims ex-president ‘put our country at risk’

Trump Classified Documents
Special counsel Jack Smith speaks to reporters Friday, June 9, 2023, in Washington. Former President Donald Trump is facing 37 felony charges related to the mishandling of classified documents according to an indictment unsealed on Friday. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Donald Trump indicted: Jack Smith claims ex-president ‘put our country at risk’

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Jack Smith said Donald Trump “put our country at risk” during a rare statement following the unsealing of the special counsel’s indictment against the former president related to his alleged mishandling of classified records.

Smith said during his brief remarks in Washington, D.C., that Trump had been charged with “felony violations of our national security laws as well as participating in a conspiracy to obstruct justice” and said his indictment laid out “the scope and the gravity of the crimes” that Trump had been charged with related to the Mar-a-Lago saga.

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“The men and women of the United States intelligence community and our armed forces dedicate their lives to protecting our nation and its people,” Smith said. “Our laws that protect national defense information are critical to the safety and security of the United States, and they must be enforced. Violations of those laws put our country at risk.”

Smith unsealed an unprecedented indictment Friday, alleging Trump unlawfully kept classified documents (including on nuclear secrets and military vulnerabilities) and stored the sensitive material in boxes in his bathroom, the shower, and elsewhere in his Florida home.

The 49-page document was unsealed, laying out 37 counts against Trump on Friday afternoon that alleged Trump was “personally” involved in the transport of the documents from the White House to his Mar-a-Lago home.

He was hit with 31 counts for the willful retention of national defense information, one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, one count of withholding a document or record, one count of corruptly concealing a document or record, one count of concealing a document in a federal investigation, one count for a scheme to conceal, and one count related to alleged false statements.

The unsealed indictment indicated the classified documents in Trump’s boxes included “defense and weapons capabilities” of both the U.S. and foreign countries, U.S. “nuclear programs,” and possible “vulnerabilities” of the U.S. and its allies to a “military attack.”

The indictment alleged that after his presidency, Trump improperly held on to classified documents originating from the CIA, the Pentagon, the National Security Agency, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, the Department of Energy, and the State Department, and its Bureau of Intelligence and Research.

Smith said Friday that “we have one set of laws in this country, and they apply to everyone” and insisted that “adherence to the rule of law is a bedrock principle of the Department of Justice, and our nation’s commitment to the rule of law sets an example for the world.” He said that collecting facts and applying the law is “what determines the outcomes of an investigation — nothing more and nothing less.”

Trump revealed Thursday evening that Smith, who was hand-picked by Attorney General Merrick Garland, had informed him he was being indicted related to his alleged mishandling of classified records at his Florida resort home of Mar-a-Lago and that he had been summoned to appear in a Miami federal courthouse on Tuesday afternoon. The former president said Friday that one of his close White House and Mar-a-Lago aides, Walt Nauta, had been indicted, too.

Nauta was also charged with six criminal counts: conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding of a document or record, corruptly concealing a document or record, concealing a document in a federal investigation, scheme to conceal, and a false statements charge.

The indictment said Trump and Nauta conspired with each other from May to August 2022 and that “the purpose of the conspiracy was for Trump to keep classified documents he had taken with him from the White House and to hide and conceal them from a federal grand jury.”

Smith said Friday that the DOJ prosecutors in his office “investigated this case hewing to the highest ethical standards, and they will continue to do so as this case proceeds.” And he also lavished praise on the FBI, noting the “dedicated public servants” at the bureau “with whom my office is conducting this investigation and who work tirelessly every day upholding the rule of law in our country.” He added that “I’m deeply proud to be standing shoulder to shoulder” with the FBI.

“It is very important for me to note that the defendants in this case must be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law,” Smith said. “To that end, my office will seek a speedy trial in this matter, consistent with the public interest and the rights of the accused. We very much look forward to presenting our case to a jury of citizens in the southern district of Florida.”

Trump responded to the indictment Thursday, claiming on social media: “I AM AN INNOCENT MAN!”

Trump lashed out at Smith on Friday afternoon, calling the special counsel “a Trump Hater — a deranged ‘psycho’ that shouldn’t be involved in any case having to do with ‘Justice,’ other than to look at Biden as a criminal, which he is!”

President Joe Biden is being investigated by another Garland-appointed special counsel, Robert Hur. Biden’s personal attorneys said they first discovered classified documents in early November at the Penn Biden Center, located in Washington. Biden’s lawyers later found more classified documents at his Wilmington home in Delaware, and the DOJ found more when it conducted its own search.

Trump also said Friday that “this is the man who caused the Lois Lerner catastrophe with the IRS” and added that “he had a unanimous loss in the Supreme Court.”

Smith inserted the DOJ into what would become the Lois Lerner IRS scandal targeting conservative nonprofit groups during the Obama years, which Trump has repeatedly criticized Smith for since he became special counsel.

Lerner, the director of the IRS’s Exempt Organizations Unit, led an IRS effort targeting Tea Party groups and similar conservative nonprofit organizations. Smith’s push for DOJ officials to contact Lerner and the IRS in order to get the DOJ involved seemed to be the impetus behind the IRS sending the FBI reams of nonprofit tax records.

An IRS watchdog and the DOJ later admitted the IRS committed wrongdoing, although not of the criminal variety. Lerner would apologize.

Republicans unsuccessfully sought a special counsel to investigate the IRS scandal at the time, with Smith’s actions cited as one reason.

Smith previously served under Attorney General Eric Holder, leading the DOJ’s Public Integrity Unit from 2010 to 2015. Smith led a team of 30 prosecutors in conducting public corruption cases throughout the U.S., including a mixed track record of going after high-profile politicians.

While chief of the public integrity section, Smith helped with the prosecution against then-Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Virginia Republican who was indicted and convicted on federal corruption charges related to bribery in 2014. The Supreme Court unanimously overturned McDonnell’s conviction in 2016.

Judge Aileen Cannon, a district court judge in Florida who gave Trump a temporary win when she appointed Judge Raymond Dearie to be the special master in the Mar-a-Lago saga in September, has apparently been assigned to oversee the criminal case against Trump in southern Florida.

Smith is known to have convened grand juries in Washington and in southern Florida, with the Florida grand jury reportedly receiving testimony on the classified documents saga in recent days. Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has reportedly testified before one of Smith’s grand juries.

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It is possible that the charges could be handed down in both districts.

Smith has been tasked with investigating Trump on the Capitol riot and his alleged mishandling of classified information at his Florida resort home of Mar-a-Lago. Garland had the power to reject the charges, but he apparently allowed the indictment to proceed.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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