By Spy Uganda Correspondent
Former President Donald Trump has been indicted on seven counts in the special counsel’s classified documents probe, a stunning development that marks the first time a former president has faced federal charges.
Trump is facing a charge under the Espionage Act, his attorney Jim Trusty said on Thursday, as well as charges of obstruction of justice, destruction or falsification of records, conspiracy and false statements.
The special counsel has been investigating Trump’s handling of classified documents that were brought to his Mar-a-Lago Florida resort after he left the White House in 2021, as well as possible obstruction of the investigation and government efforts to retrieve the material.
The former president wrote on Truth Social that he had been informed by the Justice Department he was indicted and that he was “summoned to appear at the Federal Courthouse in Miami on Tuesday, at 3 PM.”
“The corrupt Biden Administration has informed my attorneys that I have been Indicted, seemingly over the Boxes Hoax,” Trump wrote.
Trusty said that Trump’s attorneys received a summons via email from the Justice Department Thursday listing the charges, but haven’t seen the indictment yet.
He called the Espionage Act charge “ludicrous.”
In a sign of how tightly held the special counsel kept word of the indictment, the US Secret Service and US Marshals did not get advance notice and were surprised by Trump’s announcement on social media, law enforcement officials said Thursday.
Law enforcement is now scrambling to prepare for the expected court appearance next week in Miami, and the Justice Department is moving additional resources there, officials said.
The special counsel and the Justice Department did not make any public statements Thursday, and a spokesman declined comment.
The federal indictment is the second time that Trump has been charged criminally this year. In April, the Manhattan district attorney charged Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business.
But the indictment from the special counsel marks a new and more perilous legal phase for a former president, who is running for president again in 2024 while facing criminal charges in two jurisdictions – and with two additional investigations into his conduct still underway.
The charges against Trump come just seven months since Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Jack Smith as a special counsel after Trump announced he was running for president, in order to keep the investigation independent from the Biden Justice Department.
Now Trump will face federal charges from the special counsel at the same time that he is trying to unseat President Joe Biden in next year’s presidential election.
‘I am An Innocent Man’
Trump has railed against the special counsel investigation and the other probes into his conduct, claiming they are all efforts to stop him politically. The former president has insisted that any criminal charges will not stop his 2024 campaign.
Trump released a four-minute video Thursday evening repeating many of his past claims, including that the Justice Department is being weaponized and that the investigations into him are “election interference.”
“I am an innocent man. I did nothing wrong,” Trump said in the video.
Trump has long avoided legal culpability in his personal, professional and political lives. He has settled a number of private civil lawsuits through the years and paid his way out of disputes concerning the Trump Organization. As president, he was twice impeached by the Democratic-led House, but avoided conviction by the Senate.
But after leaving office, the Justice Department criminal investigations into the retention of classified information at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort and his efforts to overturn the 2020 election cast dark clouds over Trump. Smith’s investigation into January 6 and efforts to overturn the election is still ongoing.
And in addition to the Manhattan district attorney’s April indictment, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is expected to announce in August whether there are any charges in her investigation into attempts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia.