Donald Trump indictment: Former US president charged over classified documents

Donald Trump has been indicted over his handling of classified documents after he left the White House.

Mr Trump wrote on social media on Thursday that he has been indicted by the US Department of Justice and will appear at the federal courthouse in Miami on Tuesday.

“The corrupt Biden Administration has informed my attorneys that I have been Indicted, seemingly over the Boxes Hoax,” Mr Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform.

Mr Trump’s indictment makes him the first former president in US history to face criminal charges by the federal government. It carries serious legal consequences, including the possibility of prison if Mr Trump’s convicted.

Speaking on CNN, Mr Trump’s attorney James Trusty said the indictment includes charges of willful retention of national defense information — a crime under the Espionage Act.

Mr Trump is also facing charges of obstruction of justice, destruction or falsification of records, conspiracy and false statements.

Republicans have rallied to support the former president. Kevin McCarthy the House Speaker denounced a “dark day” for America, while Ron DeSantis, Mr Trump’s rival in the race for the party’s nomination in 2024, said the charges represent “a mortal threat to a free society”.

07:35 AM

What are the charges against Donald Trump and what happens next?

Donald Trump has been indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly retaining classified government documents and obstruction of justice, in what is another legal setback for the former president as he seeks to regain presidency next year.

The federal charges represent the biggest legal jeopardy so far for Mr Trump, coming less than three months after he was charged in New York with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

Here’s a look at the charges and what the case means for Mr Trump.

Read more from Susie Coen, The Telegraph’s US Correspondent, here

06:25 AM

Trump 'should be treated like any other lawbreaker'

In contrast to the Republicans accusing the federal government of political persecution, some Democrats said Donald Trump’s indictment was an affirmation of the US justice system.

“For four years, he acted like he was above the law. But he should be treated like any other lawbreaker. And today, he has been,” tweeted Rep. Adam Schiff of California, who rose to national prominence as the lead prosecutor in Mr Trump’s first impeachment trial.

Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland said: “Today’s federal grand jury indictment tells us that former President Donald Trump put our national security in grave danger as he pursued yet another lawless personal agenda by pilfering and hoarding government documents.”

Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York said: “He will have his day in court, in Miami and Manhattan and Atlanta too if it comes to it. But I am grateful to live in a nation where no man is above the law.”

05:42 AM

Trump's indictment dominates US front pages

05:29 AM

Put your money on Trump – these charges make him more likely to be Republican nominee

It seems counterintuitive but the latest criminal charges against Donald Trump will probably boost his chances of winning the Republican nomination in 2024.

There is a widespread - and growing - perception among Republican primary voters that the justice system has been weaponised by Democrats against the former president.

In April, Mr Trump was charged with falsifying business records over a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.

As a result, he went up in the polls, and that may well happen again now as Republicans rally to his cause.

Read the full analysis here

05:27 AM

DeSantis defends Trump as angry Republicans denounce indictment

Top Republicans reacted with fury to the charges brought against Mr Trump on Thursday, while others voiced concern about the former president’s indictment.

Florida governor Ron DeSantis, who is running against Mr Trump for the party’s nomination for the White House in 2024, said the charges represented “a mortal threat to a free society” as he accused Democrats of “weaponising” the justice system.

Read how Republicans and others reacted in this piece by Josh White

05:16 AM

What are the charges against Donald Trump and what happens next?

The federal charges against Mr Trump represent the biggest legal jeopardy so far for the former president, coming less than three months after he was charged in New York with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

The indictment carries grave legal consequences, including the possibility of prison if Mr Trump’s convicted.

Here’s a look at the charges and what the case means for Mr Trump.

04:44 AM

'No one is above the law'

Democrat congressman Dan Goldman weighed in on the news of Mr Trump’s indictment, saying that no one is “above the law”.

“This country was founded on the principle that we are a government of laws, not people, and that no person, not even a former President, is above the law,” he said.

“We are blessed with a legal system that is designed to vindicate the robust rights of all defendants, and just like any other criminal defendant, Donald Trump has long-standing constitutional rights to a trial by jury, to confront his accusers, and to legal counsel.”

04:16 AM

Who is Jack Smith, the special counsel leading Trump investigations?

US Attorney General Merrick Garland last year chose Jack Smith, a veteran war crimes prosecutor with a background in public corruption probes, to lead investigations into the presence of classified documents at Mr Trump’s Florida estate.

Mr Garland himself was selected by Democratic President Joe Biden, so Mr Smith’s appointment was a recognition of the politics involved in the investigation into a former president and current White House candidate.

Special counsels are appointed in cases in which the Justice Department perceives itself as having a conflict or where it’s deemed to be in the public interest to have someone outside the government come in and take responsibility for a matter.

Jack Smith - AP
Jack Smith - AP

03:51 AM

DeSantis says Trump is victim of political ‘weaponisation’

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis condemned the indictment of Mr Trump, his chief rival for the Republican presidential nomination, as a political hatchet job.

“The weaponisation of federal law enforcement represents a mortal threat to a free society. We have for years witnessed an uneven application of the law depending upon political affiliation,” Mr DeSantis tweeted.

“Why so zealous in pursuing Trump yet so passive about Hillary or Hunter?” He adds.

Neither Ms Clinton or Mr Biden have been charged with any crime.

Mr DeSantis also promised to end what he called political bias and to “bring accountability” to the Department of Justice if elected.

03:17 AM

The charges Trump faces

Speaking on CNN, Mr Trump’s attorney James Trusty said the indictment includes charges of willful retention of national defense information — a crime under the Espionage Act.

Mr Trump is also facing charges of obstruction of justice, destruction or falsification of records, conspiracy and false statements.

03:03 AM

Federal agents headed to Miami

The Justice Department and Homeland Security are sending additional federal agents to Miami ahead of Mr Trump’s expected court appearance in the coming days, a person familiar with the matter told AP. The person spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the sensitive security plans.

Mr Trump said he is due in court on Tuesday afternoon there.

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice headquarters in Washington were quiet late on Thursday, with few people in the hallways and no public sign of Attorney General Merrick Garland.

02:42 AM

More Republicans react to Trump's indictment

House GOP conference chairwoman Elise Stefanik, a New York Republican, said: “The radical Far Left will stop at nothing to interfere with the 2024 election in order to prop up the catastrophic presidency and desperate campaign of Joe Biden.”

Senator Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, tweeted: “If people in power can jail their political opponents at will, we don’t have a republic.”

02:40 AM

Biden ‘did not know about charges’

An official told CNN that Joe Biden learned that Donald Trump would face charges along with the American public when the news was reported on Thursday night.

Mr Trump and his supporters have claimed that the case is a witch-hunt by the Biden administration and the Democrats.

The White House has not commented on the reports that Mr Trump will face federal charges.

02:36 AM

Kevin McCarthy: Today is a 'dark day'

US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the chamber’s top Republican, described Mr Trump’s indictment as a “dark day” for the US and said he stood with the former president.

“House Republicans will hold this brazen weaponisation of power accountable,” he wrote on Twitter.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, meanwhile, said the indictment was a “sham” and “the continuation of the endless political persecution of Donald Trump.”

“Let’s be clear about what’s happening: Joe Biden is weaponising his Department of Justice against his own political rival,” Mr Scalise tweeted.

02:32 AM

Trump's son calls charges 'revenge from the deep state'

Donald Trump Jr, the former president’s son, said the charges amounted to “revenge” by the “deep state”.

He tweeted that the so-called deep state was “willing to engage in historic election interference and will burn our norms and Constitution to shreds to try to stop Trump from winning the Presidency again.

“They know he is the only real threat to their power.”

02:28 AM

Trump allies denounce indictment

Supporters of Mr Trump reacted with anger to the news of the federal indictment and criticised the Biden administration.

“The Biden Regime, which is realising they can’t beat or cheat their way to another victory, has taken the unprecedented step to indict President Trump,” said Karoline Leavitt, a spokesperson for Make America Great Again Inc, a super PAC backing Mr Trump’s bid for a return to the White House.

A White House official said it had no foreknowledge of the indictment and learned of it from news reports.

In an interview on Thursday night on Fox News, Senator Tim Scott said he felt the justice system’s “scales are weighted” based on politics.

“In America, every single person is presumed innocent, not guilty,” Mr Scott said, decrying “the weaponisation of the Department of Justice against the former president.”

Mr Scott said he had not spoken to Mr Trump and would “continue to pray for our nation and continue to pray that justice prevails.”

02:22 AM

How key figures reacted to Trump's indictment

Mr Trump’s indictment has sparked mixed reactions from Republican candidates as well as Elon Musk, who all weighed in on the news.

“There does seem to be far higher interest in pursuing Trump compared to other people in politics,” Mr Musk said.

“Very important that the justice system rebut what appears to be differential enforcement or they will lose public trust.”

Republican nomination candidate Asa Hutchinson said: “Donald Trump’s actions - from his willful disregard for the Constitution to his disrespect for the rule of law - should not define our nation or the Republican Party. This is a sad day for our country.”

Vivek Ramaswamy, another Republican nomination candidate, said: “It would be much easier for me to win this election if Trump weren’t in the race, but I stand for principles over politics. I commit to pardon Trump promptly on January 20, 2025, and to restore the rule of law in our country.”

Vivek Ramaswamy said he stands for 'principles' - Reuters
Vivek Ramaswamy said he stands for 'principles' - Reuters

02:04 AM

Trump: 'It's election interference'

In the video on Truth Social, Mr Trump referred to the case as a “boxes hoax” and claimed it was “election inference”.

“It’s election interference in the highest level,” he said.

“They come after me because now we are leading in the polls again by a lot, against Biden and against the Republicans.”

He added: “This is warfare for the law. Our country is going to hell.”

Mr Trump went on to say he did “nothing wrong”.

“We will fight this, just as we have been fighting for seven years.”

01:53 AM

Key details about the case explained

What are the charges?

Mr Trump has been charged with seven counts related to the mishandling of classified documents, according to two people familiar with the indictment. The charges themselves are unclear and remain under seal, one person said.

It was not immediately clear if anyone else would be charged in the case.

How did the case arise?

Officials with the National Archives and Records Administration reached out to representatives for Mr Trump in 2021 when they realised that important material from his time in office was missing from their collection.

According to the Presidential Records Act, White House documents are considered property of the US government and must be preserved.

A Trump representative told the National Archives in December 2021 that presidential records had been found at Mar-a-Lago. In January 2022, the National Archives retrieved 15 boxes of documents from Mr Trump’s Florida home.

That May, the FBI and Justice Department issued a subpoena for remaining classified documents in Mr Trump’s possession. Investigators who went to visit the property weeks later to collect the records were given roughly three dozen documents and a sworn statement from Mr Trump’s lawyers attesting that the requested information had been returned.

But federal officials returned to Mar-a-Lago in August 2022 and seized more than 33 boxes and containers totalling 11,000 documents from a storage room and an office, including 100 classified documents.

In all, roughly 300 documents with classification markings — including some at the top secret level — have been recovered from Mr Trump since he left office in January 2021.

01:33 AM

Trump: I am innocent

Donald Trump has released a video on Truth Social, his social media platform, claiming his innocence of the charges.




01:26 AM

Trump team sends out fundraising push

The Trump campaign sent its first fundraising email less than one hour after the former president announced he had been indicted.

“We are watching our Republic DIE before our very eyes”, the appeal said.

In the days following Mr Trump’s Manhattan indictment his 2024 campaign raised a reported $7 million.

01:21 AM

Trump charged on seven counts

Donald Trump has been charged by federal prosecutors for allegedly retaining national security documents.

The former president was indicted on seven charges including obstruction and conspiracy, it was reported on Thursday.

Follow the latest updates and reaction here.