Donald Trump will face federal charges after the US Department of Justice on Thursday night moved to prosecute the former president over claims he mishandled classified documents.
Mr Trump said on Thursday night that his lawyers have been informed by the White House that the former president will be indicted on criminal charges.
“The corrupt Biden Administration has informed my attorneys that I have been Indicted, seemingly over the Boxes Hoax,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform.
Mr Trump wrote that he had been summoned to appear at the federal courthouse in Miami on Tuesday.
Appearing on CNN, Mr Trump’s attorney James Trusty said the indictment includes charges of wilful retention of national defence information — a crime under the Espionage Act, which polices the handling of government secrets — obstruction, false statements and conspiracy.
A spokesperson for Special Counsel Jack Smith, who is handling the investigation, declined to comment.
The indictment carries grave consequences, including the possibility of prison if Mr Trump is convicted.
‘I am an innocent man’
Mr Trump wrote on Truth Social “I never thought it possible that such a thing could happen to a former President of the United States, who received far more votes than any sitting President in the History of our Country, and is currently leading, by far, all Candidates, both Democrat and Republican, in Polls of the 2024 Presidential Election. I AM AN INNOCENT MAN!”
The former president said it is “a DARK DAY for the United States of America. We are a Country in serious and rapid Decline, but together we will Make America Great Again”.
He also made several unsubstantiated claims about Joe Biden, claiming the President “has 1850 Boxes at the University of Delaware, additional Boxes in Chinatown, DC, with even more Boxes at the University of Pennsylvania, and documents strewn all over his garage floor where he parks his Corvette, and which is ‘secured’ by only a garage door that is paper thin, and open much of the time.”
US prosecutors have in recent days moved towards prosecuting Mr Trump over his alleged retention of classified documents.
The Justice Department has spent months investigating whether Mr Trump broke the law by removing hundreds of government records, including some of America’s most closely guarded secrets, after leaving office in 2021.
Federal prosecutors this week informed Mr Trump’s lawyers that he is the target of the criminal investigation.
The investigation that is being led by Mr Smith, an independent special counsel, is also considering whether Mr Trump or his associates obstructed their efforts to investigate his retention of government records.
On Monday, three of Mr Trump’s lawyers met with Mr Smith and his staff at the Justice Department’s headquarters in Washington in a final attempt to stave off charges.
The special counsel is also investigating efforts to overturn Mr Trump’s 2020 election loss that culminated in the riot at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
The case was thrust into the public spotlight in August last year, when the FBI raided Mr Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
They recovered at least 300 classified documents, including intelligence that may have come from human assets.
The raid came two months after Mr Trump’s lawyers said a diligent search had not turned up any more.
Mr Trump has denied any wrongdoing, claiming that he declassified all documents in his possession.
He has said that a president can declassify information “even by thinking about it”.
Investigators have scrutinised several suspected obstruction attempts, reportedly including surveillance footage showing staff moving boxes of documents at Mar-a-Lago and audio of Mr Trump.
A significant portion of the charges are set to be filed at a nearby court in South Florida, according to The Washington Post, where he could face a significantly different jury pool to one in Washington.
However there is still the possibility that some charges could be filed in Washington.
Most of the investigation has been conducted by a grand jury in the US capital, which has heard testimony from dozens of witnesses, including Mr Trump’s White House advisers, Mar-a-Lago staff and his Secret Service detail.
Witnesses continued to appear before a second grand jury in Miami that has also been hearing evidence in the documents case on Wednesday.
‘No one’s above the law’
Mr Trump has already been indicted in a separate case involving hush-money payments shortly before the 2016 election to women alleging affairs, a claim he denies.
Mr Trump, who is the frontrunner to be the Republican presidential candidate, is due to go on trial in that case next March – in the middle of the GOP primary contest.
He faces a growing list of challengers, including Mike Pence, his former vice president, who said that indicting Mr Trump would be a “drastic and divisive step”.
Mr Pence added: “Let me be clear that no one’s above the law”.
A fourth investigation into Mr Trump is underway in Georgia concerning his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss in the state.