Donald Trump, former United States president, is facing 37 criminal counts over retaining national defence information, nuclear secrets, and obstruction of justice.
The US department of justice unsealed a 49-page document which details the charges — known as an indictment — on Friday
The development makes Trump, who is campaigning to return to the White House, the first US president to face federal charges.
The indictment also details the various locations where the former president allegedly stored classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, including “in a ballroom, a bathroom and shower, an office space, his bedroom, and a storage room”.
Walt Nauta, Trump’s valet, is also implicated in the charges.
Here is a breakdown of the major charges the 76-year-old is facing.
TRUMP SHOWED SECRET DEFENSE DOCUMENTS TO CIVILIANS – INCLUDING A WRITER
According to Jack Smith, the US justice department special counsel, who led the investigation, Trump did not only possess classified documents belonging to the US and other foreign countries, but he also showed them to other people.
Smith said the classified documents Trump stored in his boxes included information regarding defense and weapons capabilities, US nuclear programs, potential vulnerabilities of the US and its allies to military attack; and plans for possible retaliation in response to a foreign attack.
“The unauthorised disclosure of these classified documents could put at risk the national security of the United States, foreign relations, the safety of the United States military, and human sources and the continued viability of sensitive intelligence collection methods,” the indictment reads.
It was during an audio-recorded meeting with a writer, a publisher, and two members of his staff — none of whom possessed a security clearance — the former president showed and described a “plan of attack” that he said was prepared for him by the department of defense and a senior military official, the indictment added.
According to the document, the former president told the individuals that the plan was “highly confidential” and “secret” and “as president I could have declassified it”.
TRUMP RETAINED CLASSIFIED DOCUMENTS AFTER PRESIDENCY
As part of his official duties as president, Trump received intelligence briefings and documents from high-level US government officials and agencies, including briefings from the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, senior White House officials, and a designated briefer.
Smith said Trump held on to the information after his tenure expired.
“In January 2021, as he was preparing to leave the White House, Trump and his White House staff, including Nauta, packed items, including some of Trump’s boxes. TRUMP was personally involved in this process,” the indictment reads.
According to the charges, the former president caused his boxes, containing hundreds of classified documents, to be transported from the White House to the Mar-a-Lago club from January through March 15, 2021, where events and gatherings took place.
TRUMP DISCLOSED SECRET INFORMATION IN MEETINGS
On July 21, 2021, when he was no longer president, Trump gave an interview in his office at the Bedminster Club to media personnel in connection with a then-forthcoming book, the US justice department added.
The justice department counsel said two former president’s staff members also attended the interview, which was recorded with his knowledge and consent.
“Before the interview, the media had published reports that, at the end of Trump’s term as president, a senior military official (the “senior military official”) purportedly feared that Trump might order an attack on country A and that the senior military official advised Trump against doing so,” the indictment reads.
“Upon greeting the writer, publisher, and his two staff members, Trump stated, “Look what I found, this was [the senior military official’s] plan of attack, read it and just show . . . it’s interesting.”
TRUMP OBSTRUCTED JUSTICE ON MULTIPLE OCCASIONS
Part of the charges also levelled against Trump was that he obstructed justice.
After the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) opened a criminal investigation into the unlawful retention of classified documents at the Mar-a-Lago club in March 2022, a federal grand jury investigation began the next month.
The grand jury then issued a subpoena requiring Trump to turn over all documents with classification markings. However, the indictment said the former president endeavoured to obstruct the FBI and grand jury investigations and conceal his continued retention of classified documents.
According to the indictment, Trump suggested that his attorney falsely represented to the FBI and the grand jury that he did not have the documents called for by the grand jury subpoena.
He also directed his aide to move boxes of documents to conceal them from his attorney, the FBI, and the grand jury, Smith said.
The US department of justice also said Trump suggested that his attorney hide or destroyed documents called for by the grand jury subpoena, provide to the FBI and grand jury just some of the documents called for while claiming that he was cooperating fully, and causing a certification to be submitted to the FBI and grand jury falsely representing that all documents called for by the grand jury subpoena had been produced— while knowing that, in fact, not all such documents had been produced.
During his campaign in 2016, the former president said America needed “the best protection of classified documents,” and that anyone who mishandles classified documents should be disqualified from running for the presidency.
At the time, he was running against Hillary Clinton, who was found to have kept emails from her time as the secretary of state on a private server.
So far, Trump has maintained his innocence and has called the indictment an “election interference”.