Show military plans
On at least two occasions after leaving office, Trump showed confidential documents to others who visited him at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, the indictment alleges. In July 2021, Trump showed a writer, editor and two staffers a « plan of attack » that he said was being prepared for him by the U.S. military, the allegations say. The audio-taped meeting reportedly involved a paper Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley drafted on Iran.
Trump reportedly made a potentially damning admission in that session, saying he could have declassified the document while he was president, but « I can’t now. »
A longtime aide turned accomplice
Trump isn’t the only person facing criminal charges over the confidential documents fiasco: His longtime aide and « body man, » Walt Nauta, has also been hit with six counts including obstruction of justice. and making false statements to the FBI. The indictment alleges that Trump instructed Nauta to move boxes containing classified documents to hide them from both Trump’s lawyers and the FBI.
Prosecutors accused Nauta of lying months ago and pressured him to cooperate with the investigation, a source familiar with the situation told POLITICO, but allegations unveiled on Friday indicate he and prosecutors have not reached an agreement on a settlement , at least not yet.
Classified documents in a bathroom
Prosecutors say Mar-a-Lago was a particularly vulnerable place for classified documents because it is « an active social club [that] hosted events for tens of thousands of members and guests” – a far cry from the tightly guarded “sensitive compartmented information facility,” or SCIF, that is typically used to store the most sensitive national security secrets.
Trump railed against the FBI for spreading classified documents on the floor of a closet during a search of Mar-a-Lago last August. But prosecutors say Trump’s filing of the documents was equally sloppy. The indictment claims that some of the classified documents at Mar-a-Lago were kept in « a ballroom, a bathroom and a shower [and] his bedroom. »
Spilling secrets, literally
Other details of the indictment point to the haphazard nature with which sensitive government documents were scattered around the estate. The indictment alleges that, on at least one occasion in December 2021, boxes containing a mix of classified and unclassified documents « spilled on the floor » of a warehouse. Helpful for prosecutors, Nauta allegedly sent a photo of the scene to another Trump aide.
One of the documents, classified as « secret » and marked for release only to US officials and close allies, spoke of « the military capabilities of a foreign country, » the indictment said.
Revisiting Trump’s Attacks on Hillary Clinton…
Prosecutors don’t often butt into politicians’ monotonous speeches, but Special Counsel Jack Smith didn’t hesitate to include some of the rhetoric from Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign in the indictment. The feds cite five Trump statements about classified information, emphasizing his understanding of the need to safeguard it and strictly enforce related laws.
Of course, Trump’s remarks were prompted by allegations that his presidential rival that year, Hillary Clinton, had kept classified information on a private email server. Citing the comments, Smith could fuel claims that he is injecting politics into a case that should be focused solely on weighty national security issues.
…And his attacks on John Brennan
Additionally, Smith couldn’t resist including a statement Trump made in 2018 about the dangers of giving former officials access to national security secrets. « Such access, » Trump said at the time, « is especially inappropriate when former officials have moved on to highly partisan positions. » While the indictment does not provide context, Trump made this statement while stripping former CIA director John Brennan of his security clearance after Brennan criticized Trump’s ties to Russia.
The practical management of Trump
The indictment indicates that Trump was intimately involved in handling the boxes brought from the White House to Mar-a-Lago, requesting some and sorting through items after the National Archives pressured Trump aides to ship the files back to Washington. In January 2022, Nauta suggested in a text message that Trump was upset that the boxes were labeled with too much detail about their contents.
“Can we have new covers for the boxes? … I scored too much,” Nauta wrote to a colleague.
The message was sent just days before 15 boxes were to be shipped from Mar-a-Lago to the National Archives. The FBI later concluded that the boxes contained 197 documents with classification markings.