What’s in the Second Trump Indictment

Written by Hudson Crozier

The historic federal indictment: Former President Donald Trump is facing 37 felony counts for allegedly keeping classified documents in his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida after leaving the White House—which violates the Espionage Act; trying to hide the fact that he did so; and obstructing the government’s investigation. He could face decades in prison. Trump’s critics refer to the 49-page indictment as “damning” and celebrate it as proof that “no one is above the law.”

The alleged mishandling: Trump kept boxes of sensitive documents lying around Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach residence in which he hosted thousands of guests over time, even in places such as a bathroom and ballroom, the indictment says. He allegedly showed people documents while admitting they weren’t authorized to see them, contradicting his previous statements that everything he took from the White House was declassified. The prosecution claims to have an audio recording of one of these moments.

“As president, I could have declassified [the document],” Trump allegedly said in the recording. “Now, I can’t, you know, but this is still a secret.”

How important were the documents? They contained “information regarding defense and weapons capabilities of both the [U.S.] and foreign countries … nuclear programs; potential vulnerabilities of the [U.S.] and its allies to military attack; and plans for possible retaliation in response to a foreign attack,” the Department of Justice says. Failure to protect the information endangered national security, “foreign relations,” the safety of certain individuals, and “sensitive intelligence collection methods,” according to the indictment.

The alleged coverup: In addition to hiding the boxes from the FBI, the grand jury, and one of his own lawyers, Trump allegedly submitted false information to the FBI multiple times and refused to comply with a subpoena to turn over classified documents from his home. “Wouldn’t it be better if we just told them we don’t have anything here?” he told his lawyer in response to the subpoena, according to one of the government’s anonymous sources.

Mixed reactions from the right:

  • Two-tiered justice system: Some say Trump’s actions are bad but that there is still a double standard. Joe Biden and Mike Pence had taken classified documents to their private residences, and Hillary Clinton deliberately mishandled classified emails, yet have not been investigated as seriously.

  • Untrustworthy DOJ: Those who extremely distrust the DOJ—for good reason—say they’ll believe the evidence when they see it. Numerous GOP politicians and presidential candidates labeled the case as political, with Vivek Ramaswamy promising to pardon Trump if he becomes president.

  • Recklessness: Some conservatives see the allegations and incriminating recordings as confirmation that Trump was unfit for the presidency due to his recklessness.

Where do we go from here? Trump will appear for an arraignment in a Miami federal court tomorrow. There is nothing that legally prevents him from continuing his campaign—which he plans to do no matter what—or from holding office again, even if he is convicted. With enough delays by Trump’s legal team, this trial and the Stormy Daniels case could stretch well beyond the 2024 election. One thing’s for sure: We’re in unprecedented territory.

On the same day as the federal indictment, news broke that the FBI knew that President Joe Biden was allegedly paid $5 million by Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian natural gas firm where his son Hunter sat on the board.