The Trump indictment is out, and it is amazing. Please take the time to read it HERE. The evidence and charges are so sprawling and impacting I barely know where to start. And yes, Trump is charged with 31 counts under the Espionage Act.
How The Documents Got To Mar-a-lago and Where Their Byzantine Movements Through Mar-a-Lago.
The indictment alleges Trump personally supervised which boxes and documents were moved to Mar-a-Lago from the White House in the final days of his Presidency.
Once they arrived at the resort, the boxes were originally stored on a stage in a ballroom that was used for scores of public events. They were kept there for at least three months.
The boxes were then moved to the business center of the resort, called the “Lake Room.” That apparently was problematical because they took up space and were in the way. So a new location had to be found. It’s brilliant.
The boxes were moved to a bathroom/shower facility (see first picture above). Here, the man who regards himself as King, kept the nation’s secrets close to his throne. Anyone who took a seat there could just open things up and read them.
Almost six months after their arrival at Mar-a-Lago the boxes were moved to the notorious basement storage room.
“The United States Secret Service (the “Secret Service”) provided protection services to TRUMP and his family after he left office, including at The Mar-a-Lago Club, but it was not responsible for the protection of TRUMP’s boxes or their contents. TRUMP did not inform the Secret Service that he was storing boxes containing classified documents at The Mara-Lago Club.”
As for this storeroom:
“The hallway leading to the Storage Room could be reached from multiple outside entrances, including one accessible from The Mar-a-Lago Club pool patio through a doorway that was often kept open. The Storage Room was near the liquor supply closet, linen room, lock shop, and various other rooms.”
Trump’s Disclosure of Classified Documents To Unauthorized Persons
On at least two occasions Trump showed classified documents to unauthorized people while basically telling them “I shouldn’t be doing this because it’s classified.” In short, he knew exactly what he was doing and he knew that it was wrong.
In both these instances he had transferred the particular documents to his Bedminster New Jersey residence. On July 21, 2021 Trump shared a secret plan for attacking Iran with a writer, publisher and two staff members for Mark Meadows who was writing a book. Trump showed them the plan to repudiate claims by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley that Trump wanted to attack Iran and Milley advised against it. Here is some of what Trump said while showing them this document.
“They presented me this — this is off the record, but — they presented me this. This was him. This was the Defense Department and him . . . I just found, isn’t that amazing? This totally wins my case, you know. Except it is like, highly confidential. Secret. This is secret information. Look, look at this. You attack, and . . . See as president I could have declassified it. Now I can’t, you know, but this is still a secret.”
To which one of the staffers laughed and said, “Yeah. Now we have a problem.”
For the record, that conversation was recorded and the DOJ has the audiotape.
The second incident, also in Bedminster, involved a meeting between Trump and a representative of his PAC in August or September 2021. Trump mentioned that a military operation in a foreign country was not going well. He showed the PAC Rep a classified map of the country “and told the PAC Representative that he should not be showing the map to the PAC Representative and to not get too close.” [See ¶ 35 of the indictment]
The January 2022 Production To NARA
In January 2022 Trump finally responded to NARA’s long running demands for missing documents by producing 15 boxes. NARA discovered scores of classified documents in the contents and referred the matter to the Department of Justice.
In the lead up to that production Trump moved boxes to his residence and went through them deciding what would, and would not go to NARA. Nauta texted with a resort staff member regarding Trump’s progress and coordinated bringing more boxes up to Trump’s residence for him to review.
Nauta would later lie to the FBI claiming to not know anything about boxes brought to Trump’s residence during that time.
Trump’s Efforts To Obstruct The Grand Jury Subpoena
On May 11, 2022 the grand jury issued a subpoena demanding return of all documents with classified markings. The very next day Nauta started removing boxes from the storage room (videotapes document this activity).
On May 23, 2022 Trump met with his attorney Evan Corcoran who, unfortunately for Trump took meticulous notes, that were later given to prosecutors after a judge concluded they met the crime/fraud exception to the attorney/client privilege. Amongst the things Trump said to his attorney:
- I don’t want anybody looking, I don’t want anybody looking through my boxes, I really don’t, I don’t want you looking through my boxes.
- Well what if we, what happens if we just don’t respond at all or don’t play ball with them?
- Wouldn’t it be better if we just told them we don’t have anything here?
- Well look isn’t it better if there are no documents?
Trump argued to his attorneys that because Hillary Clinton’s attorney took the blame for deleting her emails that they should be willing to falsely state he had no documents responsive to the subpoena:
“He said, he said that it — that it was him. That he was the one who deleted all of her emails, the 30,000 emails, because they basically dealt with her scheduling and her going to the gym and her having beauty appointments. And he was great. And he, so she didn’t get in any trouble because he said that he was the one who deleted them.”
Corcoran then planned with Trump to return on June 2d. At that time Corcoran would review all the documents in the storeroom to see which had classified markings.
Between May 23 and June 2 Nauta “at Trump’s direction” moved dozens of boxes out of the storeroom to Trump’s office and residence. An interesting side note here involves a female member of the Trump family noticing this activity and asking Nauta whether the boxes were to be moved to Bedminster. She was concerned because there would not be room on the plane for them. Nauta responded:
“Good Afternoon Ma’am [Smiley Face Emoji] Thank you so much. I think he wanted to pick from them. I don’t imagine him wanting to take the boxes. He told me to put them in the room and that he was going to talk to you about them.”
The indictment says the cameras show Nauta moved 64 boxes from the storeroom to Trump’s residence, but returned only about 30 prior to Corcoran’s June 2 inventory of the documents.
Corcoran found 38 documents with classified markings that he put in a Redweld folder that he sealed with tape. Trump indicated to Corcoran that anything really bad in the folder should be “plucked out.”
The next day, Trump and Corcoran convinced another attorney, Christina Bobb, to sign a sworn attestation to give the FBI, “based on information that had been provided to her,” even though she had not been involved in the review of documents and had not even seen the subpoena. That sworn attestation falsely stated that:
- “A diligent search was conducted of the boxes that were moved from the White House to Florida”
- “This search was conducted after receipt of the subpoena, in order to locate any and all documents that are responsive to the subpoena”
- “Any and all responsive documents accompany this certification.”
The indictment presents this falsity as Trump’s fault because Trump did not tell Corcoran or Bobb about Nauta moving boxes to his office.
On August 8, 2022 the FBI executed the search warrant that recovered roughly 100 documents with classified markings.
Trump is charged in 37 of the 38 counts listed in the indictment. Nauta is charged solely in one, and they are both charged in six others. 31 of the 37 (counts 1–31) charges against Trump are for willful retention of national security documents in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 793e of the Espionage Act. In relevant part it reads:
Whoever having unauthorized possession of, access to, or control over any document [and] willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it . . . Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.
Counts 32–34 charge Trump and Nauta with conspiring to conceal and with concealing documents in violation of various provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 1512.
Count 35 charges Trump and Nauta with concealing documents from a federal investigation in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1519. The penalty for that is up to 20 years.
Count 36 charges Trump and Nauta with a “scheme to conceal” in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001.
Count 37 charges Trump solely for for causing false statements to be made claiming the subpoena had been fully responded to in violation of 18 USC § 1001.
The 38th count is for Nauta alone for making false statements, in violation of 18 USC § 1001(a)(2), to investigators regarding the movement of boxes from the storage room to Trump’s office.
Overall, the indictment is very detailed for this sort of thing. It lays out a case that is well supported by videotapes, audiotapes, text messages, contemporaneous attorney notes, and pictures.