Former President Donald Trump lied, conspired and deceived federal investigators in order to preserve sensitive documents he knew were still classified, according to a 37-count federal indictment unsealed Friday.
The indictment, which also names Trump aide Walt Nauta, outlines criminal charges related to more than 100 classified documents that federal agents recovered from Trump’s Florida resort last August.
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He accuses Trump of violating seven different laws, including 31 counts of willfully withholding national defense information and single counts of false statements and representations, conspiracy to obstruct justice, to withhold a document or record, to conceal a document by corruption, to conceal a document in a federal investigation and a scheme to conceal.
Special Counsel Jack Smith, who brought the charges against Trump and Nauta, said in brief remarks on the indictment: “We have a set of laws in this country and they apply to everyone. “.
“I urge everyone to read it in its entirety to understand the extent and seriousness of the crimes charged,” Smith said on Friday. “Our laws that protect national defense information are critical to the safety and security of the United States and they must be enforced. Violations of these laws put our country at risk.”
Some of the charges, including counts of conspiracy and concealment, carry a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing in the case, a position he maintained on Friday, writing in a social media post: “Under the Presidential Records Act, I am authorized to do all of this.” He also criticized Smith, calling him “a Trump Hater – a deranged ‘psycho’ who shouldn’t be involved in ‘justice’ in any way.”
The indictment alleges that when Trump left the White House, he took documents that “included information regarding the defense and armaments capabilities of the United States and foreign countries; US nuclear programs; the potential vulnerabilities of the United States and its allies to military attack; and plans for possible retaliation in response to a foreign attack.
The documents came from all major national security and law enforcement agencies of the U.S. government, including the CIA, Department of Defense, National Security Agency, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, National Reconnaissance Office, Department of Energy and the Department of State and Bureau of Intelligence Research, according to the indictment.
Disclosure of certain contents of the documents “could jeopardize United States national security, foreign relations, the safety of United States military and human sources, and the continued viability of sensitive intelligence-gathering methods,” according to the indictment. ‘charge.
He added that “twice in 2021 Trump showed classified documents to others.”
In one instance, Trump showed a writer, an editor and two members of his staff who did not have security clearances a copy of a “plan of attack” that, according to a recording of Trump, he had described as “highly confidential,” according to the indictment. .
He quotes him saying “as president I could have declassified it” and “now I can’t, you know, but it’s still a secret.”
“It’s secret information. Look, look at this,” he said at another point.
In the second instance, Trump allegedly showed a member of his political action committee a “classified map related to a military operation.” Trump told the person – who did not have a security clearance – that he should not show them the card and told the person not to get too close to it, according to the indictment. charge.
Both of these alleged incidents occurred at Trump’s golf club in New Jersey, meaning the documents were allegedly flown there from Florida.
Read the full indictment.
The indictment further alleges that the documents were stored haphazardly – including for two months in the Mar-a-Lago ballroom, where they were photographed on a stage. They were also held in a business center, bathroom and shower, the filing said.
A photo included in the court filing shows about 30 boxes in a bathroom piled up around a toilet and next to a shower with a chandelier hanging above.
On one occasion in December 2021, Nauta entered the storage room where the boxes had been moved and found that several of them had fallen, with their contents spilled on the floor, including one marked “secret”, according to the ‘indictment.
The indictment also states that Trump was aware of the existence of the boxes and their contents, and allegedly asked Nauta to bring him various boxes from time to time. It also details a series of texts between two Trump employees and Nauta from November 2021 to January 2022 that make it clear the former president wanted to review the boxes before some were returned to the National Archives.
After federal authorities subpoenaed Trump for their return, he reportedly told one of his attorneys, “I don’t want anyone looking in my boxes.”
“Wouldn’t it be better if we just told them we didn’t have anything here?” the attorney quoted Trump as saying. “Isn’t it better if there are no documents?”
The filing says that in the days before the Justice Department came to retrieve the documents pursuant to the subpoena, Nauta removed 64 boxes from the storage room and took them to Trump’s residence at the club. He only brought 30 boxes back to the storage room before the feds arrived.
Nauta and others loaded boxes onto Trump’s plane in the hours before federal authorities arrived at Mar-a-Lago, according to the indictment. Trump visited his New Jersey estate later that day.
The filing also accuses Trump and Nauta of conspiring to mislead Trump’s own attorneys into believing and certifying that all documents had been returned.
Trump maintained that the documents were his at will.
Nauta, Trump’s former White House valet and Navy veteran, initially lied to federal investigators about his involvement and knowledge of the boxes, according to the indictment.
In an interview with federal investigators in May 2022, Nauta denied knowing Trump had boxes in his suite and said he had no idea how they were stored.
“I wish I could tell you. I don’t know,” he said.
He also alleges that he conspired with Trump to “knowingly and willfully falsify, conceal and conceal by every trick, stratagem and device a material fact” they were concealing documents with classification marks from federal authorities.
Nauta’s attorney, Stan Woodward, declined to comment on the charges.
Trump defended Nauta as “a wonderful man” on Truth Social.
“They are trying to destroy his life, like the lives of so many others, hoping he will speak ill of ‘Trump’. He is strong, brave and a great patriot,” Trump wrote on Friday.
The unveiling of the indictment came the same day Trump announced that two of the attorneys representing him in the case, Jim Trusty and John Rowley, were leaving his legal team. “They were up against a very dishonest, corrupt, evil and ‘sick’ bunch of people, the likes of which we’ve never seen before,” Trump wrote on Truth Social.
He added that he was now represented by attorney Todd Blanche, who is also defending Trump in New York Criminal Court, where the former president was charged with 34 counts of falsifying business documents in a case of silence. Trump has pleaded not guilty in the case, which is expected to go to trial in March.
Blanche declined to comment on the indictment.
Trump is due before a magistrate in Miami federal court on Tuesday afternoon.
The indictment estimates that a trial in this case would last 21 days.
The case was assigned to US District Court Judge Aileen Cannon, who last year temporarily halted the FBI’s review of documents that had been recovered from Mar-a-Lago while granting Trump the request. of a special master to examine the evidence.
That ruling was later overturned by a panel of appeals court judges who suggested that Cannon had attempted to “create an unprecedented exception in our law for former presidents.”
This article originally appeared on NBCNews.com