Donald Trump has been indicted!
It’s a relief to be able to type those words for a second time, because it signifies that we are still — at least for now — a country where the rule of law means something. Where treachery and egregious criminal behavior have consequences. And where the powerful and entitled can’t expect to evade accountability.
The indictment, charged by a grand jury in Florida, consists of thirty-eight counts brought against Trump and a minion, Waltine Nauta:
- Counts 1–31 allege that the defendants engaged in the illegal, willful retention of national defense information, a violation of (18 U.S.C. 793(e).
- Count 32 alleges a Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice, (18 U.S.C. § 1512(k)
- Count 33 alleges that a document or record was illegally withheld, in violation of (18 U.S.C. 1512(b)(2)(A), 2)
- Count 34 alleges that the defendants corruptly concealed a document or record, a violation of (18 U.S.C. §§ 1512(c)(1),2)
- Count 35 alleges that the defendants knowingly concealed a document in a federal investigation (18 U.S.C. §§ 1519, 2)
- Count 36 alleges a scheme to conceal in violation of (18 U.S.C. 1001(a)(1),2)
- Count 37 alleges false statements and representations, in violation of (18 U.S.C. §§ 1001(a)(2),2)
- Count 38 alleges more false statements and representations, in violation of (18 U.S.C. § 1001(a) (2))
The indictment charges that Trump unlawfully took and retained classified information that did not belong to him after exiting the White House.
“The classified documents Trump stored in his boxes included information regarding defense and weapons capabilities of both the United States and foreign countries; United States nuclear programs; potential vulnerabilities of the United States and its allies to military attack; and plans for possible retaliation in response to foreign attack. The unauthorized 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,” it says.
After it was discovered that Trump had stolen classified materials, he lied about his actions and obstructed the federal government’s efforts to recover the documents, because he didn’t want to give them back.
Trump endeavored to obstruct the investigation, the indictment says, by:
- suggesting that his attorney falsely represent to the FBI and grand jury that
Trump did not have documents called for by the grand jury subpoena;
- directing defendant Waltine Nauta to move boxes of documents to
conceal them from Trump’s attorney, the FBI, and the grand jury;
- suggesting that his attorney hide or destroy documents called for by the
grand jury subpoena;
- providing to the FBI and grand jury just some of the documents called for by the grand jury subpoena, 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
Remember how Republicans endlessly yelped about Hillary Clinton’s email server and argued she should be in prison? Clinton’s conduct wasn’t criminal, and this conduct clearly is, yet we’re hearing very few Republicans condemn it. That’s because of the IOKIYAR principle: It’s Okay If You’re A Republican.
It was okay for Trump to blatantly, flagrantly violate our county’s laws and then lie about it, because he can do no wrong. Remember when Nixon said, It’s okay if the President does it? Stick the word Republican in there and you’ve basically got the Republican Party’s viewpoint on this situation. It would not be okay for a Democratic president to take classified material to his home, even inadvertently, as President Joe Biden has disclosed doing. But it was okay for Trump to. Trump gets a pass. In fact, Kevin McCarthy is even pledging to run interference for him!
The evidence in this case is rock solid. Special Counsel Jack Smith has dotted all of his i’s and crossed all of his t’s. Trump is still entitled to the presumption of innocence like any other American — a right we all enjoy that Trump has failed to respect in the past — but we see no difficulties for the government in proving its case. It seems very open and shut. And given that Trump is a pathological liar, his protestations about this being a witch hunt and persecution are not credible.
Importantly, the indictment holds Trump accountable for his own broken promises concerning the respect and reverence of classified information, by calling attention to many of the occasions when Trump spoke about the topic:
As a candidate for President of the United States, Trump made the following public statements, among others, about classified information:
a. On August 18, 2016, Trump stated, “In my administration I’m going to enforce all laws concerning the protection of classified information. No one will be above the law.”
b. On September 6, 2016, Trump stated, “We also need to fight this battle by collecting intelligence and then protecting, protecting our classified secrets. We can’t have someone in the Oval Office who doesn’t understand the meaning of the word confidential or classified.”
c. On September 7, 2016 , Trump stated, “[O]ne of the first things we must do is to enforce all classification rules and to enforce all laws relating to the handling of classified information.”
d. On September 19, 2016, Trump stated, “We also need the best protection of classified information.”
e. On November 3, 2016, Trump stated, “Service members here in North Carolina have risked their lives to acquire classified intelligence to protect our country.”
You can read the full indictment here:JUN23-Trump-Indictment
More indictments are likely coming. Trump may, by the end of this year, be defending himself against four sets of criminal charges in different jurisdictions. All while he’s running for the highest office in the land. Again.
That’s something he should have been barred from doing by Congress, but Mitch McConnell and his Republican caucus refused to have the decency or the sense to put country above party and convict Trump of the charges the House impeached him on like they should have — even in the wake of the January 6th insurrection. That massive error in judgment will go down near the top of the list of the many bad decisions McConnell has made that have hurt this country.
Trump is expected to be arraigned on Tuesday in Miami. He seems to be pining for a repeat of January 6th, but the FBI, Secret Service, and local police will be working together to minimize the possibility of violent conduct.