The indictment of Donald Trump for mishandling classified documents at his Florida home has brought renewed attention to one of the most high-profile cases in Justice Department history.
The federal charges represent the biggest legal risk yet for Trump, coming less than three months after he was indicted in New York on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.
Here’s a look at the charges, the special counsel’s investigation, and how Trump’s case differs from those of other politicians known to be in possession of classified documents:

What are the fees?

Trump has been charged with seven counts of mishandling classified documents, two people familiar with the indictment but not authorized to speak about it publicly said. One person said that the charges themselves are not clear and remain classified.
Trump announced Thursday night on his Truth Social that Justice Department attorneys had notified his legal team of his indictment. He said he is scheduled to appear in court in Miami on Tuesday afternoon.
It was not immediately clear if anyone else would be charged in the case.

How did this case happen?

National Archives and Records Administration officials reached out to representatives for Trump in the spring of 2021 when they realized that important materials from his time in office were missing from their collection.
According to the Presidential Records Act, White House documents are the property of the US government and must be preserved.
A Trump representative told the National Archives in December 2021 that presidential records had been found at Mar-a-Lago. In January 2022, the National Archives recovered 15 boxes of documents from Trump’s Florida home, later telling Justice Department officials that they contained “a lot” of classified material.
That May, the FBI and Department of Justice issued a subpoena regarding classified documents remaining in Trump’s possession. Investigators who went to visit the property weeks later to collect records received nearly thirty documents and sworn statements from Trump’s lawyer certifying that the requested information had been returned.
But this assertion turned out to be false. With a search warrant, federal officials returned to Mar-a-Lago in August 2022 and seized more than 33 boxes and containers totaling 11,000 documents from a storage room and office, including 100 classified documents.
In all, nearly 300 documents with the hashtags — including some at a top secret level — have been recovered from Trump since he left office in January 2021.

How did a private consultant participate?

Last year, the US Attorney General Merrick Garland selected Jack Smitha veteran war crimes prosecutor with a background in public corruption investigations, to lead investigations into the presence of classified documents at Trump’s Florida estate, as well as key aspects of a separate investigation related to the January 6, 2021 insurrection and efforts to undo the 2020 election.
Smith’s appointment marked Garland’s acknowledgment of the politics involved in the investigation of a former president and current White House candidate. Garland himself was chosen by Democratic President Joe Biden, whom Trump seeks to challenge for the White House in 2024.
Special counsels are appointed in cases where the Department of Justice considers itself to be in conflict or when it is in the public interest for someone from outside the government to take responsibility for a matter.
According to the Code of Federal Regulations, a special counsel must have “a reputation for integrity and impartial decision-making,” as well as an “informed understanding of criminal law and Department of Justice policies.”

What is the pointer?

An indictment is the formal charge brought against a person after a grand jury—made up of members of the community—enough members agree that there is sufficient evidence to charge someone with a crime.
The indictment against Trump remains sealed. But once made public, the document will specify the crime or crimes Trump is accused of. Indictments sometimes include a lengthy narrative with lots of detail about the allegations, while others are more basic and only spell out the charges the defendant faces.

Didn’t Biden and former Vice President Mike Pence also have classified documents?

Yes, but the circumstances of their cases are very different from the situation involving Trump.
After secret documents were found at a Biden think tank and Pence’s home in Indiana, their lawyers notified authorities and quickly arranged for their delivery. They also allowed other searches by federal authorities to search for additional documents.
There is no indication that he was aware of the existence of the records before they were found, and no evidence has emerged so far that Biden or Pence sought to conceal the discoveries. This is important because the DOJ has historically looked for intransigence in deciding whether to file criminal charges.
A special counsel was hired earlier this year to investigate how the classified materials ended up in Biden’s home and former Delaware office. But even if the Justice Department finds Biden’s case prosecutable based on the evidence, its Office of Legal Counsel has concluded that the president enjoys immunity from prosecution during his time in office.
As for Pence, the Department of Justice told his legal team earlier this month that it would not file criminal charges against him for his handling of the documents.

Does a federal sign prevent Trump from running for president?

No, neither the indictment itself nor the conviction will prevent Trump from running for or winning the presidency in 2024.
And as the New York case showed, criminal charges have historically been his fundraising boon. The campaign announced that it had raised more than $4 million in the 24 hours after this indictment was made public, widely breaking the previous record after the FBI’s search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club.


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