The latest news in the investigation of Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents
- Former President Donald Trump has been indicted by a federal grand jury in connection with his mishandling of more than 100 classified documents, two sources confirmed to NBC News.
- Trump, who first revealed the news earlier Thursday in a post on his Truth Social platform, faces seven counts, according to his lawyer and another source. The charges include false statements, conspiracy to obstruct and a charge related to the Espionage Act, sources said.
- A federal grand jury in Florida has been meeting in special counsel Jack Smith's investigation of Trump’s handling of classified documents, according to sources familiar with the investigation.
- The Florida grand jury is separate from a panel that was convened in Washington, D.C.
- The investigation began last year when the National Archives alerted the FBI that government documents Trump had returned after having been out of office for about a year included 184 that were marked classified. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.
Live coverage of former President Donald Trump's indictment continues here.
Hawley says he doesn’t know why other Senate Republicans are quiet tonight
In an appearance on Fox News tonight, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., was asked by host Laura Ingraham why members of Senate Republican leadership have not spoken out in support of Trump tonight.
Asked whether he thought they would make public statements, Hawley said: "I don’t know. I can’t speak for anybody else, Laura. And I’ve given up predicting what any other senator might do. But I can just say for myself that I think this is a critical moment in our history as a nation and this is the time to stand up and say we’re going to fight for the rule of law."
Ingraham was more direct in her criticism, saying, "You cannot as an office holder in the Republican Party sit by even if you can't stand Trump for policy reasons, personal, or whatever it is." She also called out the Senate minority leader by name, saying, "Mitch McConnell, this is your moment my friend."
Trump faces same charge under Espionage Act as accused Pentagon leaker Jack Teixeira
One of the charges against Trump is the same one Pentagon leak suspect Jack Teixeira faces under the Espionage Act.
Trump lawyer Jim Trusty said on CNN that the summons included at least one charged related to 18 U.S.C. 793, a section of the Espionage Act that penalizes unlawfully retaining “national defense” information. NBC News later confirmed the charge.
Teixeira, 21, a former member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, is accused of violating the Espionage Act by photographing classified documents, including materials he improperly removed from the base where he worked. He is in jail awaiting trial.
Violations of that section of the statute are punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment.
Trump team is keeping an eye on which GOP leaders are tweeting — and which aren't
The Trump team has noticed that three of the top four House GOP members have defended him on Twitter: Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Majority Whip Steve Scalise and Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, a source close to the former president said.
They haven't seen anything yet from Majority Whip Tom Emmer, however, the source said. And they’re paying close attention.
No members of Senate Republican leadership have tweeted about Trump’s indictment tonight, either. They include: Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Minority Whip John Thune, Republican Conference Chair John Barrasso, Policy Chair Joni Ernst, Conference Vice Chair Shelley Moore Capito and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Steve Danies.
Pence doesn't appear on 'Hannity' for scheduled interview after indictment news
Pence did not appear on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show after news of Trump’s federal indictment broke.
Pence had been scheduled to go on tonight to discuss his White House bid, which he formally announced yesterday, but the show ended up being solely dedicated to the indictment, so Fox and Pence's teams mutually decided to find another time to get the two together, said a source familiar with the matter.
Before the news of the indictment, Pence had tweeted that Hannity was to interview him at 9 p.m. Pence’s tweet about the appearance no longer exists.
A representative for Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and an email to Hannity’s show through his website also had no immediate response.
What comes next in Trump's indictment?
One big question is whether the Justice Department will file a motion to have a federal judge unseal the indictment before Trump's scheduled appearance Tuesday afternoon. Given the information vacuum at the moment, the Justice Department may decide to ask for it to be unsealed right away.
If Trump complies with his summons — one of his attorneys, Jim Trusty, said on CNN that Trump will show up at the courthouse Tuesday — he will most likely face a federal judge for a formal arraignment, when he'll be entitled to hear the charges. He will then enter a plea.
Given the nature of the charges, Trump is likely to be released with a court date to return. While such hearings are typically routine and short, the Justice Department could weigh in on Trump’s making public statements about the case. In the Manhattan case, there was much speculation about whether the judge would impose a gag order, a step he ultimately didn’t take. But he did issue a protective order that prohibits Trump from blasting out on social media certain evidence gathered by prosecutors.
False statements charge: What did Trump say and when?
Trusty, appearing on CNN, also indicated the former president faces a charge related to false statements.
That’s noteworthy because it means authorities plan to accuse Trump of lying to investigators, which raises the following questions: What’s the exchange, with whom, and when did it happen?
Based on public reporting, Trump stopped by and greeted members of the Justice Department and federal agents when they came to his home to retrieve documents in June 2022 (before the search warrant was executed). Whether he said anything at the time that prosecutors found misleading remains to be seen. His aides and lawyers have used Trump's greeting as an example of his trying to work cooperatively with investigators.
DeSantis: 'Weaponization' of law enforcement is 'a mortal threat'
In his first statement since news of Trump's indictment broke, GOP presidential contender Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, said "the weaponization of federal law enforcement represents a mortal threat to a free society."
"We have for years witnessed an uneven application of the law depending upon political affiliation," he tweeted. "Why so zealous in pursuing Trump yet so passive about Hillary or Hunter?"
He continued with a nod to his own campaign: "The DeSantis administration will bring accountability to the DOJ, excise political bias and end weaponization once and for all."
Trump may face conspiracy charge, but others involved are unclear
Trusty also suggested on CNN that Trump faces at least one conspiracy-related charge. That’s significant because prosecutors need to show an agreement between two or more people to prove a conspiracy.
That raises the question of whether the special counsel’s office is going to indict someone else in addition to Trump or whether there will be an unindicted co-conspirator.
Trusty did not name precisely who he believed, other than his client, would face charges.
Trump lawyer Jim Trusty says legal team received 'summons' but doesn't have indictment
Jim Trusty, one of Trump's attorneys, said in an interview on CNN tonight that the former president's legal team received a "summons" that "doesn't perfectly mirror an indictment" but includes language that "suggests what the seven charges would be."
"They basically break out from an Espionage Act charge, which is ludicrous under the facts of this case," Trusty said. "And several obstruction-based-type charges and then false statement charges, which are actually, again, kind of a crazy stretch just from the facts as we know it."
Trusty said that retention of documents was another charge and that he thinks a conspiracy count was listed, as well. He also said Trump's legal team hasn't yet been provided with the indictment.
"This is not biblically accurate, because I'm not looking at a charging document. I'm looking at a summary sheet," he said.
Trusty said he expects Trump's legal team will receive a copy of the indictment between Thursday night and 3 p.m. ET Tuesday, when, he said, the Justice Department has asked Trump and his lawyers to appear in federal court. Trusty said Trump will show up at the courthouse Tuesday.
"You're not going to see him, you know, hide in Scotland. He's going to be ready to handle this case and help his attorneys fight it."
Trump lawyer refers to a charge that could bypass debate over whether he declassified
For the first time publicly, Trump’s attorney confirmed that the former president faces at least one charge related to the Espionage Act.
Trusty said on CNN that the Justice Department provided Trump's team with information related to the charge of willful retention of national defense information. Importantly under that charge, prosecutors do not have to prove the documents were classified. That gives prosecutors a strategic advantage, avoiding a debate about whether Trump did or did not declassify any documents before he left the White House.
The statute criminalizes anyone with “unauthorized possession” of “national defense” material who “willfully” retains it. A string of court decisions has concluded that even if a document is not technically “classified,” someone can be charged under the law as long as the information is “closely held” and the information would be useful to U.S. adversaries.
McCarthy calls Trump indictment a 'brazen weaponization' of power
Some GOP leaders have thrown their support behind Trump following the news of his indictment.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., tweeted: "I, and every American who believes in the rule of law, stand with President Trump against this grave injustice. House Republicans will hold this brazen weaponization of power accountable."
"It is unconscionable for a President to indict the leading candidate opposing him," McCarthy said. He also accused Biden of having held on to classified documents "for decades."
House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., also accused the Biden administration of “weaponizing” the Justice Department.
“This sham indictment is the continuation of the endless political persecution of Donald Trump,” Scalise said in a tweet.
In a statement on Twitter, House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., called the indictment "politically motivated" and a "witch hunt," accusing Biden of having weaponized the Justice Department to indict Trump.
Stefanik wrote that she's committed to "holding government officials accountable for their endless illegal witch hunt against President Trump."
Secret Service personnel to meet with Trump's team tomorrow
Personnel for the Secret Service will meet with Trump's team tomorrow to begin security and logistics planning related to his planned appearance in federal court next week, a Secret Service official said.
Trump is expected to appear in court Tuesday.
White House had no advance knowledge of indictment, official says
The White House had no notice of Trump's indictment and learned about it from media reports, a White House official said.
Earlier Thursday, before Trump announced that he had been informed of the indictment, Biden said he has been hands-off.
“I have never once, not one single time, suggested to the Justice Department what they should do or not do relative to bring any charges or not bring any charges,” Biden said at the end of a joint news conference today with U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the White House.
Raskin says Dems are determined to understand 'full sweep' of Trump's handling of documents'
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, said in a statement that Trump's indictment means he "put our national security in grave danger as he pursued yet another lawless personal agenda by pilfering and hoarding government documents."
Raskin, who was the lead manager for Trump's second impeachment trial after the Jan. 6 riot, responded to criticism from Republicans that the indictment is a result of a "two-tiered" system of justice. He said congressional Republicans should respect the outcome of the special counsel's probe.
"Dangerous rhetoric about a ‘two-tiered system of justice’ — discriminating against the rich no less — in order to prop up the twice-impeached former president not only undermines the Department of Justice but betrays the essential principle of justice that no one is above the commands of law, not even a former President or a self-proclaimed billionaire," he said.
Raskin said Democrats are "determined to understand the full sweep of Trump’s unlawful possession of hundreds of government documents and his offenses against our government and people."
Trump charges include conspiracy to obstruct, false statements
The seven charges Trump faces include making false statements and conspiracy to obstruct, two sources briefed on the charges confirmed.
All of the charges are related to retaining documents and obstructing justice, the sources said.
One of the sources noted that seven charges may not equal seven counts; multiple counts can be connected to each charge.
Pence dodged Trump indictment question in Iowa this week
Moments after Pence launched his campaign Wednesday in Ankeny, Iowa, I asked him face to face whether Trump should end his campaign if a federal indictment came down.
Pence had just said from the stage that Trump had asked him to violate the U.S. Constitution and that anyone who does that should not be president.
He looked me in the eye, patted me on the shoulder and walked away, declining to answer the question.
Pence has not made a statement since news of Trump's indictment broke Thursday evening.
Trump team blasts text messages to GOP lawmakers after indictment
The Trump political team tonight blasted text messages to congressional Republicans sharing Trump's Truth Social post and a video in which the former president declares his innocence, two House GOP lawmakers who received the texts told NBC News.
Trump "has had his political messaging team sharing his views on this and other issues via text since his presidential announcement bid," said Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., who is on the text messaging list.
Rep. Dan Goldman tells NBC News: 'No person, not even a former president, is above the law'
Goldman, D-N.Y., the lead counsel in Trump's first impeachment inquiry in the House and a former federal prosecutor, said tonight that the U.S. was founded on the principle that " no person, not even a former President, is above the law."
"Special counsel Jack Smith is a career prosecutor of the utmost integrity, and despite the surefire attacks that will come his way from Trump’s supporters, I am confident that the special counsel has considered only the facts, evidence and the law — without fear or favor, as he swore to — in deciding to pursue these charges," Goldman said in an interview.
The U.S. legal system is "designed to vindicate the robust rights of all defendants," Goldman said, adding that Trump has the right to a trial by jury and to confront his accusers and to have legal counsel.
"If he believes that the legal or factual basis for his indictment is unfounded, he can make that argument to a judge, who decides the law, or a jury, which decides the facts," he said. "But this case should be litigated in the court of law, not the court of public opinion, and most definitely not the halls of Congress."
GOP presidential candidate Tim Scott defends Trump in Fox interview
Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, a GOP presidential contender, defended Trump in an interview with Fox News tonight, saying he will “continue to pray for our nation” and pray that “justice prevails.”
“We look at every case based on evidence in America,” Scott said. “Every person is presumed innocent, not guilty, and what we’ve seen over the last several years is the weaponization of the Department of Justice against the former president.”
Scott said he has not spoken to Trump since the indictment.
He said that if he is elected president, he would "purge" injustices to give Americans "confidence that they will be seen by the Lady of Justice with a blindfold on."
Scott is the first GOP presidential candidate to have responded to the indictment news on camera.
What the latest polling says about Trump’s classified documents indictment
The new federal charges against Trump over his alleged mishandling of classified documents put him — and voters — in an unprecedented situation as he asks the American people to send him to the White House again while he faces more criminal charges.
Trump’s previous indictment in New York, on charges alleging falsification of business documents, didn’t move the political needle much. In fact, it prompted Republicans to rally around him.
The new federal charges are of a different, serious nature, so it’s unclear how the public may digest the accusations and the coming trial. But recent polling explains what Americans think about the prospect of’s Trump being charged with crimes, including some specifically about an indictment related to his handling of classified documents.
Former RNC chair pushes back on Trump 'witch hunt' allegation: 'He owns this'
Former Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele tonight disputed Trump's characterization that he is the target of a “witch hunt.”
“Donald Trump indicted on 7 counts. Remember: he is in this position because of his own actions; there was no 'witch-hunt'; a federal judge ruled there was probable cause Trump committed a crime. HE owns this,” Steele, a vocal Trump critic, said on Twitter.
Steele led the RNC from 2009 to 2011. He is now a political analyst for MSNBC.
Here are the voting patterns of the counties where a jury may be pulled
The Southern District of Florida can pull jurors from its nine counties: Broward, Dade, Highlands, Indian River, Martin, Monroe, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and St. Lucie.
Six of the counties supported Trump over his Democratic rivals in the 2016 and 2020 elections, though in St. Lucie, the Trump vote hovered at around 50%. Highlands, Indian River, Martin and Okeechobee counties are the strongest GOP strongholds, with over 60% of voters having supported Trump in the 2016 and 2020 elections.
Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020.
In Miami-Dade County, typically a stronghold for the party, Democrats lost significant ground in 2020. In 2016, 64% of voters went to Clinton, while in 2020, 53.4% of voters went to Biden.
The other counties had similar levels of support for each party's candidate in 2016 and 2020.
Republican 2024 contender Asa Hutchinson calls on Trump to end his campaign
Asa Hutchinson, the former Arkansas governor who is running for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, said Trump should end his bid for another term in the White House now that he has been indicted in the classified documents case.
"Donald Trump is entitled to the presumption of innocence," Hutchinson said in a statement. But "the ongoing criminal proceedings will be a major distraction. This reaffirms the need for Donald Trump to respect the office and end his campaign."
"Donald Trump’s actions—from his willful disregard for the Constitution to his disrespect for the rule of law—should not define our nation or the Republican Party," said Hutchinson, who has said the U.S. needs to go in a "different direction" following Trump's four years in the Oval Office.
Congressional Republicans try to tie indictment of Trump to unproven allegations about Biden
Some congressional Republicans have reacted to Trump's indictment by trying to connect it with unproven allegations that Biden was involved in a bribery scheme as vice president.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, tweeted that the indictment came the same day he said the FBI restricted access to redacted allegations about Biden.
Asked about the document earlier Thursday, Biden said, "It's a bunch of malarkey."
2024 contender Chris Christie waiting to comment
Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor and GOP presidential contender who has positioned himself as a vociferous Trump critic, will wait to comment until he can review the text of the indictment and address specifics, sources close to Christie said.
Christie, a former federal prosecutor, endorsed Trump early in the 2016 presidential cycle but has since gone on a blunt offensive against the Republican front-runner.
Trump allies call U.S. a 'banana republic'; no comment yet from McCarthy and McConnell
Some Trump defenders levied charges the U.S. has become a “banana republic” after news that the former president has been indicted federally, while others said it was a good day for the rule of law.
Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas, and Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., were among those criticizing the news, which Trump himself shared on his social media platform, Truth Social.
“We live in a Banana Republic,” Nehls tweeted.
Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., predicted on Fox News that the indictment would lead to Trump’s nomination as the GOP presidential nominee in 2024. She repeated “banana republic” on the network.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., did not immediately comment.
Rep. Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y., tweeted "A friendly reminder… no one is above the law. Not even a former President.
Pence to appear on Fox News within the hour
Pence will appear on Fox News at 9 p.m. ET for an interview with host Sean Hannity, the new 2024 presidential candidate tweeted.
The tweet was sent before news of his former boss' second indictment broke.
Republican and Democratic lawmakers react to Trump indictment
Members of Congress were quick to react tonight to Trump's indictment, though leaders of both chambers have yet to weigh in.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, tweeted: "Sad day for America. God Bless President Trump."
Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee, led by Jordan tweeted: “WITCH HUNT."
Across the aisle, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., tweeted: "For four years, he acted like he was above the law. But he should be treated like any other lawbreaker. And today, he has been."
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., tweeted, "The former twice-impeached president is now twice-indicted."
Trump asserts he's innocent in 4-minute video
Trump released a 4-minute video on Truth Social arguing that he's innocent of the indictment against him and that he has been targeted for seven years since he ran for president.
"They can’t stop, because it’s election interference at the highest level. There’s never been anything like what’s happened. I’m an innocent man. I’m an innocent person," he said.
He said that it is "warfare" and that the country is "going to hell."
"We can't let this continue to go on, because it's ripping our country to shreds. We have such big problems, and this shouldn't be one of them," he said. "It's a hoax. The whole thing is a hoax, just like Russia, Russia, Russia. Just like the fake dossier was a hoax."
Trump continued: "So, I just want to tell you, I'm an innocent man, I did nothing wrong. And we will fight this out just like we've been fighting for seven years. It would be wonderful if we could devote our full time to making America great again."
GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy pledges to pardon Trump if he's convicted
Vivek Ramaswamy, a wealthy biotech entrepreneur and investor who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, blasted Trump's indictment as an "affront to every citizen" and vowed to pardon him should he win the 2024 election.
"It would be much easier for me to win this election if Trump weren’t in the race, but I stand for principles over politics," Ramaswamy said in a statement. "I commit to pardon Trump promptly on January 20, 2025 and to restore the rule of law in our country."
Ramaswamy is the first GOP presidential candidate to comment on Trump's indictment in the classified documents case. He is widely considered a long shot for the nomination.
Trump indicted on seven charges, lawyer says
Trump has been indicted on seven counts, according to his attorney John Rowley. A second source confirmed the number of charges.
The specific charges are still unknown.
Trump attorney Alina Habba says she is 'petrified for the country'
In an appearance on Fox News, Trump attorney Alina Habba said Trump's indictment "shows what a sick world we are living in."
"For the president to be indicted for something that every other president, every other non-president, including vice presidents, have done shows what a sick world we are living in. I am petrified for the country at the moment," Habba said.
Asked whether she has spoken with the former president since he was indicted, Habba said, "I would never discuss any privileged conversations that I have, of course, I can tell you that."
"Obviously he put something out which says he has been indicted. It speaks for itself," she said, referring to Trump's Truth Social post.
White House declines to comment
A White House spokesman declined to comment on Trump’s latest indictment.
The spokesman referred NBC News to the Justice Department, saying it “conducts its criminal investigations independently.”
The Justice Department cannot comment because the indictment is under seal, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Trump is first former president to face federal criminal charges
Trump, who made history in being impeached twice, is now also the first former president to face federal criminal charges.
The grand jury's decision is the culmination of a monthslong Justice Department investigation now led by special counsel Jack Smith, who was appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Smith, who was appointed in November after Trump announced his 2024 run for the Republican nomination, took over existing investigations into Trump’s handling of classified documents found at his Mar-a-Lago home, as well as “key aspects” of the Justice Department’s investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and efforts to obstruct the peaceful transfer of power.
Trump has been indicted, sources confirm
Trump has been indicted, two sources confirmed to NBC News.
As he suggested on Truth Social, Trump has received a summons to appear in U.S. District Court at 3 p.m. Tuesday, one of the sources said.
Special counsel declines to comment
A spokesperson for special counsel Jack Smith declined to comment. The indictment is under seal, said a source familiar with the development.
Donald Trump Jr. reacts to indictment news: 'We're living in a 3rd world Banana Republic'
Trump's oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., tweeted in response to the news of his father's indictment that Trump must now be re-elected to a second term in the White House.
Trump Jr. retweeted screenshots of his father's posts on Truth Social announcing the news.
Trump calls apparent indictment a 'dark day'
In a post on Truth Social, Trump called his alleged federal indictment a "dark day."
"This is indeed a DARK DAY for the United States of America. We are a Country in serious and rapid Decline, but together we will Make America Great Again!"
Trump sends out fundraising email saying he's been indicted
The former president sent out a fundraising email just after 7:30 p.m. ET announcing that he's been indicted.
"We are watching our Republic DIE before our very eyes," the email said. "The Biden-appointed Special Counsel has INDICTED me in yet another witch hunt regarding documents that I had the RIGHT to declassify as President of the United States."
It continued, "This witch hunt began when the FBI RAIDED my home and then staged it to look like a made-for-TV crime scene with police sirens and flashing red and blue lights."
Trump said that it's "nothing but a disgusting act of Election Interference."
He asked his supporters to "make a contribution to peacefully stand" with him.
Trump says DOJ has 'informed my attorneys that I have been Indicted'
In a post on Truth Social, Trump said his lawyers were informed he's been indicted.
"The corrupt Biden Administration has informed my attorneys that I have been Indicted, seemingly over the Boxes Hoax," Trump wrote on Truth Social.
"I have been summoned to appear at the Federal Courthouse in Miami on Tuesday, at 3 PM. I never thought it possible that such a thing could happen to a former President of the United States, who received far more votes than any sitting President in the History of our Country, and is currently leading, by far, all Candidates, both Democrat and Republican, in Polls of the 2024 Presidential Election. I AM AN INNOCENT MAN!"
Lawyer for witness alleges prosecutorial misconduct in Trump docs probe
A lawyer for Trump’s butler and body man — whose bills are being paid by a Trump political organization — alleges in court papers that a key prosecutor in the classified documents case inappropriately sought to pressure him by bringing up his application for a judgeship in Washington, D.C., according to a source familiar with the matter.
The lawyer, Stanley Woodward, represents Walt Nauta, who is under scrutiny by investigators about his shifting accounts of whether he moved boxes of documents at Mar-a-Lago at Trump’s urging.
In a letter filed under seal with the chief federal judge in Washington, the source said Woodward alleged that Jay Bratt, the Justice Department’s chief of counterintelligence, raised the issue of the judgeship at a meeting in October at the Justice Department, where prosecutors were trying to convince Woodward that Nauta had lied and should cooperate in the investigation. Bratt has been working for more than a year on the classified documents case.
The allegation was first reported by The Guardian. Woodward did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for the special counsel declined to comment.
Trump says he's been 'targeted from the beginning'
In a radio interview this afternoon, Trump argued that he's been “targeted from the beginning” ever since he descended the escalator at Trump Tower in 2015 to launch his presidential campaign.
"The day I came down the escalator and said I was going to run, I was targeted. And it's a disgrace," Trump told conservative radio host Bo Snerdley on WABC.
During the 15-minute interview, in which he also listed his administration's accomplishments, Trump didn't specifically address the investigations into him. But he reiterated that he wasn't happy with the result of the 2020 presidential election.
"Then we had a ridiculous result in the election. Everybody knows it was ridiculous," he said.
Biden says he has never told Justice Dept. whether to charge anyone
President Joe Biden said the American public should trust the decision-making of the Justice Department despite criticism from Trump that it is acting as a political apparatus.
"Because you notice, I have never once, not one single time suggested to the Justice Department what they should do or not do relative to bring any charges or not bring any charges. I am honest,” Biden said in response to a question at the end of a joint press conference today with U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the White House.
Jeh Johnson: Illustrating significance of classified Trump docs to jurors to be an 'interesting challenge'
Communicating the risks posed by Trump's holding of classified documents to jurors will be an "interesting challenge for prosecutors," former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports."
“How do you get a panel of lay jurors to appreciate the serious compromise of national security if they can’t see the documents?" Johnson said, referring to their classified markings. "Do we pick a jury that can pass a security clearance... or do you redact the documents and somehow give them some amorphous description?"
Johnson, who served under then-President Barack Obama, also argued that any case against Trump in the classified documents probe "should be brought to the Southern District of Florida" since both "the documents were there" and "his home is there."
Biden classified documents investigation still ongoing
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the DOJ...
The federal investigation into President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents shows few signs of an imminent conclusion even as the probes into former Vice President Mike Pence and former President Donald Trump have reached or appear to be reaching an end, according to three people familiar with the matter.
Biden’s advisers, for instance, have determined he would provide an interview to the special counsel investigating his handling of classified documents once the president’s legal team and the Justice Department agree on the conditions, these people said.
But Biden has yet to be interviewed, they said, suggesting that the investigation is not yet nearing a close. Interviewing the individual at the center an investigation, if such a step takes place, is typically among the final actions before a probe is complete.
GOP senators remain tight-lipped on potential Trump indictment
Several Republican senators held back on weighing in on a potential indictment of Trump when asked by NBC News, following Senate Judiciary and Finance Committee hearings this morning:
- Senate Republican Whip John Thune, R-S.D., called an indictment of Trump a “hypothetical” and wants to see “the process play out” before commenting further. The No. 2 Senate Republican, however, said that “people in this country are ready for generational change, and a change in the tone in our politics” and that “there’s an exhaustion factor, there’s a fatigue factor with the American people.” Thune, who endorsed Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina for the GOP presidential nomination, said there is “always a lot of drama” when it comes to Trump.
- Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said “we better wait” before making any comment about an indictment.
- Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, declined to comment on the potential indictment until “we know the facts,” adding that the former president still has a strong base and “voters will make up their own mind.”
- Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a top Trump ally, said he is “not gonna speculate” but if the former president is indicted, “I’ll comment.”
- Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., said that “we have to let the process go through” and that if there is an indictment, then reporters can ask him questions “when we’ve got a real situation versus a hypothetical.”
Why move the investigation to Florida?
For months, the special counsel's office has been presenting evidence in the classified documents case before a grand jury in Washington, D.C. But in recent days, awareness of a second grand jury became public, leading to speculation that charges could ultimately be brought in Florida.
Experts tell NBC News there are significant legal reasons for prosecutors to charge Trump in Florida. Appellate lawyers inside the Justice Department may have advised Smith on these legal issues, they say.
Part of the move south might be because the special counsel is considering charging Trump or those around him with obstruction of justice.
Generally in the federal system, prosecutors can bring an obstruction of justice case in the district in which the investigation being obstructed originated. In this Trump matter, that’s D.C.
But there was a court decision in D.C. that essentially says prosecutors must bring an obstruction case where the obstructive acts occurred. In the Trump case, those acts allegedly happened in Florida. This decision (U.S. v. Swann) is not binding case law, but legal experts believe it makes bringing the case in D.C. vulnerable to challenge.
Add another wrinkle, as Andrew Weissmann writes, is a pending Supreme Court case that could make it extremely risky for prosecutors to make the wrong decision on where to bring a case. Picking the wrong venue could get the case tossed without the option to refile.
Christie calls Trump's legal woes 'self-inflicted,' says Republicans are 'tired of losing'
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called Trump's legal troubles "self-inflicted wounds" in an interview with Fox News this morning, adding that the former president should "return the documents."
Christie, who formally launched his bid for the White House earlier this week, also blamed Trump for what he considers the Republican Party's poor performance in recent elections.
"We haven't been able to win anything since" Trump won in 2016, he said. Republicans "lost the House in 2018, lost the Senate and the White House in 2020, those Georgia Senate seats in early '21, and we horribly underperformed in 2022."
"We're tired of losing," Christie added.
Prosecutor Harbach returns from lunch
David Harbach, a prosecutor with the special counsel’s investigation, has returned from lunch and is back in the grand jury room.
He ignored requests for comment. He did get two bags of chips.
Prosecutor Harbach leaves for lunch
David Harbach, a prosecutor with the special counsel's investigation, has left for lunch.
"I'm just trying to get my lunch," he said, not answering shouted questions from reporters.
Ex-Trump lawyer: Classified and unclassified documents mixed in every admin
Former Trump attorney Tim Parlatore told MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell today that in every recent presidential administration, classified and unclassified documents have gotten mixed together. The answer provided a bit of a preview of what kind of defense Trump might make.
"The reality is, the problem with document management systems in the White House is that classified documents and unclassified documents can get mixed together. That’s not a Donald Trump problem," Parlatore said. "That’s a White House problem."
Special counsel appears to be in Washington this morning
NBC News spotted Smith's two-SUV motorcade arriving at his office in Washington, D.C., at 9:35 a.m.
Special counsel prosecutor spotted entering the courthouse
David Harbach, a prosecutor working with the special counsel’s investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents, was spotted heading into the grand jury meeting room at the federal courthouse in Miami.
The seasoned trial lawyer previously tried more than 35 cases in federal and state courts. He prosecuted public corruption trials in New York, Washington and Virginia and briefly worked at the FBI from 2014 to 2015 for then-Director James Comey.
Trump hurls bribery claim against unnamed DOJ prosecutor in all-caps Truth Social post
Hours after his lawyers were told by the Justice Department that he is the target of the special counsel’s investigation, Trump took to his Truth Social platform late last night to unload bribery allegations against an unnamed prosecutor.
“Shocking! One of the top prosecutors at the Department of Injustice was reportedly so obsessed with 'getting Trump' that he tried to bribe & intimidate a lawyer representing someone being targeted & harassed to falsely accuse and fabricate a story about President Donald J. Trump & a crime that doesn't exist," the former president wrote in capital letters.
Trump appeared to be referring to reporting by John Solomon, a right-wing political commentator and founder of the Just the News website. Solomon posted on his partisan site that the Justice Department declined to delay the planned indictment of Trump to investigate allegations that a senior prosecutor working on the case tried to influence a key witness by discussing a federal judgeship with the witness’s lawyer.
NBC News has not independently confirmed Trump's claim on the bribery allegation.
Pence says he hopes DOJ 'thinks better' of indicting Trump
Former Vice President Mike Pence, who launched his presidential bid yesterday, said he hopes the Justice Department “thinks better” of indicting Trump, arguing that it would be “terribly divisive for the country.”
“This kind of action by the DOJ would only fuel further division in the country,” Pence said during a CNN town hall last night, while pointing to issues like inflation that he views as more urgent matter.
“And let me also say I think it would also send a terrible message to the wider world,” he added. “I mean, we’re the emblem of democracy, we’re the symbol of justice in the world, and the serious matter, which has already happened once in New York, of indicting a former president of the United States sends a terrible message to the world. I hope the DOJ thinks better of it and resolves these issues without an indictment.”
Asked whether Trump shouldn’t be charged even if prosecutors find he broke the law, Pence said “no one is above the law” and argued that because there are “unique circumstances” in Trump’s case, he hopes the Justice Department would resolve the case without having to indict his former boss.
Trump has been told he's a target. What does that mean?
There are three general categories in criminal investigations: a witness (someone with relevant information), a subject (someone whose conduct is within the realm of the grand jury’s work) and a target (someone prosecutors believe committed a crime).
Prosecutors don’t subpoena targets. Instead, sometimes they send a letter inviting targets to come in and testify if they wish (recall that something similar happened near the end of the Manhattan hush money investigation before Trump was indicted in that case). But sometimes it is done verbally. It’s all a matter of discretion.
Justice Department regulations say: “The prosecutor, in appropriate cases, is encouraged to notify such person a reasonable time before seeking an indictment in order to afford him or her an opportunity to testify before the grand jury.”
Recipients of target letters are often, but not always, indicted.