Explainer'I don’t want anybody looking through my boxes'

Trump indictment: Storing documents in bathroom, sharing intel on the golf course

Ex-president showed writer, publisher and 2 staff members — none with security clearance — a ‘plan of attack’ prepared by Pentagon, tried to conceal records from FBI, lawyers

This image, contained in the indictment against former US president Donald Trump, shows boxes of records being stored on the stage in the White and Gold Ballroom at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida. (Justice Department via AP)
This image, contained in the indictment against former US president Donald Trump, shows boxes of records being stored on the stage in the White and Gold Ballroom at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida. (Justice Department via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The US Justice Department detailed stunning allegations against former president Donald Trump in a criminal indictment unsealed Friday, including allegations he stored classified documents in a bathroom and shower at his Florida club, flaunted the documents to people without security clearances and at times tried to conceal material from his own lawyers as well as investigators.

In the indictment, prosecutors spell out the types of classified material the Republican presidential candidate is accused of keeping at his Florida beach club after he left office in 2021, along with where he is said to have kept them and what he did with them.

A look at key moments as described in the indictment:

Flaunting documents

In July 2021 at Trump’s Bedminster, New Jersey, golf course, the former president showed a writer, a publisher and two of his staff members — none of whom had a security clearance — a “plan of attack” that had been prepared by the Defense Department and a senior military official. In the meeting, which prosecutors said was recorded on audio, Trump told them the plan was “highly confidential.” “As president, I could have declassified it,” he said. “Now I can’t, you know, but this is still a secret.”

In August or September 2021, more than six months after he was no longer president, Trump showed a classified map of a military operation in a foreign country to someone working for his political action committee who also did not have a security clearance. Trump acknowledged that he should not be showing the staffer the map and warned the staffer not to get too close.

Special counsel Jack Smith speaks to reporters Friday, June 9, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Documents stored in bathroom and shower

Trump, known for keeping mementos, kept hundreds of classified documents, along with newspapers, press clippings, notes and cards in cardboard boxes at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, according to the indictment.

Although “tens of thousands of members and guests” visited the club between the time that Trump left office and that federal agents retrieved the documents in August 2022, Trump had documents stored in various places around the resort, including a ballroom, a bathroom and shower, an office space, his bedroom and a storage room.

The documents 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 a foreign attack,” the indictment said.

‘I don’t want anybody looking through my boxes’

When a grand jury in May 2022 issued a subpoena for classified records at Mar-a-Lago, Trump sought to defy the order, telling his attorneys, “I don’t want anybody looking through my boxes,” according to notes from a lawyer detailed in the indictment. The former president asked his attorneys if it would be better “if we just told them we don’t have anything here,” according to the lawyer’s recollection.

US President Donald Trump sits at his desk after a meeting with Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, left, and members of his staff in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Feb. 8, 2017, as a lockbag is visible on the desk, the key still inside at left. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

Directing lawyer to ‘pluck it out’

One of Trump’s lawyers in June 2022 identified 38 documents with “classified” markings and put them in a folder, which he sealed with duct tape. He then went to see Trump, who asked the attorney: “Did you find anything? Is it bad?… Is it good?”

The attorney told federal investigators that he discussed the folder with Trump and the former president made a gesture that suggested he wanted the attorney to identify “anything really bad” and “you know, pluck it out.” The attorney clarified that Trump did not articulate such instructions beyond making that “plucking motion.” The attorney said he did not “pluck” anything from the folder but instead immediately contacted the FBI and another Trump attorney.

Keeping documents from his lawyers

Trump told his valet Walt Nauta “to move boxes of documents to conceal them” from the FBI, the grand jury and one of his own lawyers, according to the indictment.

The former president agreed at a May 23, 2022, meeting with his lawyers that one of them would return at a later date to look through storage boxes at Mar-a-Lago for classified documents. Before the lawyer could return, prosecutors said, Trump directed Nauta to remove 64 boxes from the storage room and bring them to his residence. He had Nauta return 30 boxes just before the lawyer showed up to look for documents, the indictment said.

Trump’s lawyers turned over some records to authorities on June 3, 2022. Trump told his attorneys that he was “an open book,” even though earlier in the day, Nauta had loaded “several of Trump’s boxes… on aircraft that flew Trump and his family north for summer,” the indictment said.

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