Written by David Zimmermann
What happened: The Justice Department filed three new charges against former President Donald Trump last week related to his handling of classified documents. Special Counsel Jack Smith indicted Trump for allegedly ordering the deletion of Mar-a-Lago’s security camera footage to hide evidence from the FBI and a grand jury. The superseding indictment also laid charges against two Trump aides, claiming both were involved in the scheme.
Back up: This is the latest instance of legal attacks on Trump after the FBI searched his Mar-a-Lago estate for classified documents last year. In June, he faced the first part of the federal indictment, which charged him with “willful retention” of classified documents and obstruction of the investigation.
Beyond the headlines: The indictment did not allege that Trump did delete the footage but rather that he attempted to. In reality, he turned over 1,186 days of CCTV footage to federal prosecutors for review. The superseding indictment also offers no direct evidence that Trump himself had attempted to delete any of the footage, though one of Trump’s newly charged aides could be pressured to testify against him.
- Trump himself denied he was attempting to obstruct justice, posting on Truth Social that the tapes “were voluntarily handed over” and that he “never told anybody to delete them.”
Why it matters: Separate from the documents case, Trump’s attorneys met Thursday with Smith’s team for another expected indictment from Smith related to the January 6 Capitol riot and his attempts to rectify what he believed was a stolen election. The legal efforts against Trump aren’t slowing down ahead of the upcoming 2024 election.