Donald Trump took hundreds of classified documents, detailing everything from U.S. nuclear programs to how the nation might respond to a foreign attack, according to a 38-count federal indictment unsealed Friday. 

The former president of the United States, the government alleges, hid boxes including these classified documents— like papers from the CIA, Pentagon and NSA— in the bathroom, inside a shower, ballroom, an office space, his bedroom and a storage room at his resort and personal residence Mar-a-Lago.

The government has charged both Trump and his personal aide and “body man” Walt Nauta as a co-conspirator. The counts include allegations of willful retention of national defense documents, corruptly concealing a document, conspiracy to obstruct justice, among others. “The purpose of the conspiracy was for TRUMP to keep classified documents he has taken with him from the White House and to hide and conceal them from a federal grand jury,” the indictment states.

The indictment trails how the boxes with classified documents were moved around his property, including an alleged text message conversation between Trump staffers in which one suggests, “There is still a little room in the shower where his other stuff is,” when discussing where to relocate the papers. In another scene, the indictment claims Nauta, after discovering some of the boxes had fallen over in a Mar-a-Lago storage room— exposing documents’ “SECRET” labels— texted a fellow Trump employee about the spillage.

Trump has also been accused of sharing classified documents with people who did not have security clearance. But when the government subpoenaed any classified documents, the indictment alleges that Trump suggested to his lawyers in 2022 that it would be “better” to say he was not in possession of any. Per the indictment, Trump also asked what would happen if his lawyers just didn’t respond to a subpoena seeking classified files, and directed Nauta to move documents to conceal them from his own attorneys:

“I don’t want anybody looking, I don’t want anybody looking through my boxes, I really don’t, I don’t want you looking through my boxes,” Trump said, as recounted by the indictment, which cited how one of the attorneys had “memorialized” the conversation. 

“Well what if we, what happens if we just don’t respond at all or don’t play ball with them?” Trump is alleged to have said. The indictment also quotes Trump as allegedly saying, “Wouldn’t it be better if we just told them we don’t have anything here?” and, “Well look isn’t it better if there are no documents.” 

“Our laws that protect national defense information are critical for the safety and security of the United States and they must be enforced,” special counsel  Jack Smith said in a statement after the indictment was unsealed, adding that “we have one set of laws in this country and they apply to everyone.”

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Trump announced on Thursday night that he was facing federal charges, posting on Truth Social that “the corrupt Biden Administration has informed my attorneys that I have been Indicted, seemingly over the Boxes Hoax.” He continued to defend his actions Friday, suggesting documents in question were his “personal records,” while also lashing out at Smith. Republican lawmakers, 2024 GOP contender, and right-wing media figures quickly came to his defense, albeit before the details of the indictment were unsealed. 

Read the full indictment here

This article was updated following Smith’s statement. 


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