Donald Trump becomes first former US president to face federal criminal charges

The charges relate to classified documents that the former president had in his possession after he left office in 2021.

Dan Rivers reports on Donald Trump becoming the first US president in history to face federal criminal charges.

Donald Trump has become the first former US president in history to face criminal charges on a federal level.

Trump – who turns 77 next Wednesday (June 14) – faces seven criminal charges relating to alleged mishandling of classified documents, his lawyer confirmed to US network CNN.

James Trusty, Trump’s lawyer, also said the former president will appear in court in Miami next week.

Speaking to CNN, he said he was expecting a copy of the indictment ”sometime between now and Tuesday afternoon.

“If they want to continue to play games, they’ll give it to us at 3:01pm, Tuesday. ”

Donald Trump – who served as the 45th president of the United States – spoke about the charges in a post on his social media platform Truth Social on Thursday night (June 8).

“I never thought it possible that such a thing could happen to a former president of the United States,” Trump said.

“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!”, he added.

The Justice Department did not immediately publicly confirm the indictment. But two people familiar with the situation who were not authorised to discuss it publicly told the Associated Press of the indictment.

One of those people said Trump’s lawyers were contacted by prosecutors shortly before he announced on his Truth Social platform that he had been indicted.

The charges put the Department of Justice at the centre of a politically difficult situation. Its first case against a former president comes as the process has got underway for the Republican party to choose a nominee to face Democrat Joe Biden in the 2024 presidential election.

Trump is currently dominating that race for the Republicans, and charges against him could raise the prospect of a prison sentence.

Within 20 minutes of his announcement, Trump, who said he was due in court Tuesday afternoon, had begun fundraising off it for his 2024 presidential campaign. He declared in a video, “I AM AN INNOCENT MAN!” and repeated his familiar refrain that the investigation is a “witch hunt.”

The case adds to deepening legal jeopardy for Trump, who has already been indicted in New York and faces additional investigations in Washington and Atlanta that also could lead to criminal charges.

As the prosecution moves forward, it will pit Trump’s claims of sweeping executive power against Attorney General Merrick Garland’s insistence that no person, including a former commander in chief, should be regarded as above the law.

The indictment arises from a months-long investigation by special counsel Jack Smith into whether Trump broke the law by holding onto hundreds of documents marked classified at his Palm Beach property, Mar-a-Lago, and whether Trump took steps to obstruct the government’s efforts to recover the records.

Prosecutors have said that Trump took roughly 300 classified documents to Mar-a-Lago after leaving the White House, including some 100 that were seized by the FBI last August in a search of the home that underscored the gravity of the Justice Department’s investigation.

Trump and his team have long seen the special counsel investigation as far more perilous than the New York matter, both politically and legally. Campaign aides had been bracing for the fallout since Trump’s attorneys were notified that he was the target of the investigation, assuming it was not a matter of if charges would be brought, but when.

The Republican presidential hopeful is now expected to appear in court in Miami, Florida, on Tuesday (June 13).

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