Donald Trump says he's been indicted over handling of classified documents

Donald Trump says he's been indicted on charges of mishandling classified documents at his Florida estate, igniting a federal prosecution that is arguably the most perilous of multiple legal threats against the former U.S. president as he seeks to reclaim the White House.

Trump facing seven criminal counts in the federal case, media reports say

A man with yellow hair and thick face make up gestures as he speaks at a podium.
Former U.S. president Donald Trump says he has been indicted on charges of mishandling classified documents at his Florida estate. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

Former U.S. president Donald Trump wrote on social media on Thursday that he has been indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice, apparently for mishandling sensitive government documents.

The criminal case amounts to another legal setback for Trump as he seeks to regain the U.S. presidency next year. He already faces a criminal case in New York that is due to go to trial in March.

"The corrupt Biden Administration has informed my attorneys that I have been Indicted, seemingly over the Boxes Hoax," Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform.

Several media outlets said Trump has been indicted on seven counts related to his handling of classified documents and obstruction of justice.

Trump wrote that he had been summoned to appear at the federal courthouse in Miami on Tuesday. "I AM AN INNOCENT MAN!" he wrote on his Truth Social platform.

Within 20 minutes of his announcement, Trump had begun using the news to raise funds for his 2024 presidential campaign.

Two men in dark suits and a woman in a red suit stand in a hallway.
Trump lawyers James Trusty, left, Lindsey Halligan and John Rowley, leave the U.S. Justice Department Monday after meeting with Justice Department officials over the Trump Mar-a-Lago classified documents case. (Sarah Lynch/Reuters)

13,000 documents seized last year

Trump's attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for Special Counsel Jack Smith, who is handling the investigation, declined to comment.

Reuters could not immediately confirm what charges Trump is facing.

The indictment remains under seal, and even Trump himself has not yet seen what it says. His legal team was notified about the seven charges as part of a summons ordering Trump to appear in court on Tuesday in Miami, a source told Reuters.

In a sworn statement to a federal court last year, an FBI agent said there was probable cause to believe several crimes were committed, including obstruction and the illegal retention of sensitive defence records.

The U.S. Justice Department has been investigating whether Trump mishandled classified documents he retained after leaving the White House in 2021.

Investigators seized roughly 13,000 documents from Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., nearly a year ago. One hundred were marked as classified, even though one of Trump's lawyers had previously said all records with classified markings had been returned to the government.

Trump has previously defended his retention of documents, suggesting he declassified them while president. However, Trump has not provided evidence of this, and his attorneys have declined to make that argument in court filings.

Documents, some conatining the word SECRET, are seen spread on a paisley patterned carpet.
An image contained in a court filing by the U.S. Department of Justice on Aug. 30, 2022, and partially obscured by the source, shows a photo of documents seized during the FBI's Aug. 8 search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. (Department of Justice/The Associated Press)

2nd indictment for Trump

It marks the second time that Trump, the first former president in U.S. history to face criminal charges, has been indicted.

In April, he pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records relating to hush money paid to a porn star before the 2016 election.

President from 2017 to 2021, Trump is the front-runner in the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

Through the years Trump has shown an uncanny ability to weather controversies that might torpedo other politicians. He describes himself as the victim of a politically motivated witch hunt and accuses the U.S. Justice Department of partisan bias.

A photo from above a sprawling hotel complex with palm trees and the ocean visible.
Investigators seized 13,000 documents from Mar-a-Lago nearly one year ago. (Steve Helber/The Associated Press)

Trump's lead has grown over his rivals in the Republican nominating contest since he was indicted in the New York case, Reuters/Ipsos polling shows.

Trump also faces a second federal criminal investigation into efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss to U.S. President Joe Biden, a Democrat.

Trump is currently in Bedminster, N.J. A person familiar with the situation who was not authorized to discuss it publicly said Trump's lawyers were contacted by prosecutors shortly before he announced on his Truth Social platform that he had been indicted.

With files from The Associated Press