Jun 12, 2023

DOJ Indicts Trump for Allegedly Showing Off Classified Documents and Defying Orders to Return Them Transcript

DOJ Indicts Trump for Allegedly Showing Off Classified Documents and Defying Orders to Return Them Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsClassified DocumentsDOJ Indicts Trump for Allegedly Showing Off Classified Documents and Defying Orders to Return Them Transcript

The Justice Department has formally accused former President Trump of grossly mishandling classified documents. Read the transcript here.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):

Welcome to the News Hour. The Justice Department has formally accused former President Donald Trump of grossly mishandling classified documents. The newly unsealed indictment lists more than three dozen counts in damning detail.

Speaker 2 (00:13):

They allege that Mr. Trump showed casual indifference to protecting secret material, that he defied demands to return the records, and that he asked aides to hide them. Lisa de Jaran starts our coverage.

Lisa de Jaran (00:26):

A first for the Department of Justice.

Jack Smith (00:28):

Good afternoon.

Lisa de Jaran (00:29):

Special Counsel Jack Smith announced the indictment of a former president, Donald Trump, on 37 counts.

Jack Smith (00:36):

Today, an indictment was unsealed charging Donald J. Trump with felony violations of our national security laws, as well as participating in a conspiracy to obstruct Justice.

Lisa de Jaran (00:49):

Smith’s announcement was just a few minutes long. He took no questions, but the unsealed indictment spoke for him. In words and photos, it alleges Trump kept classified documents including military secrets in places like bathrooms, showers, and a ballroom at his Florida estate. The indictment centers around testimony from Trump attorneys about Trump’s own words, alleging he bragged about possessing a senior military officials plan of attack and then went on to say, “As president, I could have declassified it. Now I can’t. It’s still secret.” Later the indictment alleges he told attorneys, “Wouldn’t it be better if we just told them we don’t have anything here?” Last night, the former president took to social media knowing this was coming and railed against the indictment as a political hit job.

Donald Trump (01:36):

Our country is going to hell and they come after Donald Trump weaponizing the Justice Department, weaponizing the FBI. We can’t let this continue to go on because it’s ripping our country to shreds. We have such big problems and this shouldn’t be one of them, so I just want to tell you, I’m an innocent man. I did nothing wrong, and we’ll fight this out just like we’ve been fighting for seven years.

Lisa de Jaran (02:03):

In another turn, today, Trump’s two lawyers announced they are resigning, citing that the case is entering a new phase, but they continued to defend him verbally on television.

James Trusty (02:14):

It puts a stamp of reality on something that really is unreal in terms of the weaponization of a Department of Justice.

Lisa de Jaran (02:21):

The indictment focused on documents taken to Trump’s home, Mar-a-Lago, comes after two years of events starting five months after Trump left the White House in May 2021 when the National Archives emailed his team asking for some missing records. After some back and forth, the next January, Trump’s team handed over 15 boxes. Going through them archives found nearly 200 classified documents and within weeks notified the FBI. While investigating, the FBI says it learned of more documents being withheld. So in May, a grand jury subpoenaed them. In June at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s team turned over more documents, but the FBI states it knew more were still being kept from them. Then in August of last year, the FBI used a warrant to search Mar-a-Lago. Agents say they found over 100 more classified documents, including top secret ones. Trump’s attorneys have written that the FBI was heavy-handed and did not give Trump enough chance to comply. The indictment is multiple layers of unprecedented, not just a former president, but his party’s leading candidate to recapture the White House. In the past day, his GOP opponents responded.

Mike Pence (03:31):

No one is above the law.

Lisa de Jaran (03:33):

Trump’s former Vice President Mike Pence previously had been cleared from investigation after turning over classified documents he found at his house, but he did not weigh in on Trump’s guilt or innocence.

Mike Pence (03:44):

From my years as your vice president and also my years serving on the International Relations Committee in the Congress of the United States, the handling of classified materials of the United States is a serious matter.

Lisa de Jaran (04:00):

Others spent more time on the attack against the DOJ, like South Carolina Senator Tim Scott.

Tim Scott (04:05):

As President of the United States, I would purge all of the injustices and impurities in our system so that every American can have confidence that they will be seen by the Lady of Justice with a blindfold on.

Lisa de Jaran (04:22):

Trump’s main rival Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said in a tweet that, “The weaponization of federal law enforcement is a threat and that there’s been an uneven application of the law.” One Republican presidential candidate said Trump should end his campaign. Former Governor of Arkansas Asa Hutchinson said in a statement, “The criminal proceedings will be a major distraction.” But the highest ranking Republican in power, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy called the indictment unconscionable. He said he wanted accountability and repeated another theme writing that, “Joe Biden kept classified documents for decades.” Secret documents were found at President Biden’s Washington based think tank and at his Delaware residence, but he quickly handed them over. And as far as is known, has cooperated in that investigation. The Department of Justice has a separate special counsel investigation for the Biden documents. As for Trump, he’s been summoned to show up in court on Tuesday in Miami, and his attorneys have said he will be there. For the PBS News Hour, I’m Lisa de Jaran.

Speaker 1 (05:24):

To dive deeper into the unsealed indictment, what we learned this afternoon and how it all fits into the public drama that’s unfolded over the last year, we welcome in NPR National Justice Correspondent Carrie Johnson. Carrie, welcome and thanks for joining us. We’ve been following the work of Special Counsel Jack Smith for over six months now. Today was the first time we heard from him. In those brief remarks, what stood out to you about what he said and how he said it?

Carrie Johnson (05:50):

One of the things that really stood out to me was Jack Smith making a case about the gravity and the scope of these criminal charges. He said, “There are laws in place to protect defense information for a good reason.” It’s really about protecting the safety and security of the United States, of military service members, members of the intelligence community and our foreign partners. And the way in which former President Trump allegedly stored these top secret papers willy-nilly in his resort in Florida put all of that at risk. Jack Smith also talked about having one set of rules for everybody and that the laws apply to people equally, perhaps nodding to the fact this is the first federal case against a former president. Finally, he defended his own staff as being ethical, praised the FBI agents in particular for doing diligent work and announced he hopes to take this case to trial in a speedy fashion. We’ll see how that goes.

Speaker 1 (06:44):

Carrie, the scope and the details of the indictment were really striking as 49 pages, 37 counts. When you look at those counts, they include things like willful retention of national defense information, conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding and concealing of documents, and also making false statements. And that detail in the indictment, Carrie, they had pictures, they had text messages. They had transcripts of audio recordings. What does all of that tell you about how Mr. Smith and his team will try to prove their case?

Carrie Johnson (07:15):

There is a mountain of evidence this special counsel team has been building in part because they received a ruling from a district court judge here in Washington that allowed them to pierce attorney-client privilege, thus allowing Trump’s lawyer, Evan Corcoran, to testify about contemporaneous notes he took and possibly recordings of instructions that Donald Trump gave him. Then we have a tape from one of the people, Donald Trump allegedly showed secret material to or referenced secret material to in 2021 of his Bedminster Club. There’s just so much evidence here, including those photos of how these papers were stored and Trump’s role starting on the day he left office and packing documents to being present at the time that DOJ searched Mar-a-Lago.

Speaker 1 (08:02):

Carrie, what do we need to… Oh, I apologize. I just want to ask you as well about another important name in the indictment, that is Walt Nauta is the valet for former President Trump, former White House staffer. What are prosecutors alleging he did?

Carrie Johnson (08:15):

He’s the aide who allegedly helped move boxes of these documents to and fro within Mar-a-Lago, to put them on an airplane to take them to Bedminster, Trump’s club in New Jersey. And Nauta, when he was confronted with these questions, allegedly lied to the FBI, which forms the basis of a false statements charged. He’s also charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice and a number of other smaller charges with respect to concealing documents from the Feds. He has a very serious case that he faces as well. He’s going to be in court next week alongside the former president.

Speaker 1 (08:49):

And finally, Carrie, in a minute or so we have left. We saw Lisa report there on the response we’ve heard from Mr. Trump. What else are you hearing from him and his legal team and what’s the timeline ahead?

Carrie Johnson (09:00):

The special counsel says he wants a speedy trial. We have to see how many motions the Trump legal team once it gels wants to throw out before this judge in Florida. That could delay these proceedings. But if the special counsel gets his wish, we could have a trial later this year, certainly in the heart of the presidential campaign while Donald Trump is, at this moment, the front-runner for the nomination.

Speaker 1 (09:24):

That is NPR’s National Justice Correspondent Carrie Johnson joining us tonight. Carrie, thank you.

Carrie Johnson (09:30):

Thank you.

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