Feds inform Trump he is target likely to be indicted as DOJ rebuffs prosecutorial misconduct claim
Trump defense has submitted secret evidence alleging a prosecutor tried to sway witness testimony by discussing federal judgeship
Federal prosecutors have notified Donald Trump that he is a criminal target and likely to be indicted imminently in a probe into alleged classified documents – even as the Justice Department declined to delay charges to give time to investigate allegations of witness tampering submitted by the former president’s legal team, according to multiple people on Wednesday familiar with the case.
The sources directly familiar with the case told Just the News that DOJ declined to delay the planned indictment of Trump to investigate allegations that a senior prosecutor working on the case tried to influence a key witness by discussing a federal judgeship with the witness’ lawyer.
That allegation is still pending in a secret case before Chief U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg, the jurist who oversees the federal court in Washington, D.C., and the grand juries that convene in that courthouse, the sources said.
An historic federal indictment crafted by Special Counsel Jack Smith could be handed up by a federal grand jury against the 45th president as early as this week, the sources said.
Trump has already been indicted in a Manhattan court on charges he falsified business expenses to hide hush money payments to a porn star and has pleaded innocent.
Trump has portrayed both cases as part of a broader “witch hunt” and dual system of justice designed to derail his 2024 presidential candidacy.
This week, Trump argued Smith is a partisan and the federal case against him is being treated differently than one against President Joe Biden, who also was found with classified documents in his possession from his time as vice president.
“HOW CAN DOJ POSSIBLY CHARGE ME, WHO DID NOTHING WRONG, WHEN NO OTHER PRESIDENT’S WERE CHARGED, WHEN JOE BIDEN WON’T BE CHARGED FOR ANYTHING,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform in a post in which he also railed against the failure of DOJ to charge Hillary Clinton in 2016 over classified emails kept on her private email server.
“ONLY TRUMP - THE GREATEST WITCH HUNT OF ALL TIME!” he added.
Federal prosecutors deny politics have been involved in their pursuit of Trump.
Smith’s prosecutorial team informed Trump’s legal team in recent days that the charges against the former president could include a violation of 18 U.S. Code Chapter 37 Section 793 that outlaws the “gathering, transmitting or losing” of national defense information. Other charges being considered involve alleged false statements and obstruction of justice, all claims the president and his team have robustly contested in public and in private.
No prior or sitting American president has ever been indicted in federal court, and if the grand jury accepts the prosecutors’ case it will touch off an unprecedented legal battle certain to work its way to the Supreme Court while lingering over the 2024 election in which Trump handily leads the GOP field by as many as 50 points in some polls.
According to multiple sources familiar with the ongoing probe, all of whom talked to Just the News on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media:
Trump’s lawyers have prepared a robust defense based on months of legal research, anticipating Smith might pursue charges. Trump’s lawyers are prepared to argue that a president had broad powers under the Constitution to keep documents or declassify without any fanfare documents from his presidency and take them with him upon leaving office.
They will rely heavily on a U.S. District Court case in Washington more than a decade ago involving former President Bill Clinton that concluded a president had broad and mostly unchallengeable power to determine which documents from his presidency can be kept personally and that any documents moved to Trump’s homes in Mar-a-Lago, Fla., and Bedminster, N.J., fall under that category.
An American Bar Association report in 2022 seemed to agree with Trump’s assertion that “guidelines support his contention that presidents have broad authority to formally declassify most documents that are not statutorily protected, while they are in office.”
Prosecutors plan to counter that authority does not extend to documents containing National Defense Information whose retention or release could jeopardize national security.
They have purportedly introduced to grand jury witnesses a recording Trump’s office made in 2021 during an interview with former chief of staff Mark Meadows’ biographers in which the former president allegedly talked about a document he described as ”confidential” and “secret” and in his possession allegedly written by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley that outlined a war plan against Iran. “Confidentiial” and “secret” are terms that can be used to mark a classified document, or can just be colloquial terms suggesting a document with sensitive.
While prosecutors have not located an exact document matching Trump’s description, they found one with classified markings written by others laying out an Iranian battle plan that Trump returned to the National Archives more than a year ago.
Trump lawyers have developed evidence showing that information from that plan was leaked to a major magazine by a senior military officer and plan to use that as evidence that it no longer can be considered National Defense Information, according to people familiar with both sides of the case.
But one of the first disputes likely to be addressed is evidence the Trump defense team submitted to Boasberg in a secret court proceeding recently and to Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco’s office Monday alleging a senior federal prosecutor working on the case discussed a federal judgeship with a defense lawyer for a key witness.
Monaco’s office informed the Trump team in the last 24 hours that it was rejecting a request to delay the indictment so the allegation could be investigated.
The lawyer was already in line for consideration by the Biden White House for a judgeship when the prosecutor allegedly raised the nomination while trying to get additional testimony from the lawyer’s client, according to sources familiar with the allegation.
The discussion raised concerns among defense lawyers that it was an effort to influence the witness, who has declined to change his testimony because he claims to have no other information about the movement of boxes and artifacts at Mar-a-Lago since he left the White House, the sources said.