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Trump says he's been indicted tied to classified documents probe

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Former President Trump says he has been charged with a federal crime tied to the investigation into alleged obstruction and mishandling of classified documents. Trump says he has been summoned to appear at a federal courthouse in Miami on Tuesday. He is the first former president to face charges from a government that he once led. NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson has been following this probe and is on the line with us now to talk more about it. Hi, Carrie.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Hey, Ailsa.

CHANG: OK, so what exactly do we know about this indictment at this point?

JOHNSON: We know the indictment came from a federal grand jury in Miami that's been hearing from witnesses. We do not have this document. What we do have is a source familiar saying the indictment includes seven counts, including willful retention of information related to the national defense, at least one false statement charge and at least one charge related to obstruction. Donald Trump himself confirmed the charges on his social media platform where he wrote, quote, "I am an innocent man." And we know this investigation has been led by the special counsel, Jack Smith. He had no comment for now.

CHANG: OK. Let's just step back for a moment. Can you just remind us, Carrie, how this investigation began? - because it's been going on for over a year, right?

JOHNSON: Exactly. This all came into public view last August when the FBI executed a search warrant at Trump's Florida resort called Mar-a-Lago. At that time, the FBI said it was looking into legal violations that included obstruction and retention of information related to national security. Typically when presidents leave office, they coordinate with the National Archives. But the archives said Trump didn't hand over papers that belonged to the American people. Ultimately, the archives brought in the Justice Department, and after lots of back and forth, it turned out the FBI found hundreds of papers that were secret and were not stored in a secure location. Some of those materials related to highly classified topics so sensitive that prosecutors and FBI agents didn't always have the clearance to see them themselves.

CHANG: Right. OK, so just walk us through now what are the next steps at this point?

JOHNSON: Donald Trump says he's due in court on Tuesday afternoon in Miami. He's going to be processed and will make his first appearance probably before a magistrate judge. Security at that courthouse is going to be very tight, and the location is significant, too. There's been a lot of grand jury action in Washington, D.C., but DOJ decided to bring this case in Florida instead. The jury pool could be a lot more favorable to former President Trump there. We're going to learn a lot more about who will oversee this case in the coming days, though.

CHANG: OK. Well, I mean, this is a momentous step taken by the Justice Department, right? Even though it's not the only legal problem for Trump, what else is he facing right now?

JOHNSON: Trump has a lot of legal problems. He's already been indicted in a state case in Manhattan related to hush money payments he allegedly made to Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. And aside from this Mar-a-Lago case, there are two other investigations Trump faces. One is the probe of the effort to overturn the 2020 election. That includes looking at money the campaign and affiliates raised over false claims of election fraud. The other is an investigation by local prosecutors in Georgia. That includes Trump's efforts to pressure the secretary of state to drum up more votes for him. The DA in that case has signaled action there may happen in August.

CHANG: That is NPR's Carrie Johnson. Thank you so much, Carrie, for this update.

JOHNSON: My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Carrie Johnson is a justice correspondent for the Washington Desk.