Special Counsel Jack Smith issued a televised statement Friday afternoon following the indictment of former President Trump on dozens of criminal counts for his retention of classified documents.
“This indictment was voted by a grand jury of citizens from the Southern District of Florida,” Smith stated, adding “I invite everyone to read it in full to understand the scope and the gravity of the crimes charged.
The 44-page document can be read here.
Smith went on to explain the reasoning behind the indictment.
“The men and women of the United States intelligence community and our armed forces dedicate their lives to protecting our nation and its people,” he said. “Our laws that protect national defense information are critical to the safety and security of the United States and they must be enforced. Violations of those laws put our country at risk.
“Adherence to the rule of law is a bedrock principle of the Department of Justice,” Smith continued. “We have one set of laws in this country and they apply to everyone.”
Smith’s statement came roughly an hour after he federal indictment against former President Trump was unsealed, revealing that Trump is facing 37 counts altogether, including 31 counts for willfull retention of national defense secrets in violation of the Espionage Act, as well as counts of one count of making false statements and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, one count of withholding a document or record, one count of corruptly concealing a document or record, one count of concealing a document in a federal investigation, one count of a scheme to conceal.
Trump aide Walt Nauta has also been charged with one criminal count in the classified documents investigation.
Trump’s indictment reaches back to the end of his Presidential term in January 2021 when the documents, many from the White House residence, were packed into boxes along with clothes, gifts, photographs and other material, and shipped by the General Services Administration to Trump’s country club residence in Florida, Mar-a-Lago.
The criminal charges stem from Smith’s months-long investigation into whether Trump broke the law in his mishandling of classified documents after an FBI raid had discovered hundreds of federal documents—many of them classified—at Mar-a-Lago. A veteran career prosecutor, Smith had received his appointment as special counsel from Attorney General Merrick Garland in November.
On Friday, Smith stated, “It’s very important for me to note that the defendants in this case must be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.”
To that end, Smith said his office will seek a speedy trial in this matter.
Trump is already facing 34 felony counts of falsifying business records and conspiracy related to his role in hush money payments during the 2016 campaign season—a first in U.S. history. That indictment came down in New York State court.
This week’s indictment is another historic first—the charging of a former U.S. President with federal crimes.