Donald Trump said on Thursday that he has been charged with mishandling secret materials at his Florida home. This is a significant step that makes him the first former US president ever to be charged with a crime by the federal agency he formerly presided over.
The charge has unquestionably serious legal repercussions, including the potential for incarceration if he is found guilty.
However, it also has significant political ramifications. It may upset a Republican primary that Trump had been leading and put GOP supporters and party leaders to the test once more by asking them to support a man who has already been indicted twice and may be hit with further accusations. And it prepares the ground for a spectacular trial that will revolve on allegations that a man who was previously tasked with protecting the country’s most carefully guarded secrets knowingly and unlawfully hoarded critical national security material.
The indictment was not immediately made public by the Justice Department. However, according to two persons who were acquainted with the situation but were not permitted to speak publicly about it, there were seven criminal counts in the indictment. One of them said that just before Trump revealed on his Truth TV show, prosecutors contacted his attorneys.
Trump is now in even more legal danger as a result of the case. He has already been charged in New York and is already the subject of other investigations in Atlanta and Washington, D.C. But of the several investigations he is facing, legal professionals and Trump’s own advisers have long seen the Mar-a-Lago investigation as the one that poses the greatest risk and is most likely to result in criminal charges. Since Trump’s attorneys were informed that he was the subject of the investigation, campaign staffers had been preparing for the consequences, anticipating that it was only a matter of time until charges were filed.