Chris Lange, FISM News
Former President Donald Trump said Thursday that he was indicted on federal criminal charges stemming from the special counsel probe into his handling of classified documents. The stunning news makes Trump the first former president to be indicted on federal charges.
The seven-count indictment carries a combined maximum prison sentence of up to 75 years.
Trump excoriated the Justice Department for “election interference” and vowed to fight the charges.
“The corrupt Biden Administration has informed my attorneys that I have been Indicted, seemingly over the Boxes Hoax,” Trump posted on his Truth Social account Thursday evening, declaring his innocence.
Trump lawyer Jim Trusty confirmed to CNN later that Trump had received a summons. He said that he wasn’t certain what the exact charges were, since a summons differs from a charging document, but said, “They basically break out from an Espionage Act charge — which is ludicrous under the facts of this case.”
They also included “several obstruction-based type charges, and then false statement charges, which again are kind of a crazy stretch just from the facts as we know it,” he added.
Trusty said that one charge related to “willful retention of national defense information” – language in the FBI’s search warrant used in the August raid of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. He said that there were also “several” obstruction charges and a “conspiracy count.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland’s hand-picked special counsel in the probe, Jack Smith, convened a grand jury in Washington, D.C., months ago. Earlier this week, news broke that a second grand jury in Florida heard testimony from witnesses in the investigation. It was that jury that voted to indict the former president.
LAWMAKERS WEIGH IN ON INDICTMENT
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said the indictment represented a “brazen weaponization of power” and “grave injustice” and vowed that House Republicans would hold the Biden administration accountable.
“Today is indeed a dark day for the United States of America,” McCarthy wrote in a Twitter post. “It is unconscionable for a President to indict the leading candidate opposing him. Joe Biden kept classified documents for decades.”
Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley accused the Biden administration of trying to imprison political opponents.
“If the President in power can just jail his political opponents, which is what Joe Biden is trying to do tonight, we don’t have a Republic anymore…nobody should be in doubt of what’s happening tonight,” Hawley said Thursday during an appearance on Fox News. “Joe Biden and his cronies are trying to take out their chief political opponent. This has never happened before in American history—we are in dangerous, dangerous waters, and it is because of Joe Biden.”
Democratic lawmakers reacted to the news with predictable assertions that “no one is above the law.”
“Trump’s apparent indictment on multiple charges arising from his retention of classified materials is another affirmation of the rule of law,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) wrote on Twitter. “For four years, he acted like he was above the law. But he should be treated like any other lawbreaker. And today, he has been,” he added.
“The chaos of Trump continues,” Rep. Greg Landsman (D-Ohio) said. “What he’s doing to this country, the extremism and danger he and his allies present, has to end. Only when those who support and enable him decide to be done with this toxic behavior, will this all be behind us.”
The former president is due in federal court in Miami on Tuesday.
TRUMP’S PRIMARY RIVALS (MOSTLY) SPEAK OUT AGAINST DOJ ‘WEAPONIZATION’
By and large, Trump’s GOP primary rivals – the bulk of whom have argued that it is time for the party to move on from the former president – condemned the DOJ’s actions.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, widely viewed as Trump’s top rival in the 2024 race, said that the indictment is yet another example of a two-tier justice system under the Biden administration.
“The weaponization of federal law enforcement represents a mortal threat to a free society. We have for years witnessed an uneven application of the law depending upon political affiliation,” DeSantis tweeted.
“Why so zealous in pursuing Trump yet so passive about Hillary or Hunter?” he continued, adding, “The DeSantis administration will bring accountability to the DOJ, excise political bias, and end weaponization once and for all.”
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) said that the indictment should anger every American, regardless of their political affiliations.
“What we’ve seen over the last several years is the weaponization of the Department [of] Justice against a former president,” Scott said during an appearance on Fox News Thursday. “You don’t have to be a Republican to see injustice and want to fix it. You don’t have to be a Democrat to see injustice and want to fix it. You just have to be an American and stand up for the right thing.”
Scott added, “Today, what we see is a justice system where the scales are weighted. That seems to be the outcome of where we are today.” Like DeSantis, Scott pledged to “purge all of the injustices and impurities” in the judicial system if elected.
Vivek Ramaswamy went a step further, declaring that he would pardon Trump.
“It would be much easier for me to win this election if Trump weren’t in the race, but I stand for principles over politics,” the 37-year-old entrepreneur wrote in a lengthy Twitter post. “I commit to pardon Trump promptly on January 20, 2025 and to restore the rule of law in our country.”
Ramaswamy said the Trump indictment is “an affront to every citizen,” adding that the nation cannot allow itself to “devolve into a banana republic where the party in power uses police force to arrest its political opponent.” He also echoed the words of other Republicans who slammed the Justice Department’s double standard, given that classified documents were also found in President Biden’s private office and at his residence in Delaware.
“It’s hypocritical for the DOJ to selectively prosecute Trump but not Biden,” Ramaswamy said.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, an ex-member of Trump’s inner circle, offered a more diplomatic response laced with subtle digs at the former president.
“We don’t get our news from Trump’s Truth Social account. Let’s see what the facts are when any possible indictment is released,” Christie said in a Twitter post. “As I have said before, no one is above the law, no matter how much they wish they were. We will have more to say when the facts are revealed.”