Former President Donald Trump greets supporters at a Team Trump volunteer leadership training event held at the Grimes Community Complex on June 01, 2023 in Grimes, Iowa.
Scott Olson | Getty Images
Former President Donald Trump has been informed that he is the subject of a federal criminal investigation into the withholding of hundreds of classified government documents after he left the White House, NBC News reported Wednesday night.
Such notification usually occurs before prosecutors decide whether to file criminal charges against a target.
Trump’s lawyers were told in a meeting Monday at the Justice Department with special counsel Jack Smith and other Justice Department officials that he was the subject of a classified documents investigation, according to two sources briefed on the meeting, NBC reported. It is unclear whether they were previously notified of this status for him.
Targets are people who prosecutors believe have committed a crime. Targets often end up being blamed.
Justice Department regulations say the prosecutor, “in appropriate cases, is encouraged to give such person reasonable notice before seeking an indictment to enable him to testify before a grand jury.”
A DOJ spokesman declined to comment.
The revelation of Trump’s status in the investigation came when Taylor Budovitch, his top aide, testified before a grand jury in U.S. District Court in Miami that is gathering evidence in the case.
Smith is probing Trump both for storing classified records at his residence at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, and for his alleged efforts to hide those documents and keep them from government officials seeking their return. By law, presidents must surrender government documents when they leave office.
An FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago last August uncovered hundreds of classified documents and other government records.
Trump said in a social media post on Wednesday that “nobody told me I was indicted.”
He added that he should not be criminally charged in the case “because I did nothing wrong”.
Trump did not directly answer New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman when she asked him if he had been told he was a target, she reported.
Trump, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, was indicted by a New York state grand jury in March on charges of falsifying business records in connection with a 2016 hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels from his then- personal attorney.
He has pleaded not guilty in that case, which is due to go to trial next year in Manhattan Supreme Court.
Separately, Smith is overseeing a criminal investigation into Trump’s efforts to reverse his 2020 national presidential election loss. A state attorney in Georgia is also investigating him and his allies for similar efforts in that state’s presidential election that year.
On Wednesday, Trump called the prosecutors in all those cases “fascists” who are trying to harm him politically.