Trump informed he is target of special counsel criminal probe

Former President Donald Trump’s lawyers have been informed that he is a target of the federal criminal investigation into possible mishandling of classified information after he left office, according to three sources knowledgeable about the communication between the two sides.

Justice Department regulations allow prosecutors to inform individuals that they are targets of a grand jury investigation before prosecutors seek an indictment. According to the department’s manual, such a notification is sent to afford individuals the opportunity to testify before the grand jury before any prosecution is brought. The practice also gives defense attorneys an opportunity to present their case against an indictment.

On Wednesday, special counsel Jack Smith presented evidence to a grand jury in Miami, Fla., and heard testimony from Taylor Budowich, a former Trump aide and spokesperson. Previous grand jury testimony was heard in Washington, D.C. 

This development, two sources said, indicates that if criminal charges are brought, some could be filed in Florida for jurisdictional reasons. The records marked classified were recovered at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Palm Beach home, where at least some of the alleged misconduct occurred.

Witnesses who appeared before the Washington grand jury have included Mar-a-Lago employees, as well as close Trump aides and attorneys. 

The investigation stems from efforts by the National Archives to recover White House records missing from the federal government’s possession. An FBI search of Mar-a-Lago in August 2022 led to the discovery of more than 100 documents with classified markings.

Smith was appointed special counsel in November by Attorney General Merrick Garland. He is also leading a separate investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, as well as the documents probe. 

Trump’s attorneys met Monday with Justice Department officials, including Smith himself, to discuss their concerns about conduct during the investigation. 

Trump has consistently denied wrongdoing in the case and has characterized the investigation as politically motivated.

He posted Tuesday afternoon on Truth Social, his social media platform, that “no one has told me I’m being indicted.”

“And I shouldn’t be because I’ve done NOTHING wrong,” Trump wrote.

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