Attorneys for Former President Donald Trump Notified That He is Target of Criminal Investigation

Federal prosecutors have reportedly notified former Republican President Donald Trump’s attorneys that he is a target of a criminal investigation regarding his handling of classified materials after years of serving as commander in chief, according to two sources familiar with the ongoing jury probe. 

The former president’s handling of classified materials after he left office in 2021 has been the focus of an investigation led by Special Counsel Jack Smith, who was appointed special counsel to the matter in November 2022. 

Smith’s appointment came only months after the FBI searched for classified documents in a raid at the former president’s Florida, Mar-a-Lago estate on August 8, 2022.

The notification by the Justice Department came days ago, according to sources, and indicates the Special Prosecutor might be close to deciding whether to bring charges following the investigation, which has stretched on for months. 

Prosecutors privately informed Trump’s attorneys that he is a target and that his actions with the handing of the classified documents remain the primary focus of the investigation. 

Notifying individuals that they are the target of an investigation is routinely part of criminal investigations done at the discretion of prosecutors, despite whether charges are ultimately filed. 

The legal team for Donald Trump met privately at the Justice Department with Special Counsel Smith and some of his team to discuss the investigation by the grand jury. 

Trump has not yet, nor does the notification suggest, that he will be charged. The notification was meant to notify the former president that he had become the target to allow him time to gather and present evidence in front of a grand jury.

Justice Department filings suggested prosecutors are reviewing if Trump violated three federal statutes

Justice Department court filings have suggested that prosecutors are reviewing if the former president violated three federal statutes, including the Federal Espionage Act. The act states it is a crime to “willfully retain” documents concerning national defense.

According to federal prosecutors, Trump spent months dodging a subpoena that required him to turn over the records. Additionally, prosecutors are reviewing surveillance footage from Mar-a-Lago to determine if anyone at Mar-a-Lago knowingly mishandled the documents. 

Department of Justice guidelines state that “the prosecutor, in appropriate cases, is encouraged to notify such person a reasonable time before seeking an indictment to allow him or her to testify before the grand jury.”

According to sources, the Monday meeting between Smith and Trump’s legal team also included a career justice official but neither Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco nor Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Last month, Trump’s attorneys requested a meeting with Garland amid fears that in the coming weeks might bring a possible indictment regarding the president’s alleged efforts to retain materials after leaving office and block the government’s attempts to retrieve them. 

The lawyers said they had questions surrounding the integrity of the grand juries conducting investigations of former President Trump.

Trump is charged separately in New York City with 34 counts of falsifying business records in a case related to hush money paid to former stripper and porn actress Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential race. He pleads not guilty in the case.