Donald Trump took the lead in announcing himself Thursday evening that he had been charged by federal justice, a historic first for a former president.
The Republican, who dreams of winning back the White House in 2024, is being prosecuted for having kept presidential archives in violation of American laws.
"The corrupt Biden administration has notified my attorneys that I have been charged, presumably in the bogus case of the boxes," he wrote on his Truth Social network in reference to the boxes of documents taken with him as he left Washington. .
The Justice Department declined to comment and the court filing remains under seal.
The billionaire, whose Florida home was raided last summer by FBI agents looking for the records, said he was due in federal court in Miami on Tuesday -- on the eve of his 77th birthday. anniversary.
His lawyer Jim Trusty clarified on CNN that Donald Trump was the subject of seven charges, including under an espionage law which prohibits the keeping of classified documents in unauthorized and unsecured places.
His client, suspected of having sought to surreptitiously keep the documents requested of him, is also being prosecuted for obstruction of justice and perjury, added Me Trusty.
In March, he had already been charged with several accounting frauds by the justice of the State of New York in connection with a payment made before the 2016 presidential election to silence an actress of porn movies who says he was his mistress.
The ex-real estate magnate, who for the moment is well ahead of the other candidates for the Republican nomination, has always defended himself from any embezzlement and presents himself as the victim of "political persecution".
"I am innocent, I have done nothing wrong", he assured Thursday evening in a video posted on Twitter, denouncing "electoral interference at the highest level".
The elected Republicans immediately closed ranks around him.
"I stand, like all Americans who believe in the rule of law, with President Trump," said House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. His Judiciary Committee's Twitter account displayed a familiar slogan: "WITCH HUNT".
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a rival for the Republican nomination, promised him to "eliminate political bias" if elected.
Billionaire Elon Musk, increasingly present in the political arena, felt that there "seemed to be more interest in prosecuting Trump than other politicians".
Democrats welcomed the news while warning against Donald Trump's speech. "He's going to try to instrumentalize this indictment for political gain, because winning the presidency may be his only way to avoid jail time," said lawmaker Adam Schiff.
In the United States, being charged and even sentenced for an offense or a crime does not prohibit being a candidate, elected or holding an official position.
Donald Trump's campaign team was quick to send out an appeal for donations to his supporters, asking them in an email to help fight the "vicious" attacks on the ex-president.
In January 2021, when he left the White House to settle in his luxurious residence in Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump took entire boxes of files.
A 1978 law, however, obliges the president to transmit all his emails, letters and other working documents to the national archives.
A year later, after several reminders, he had agreed to return 15 boxes with more than 200 classified documents. In a letter, his lawyers then assured that there were no others.
The federal police, however, estimated that he had not returned everything and still kept a lot in his club in Palm Beach.
FBI agents went there on August 8 and seized around 30 other boxes, containing 11,000 documents, some of which were very sensitive on Iran or China.
To depoliticize the case, Justice Minister Merrick Garland in November appointed a special prosecutor, Jack Smith, to oversee the investigation, as well as another on Donald Trump's role in the Capitol assault.
Another special prosecutor is investigating in parallel classified documents found earlier this year in a former office and at the home of Democratic President Joe Biden by his lawyers.
These embarrassing finds, along with others from ex-Vice President Mike Pence, allowed Donald Trump to downplay the seriousness of his conduct, even though Joe Biden has always cooperated with justice, voluntarily returning the documents, in much smaller numbers.
This file is more serious, on the merits, than that of New York. And Donald Trump's setbacks will probably not stop there.
A Georgia prosecutor must announce by September the result of her months-long investigation into the pressure he exerted to try to change the result of the 2020 presidential election.
09/06/2023 20:29:16 - Washington (AFP) - © 2023 AFP