Trump lashes out at ‘crooked Joe Biden’ in Truth Social rant over new classified documents charges

Donald Trump has lashed out at “crooked Joe Biden” in his latest Truth Social rant after he was hit with new charges over his handling of classified documents since leaving the White House.

Justice Department Special Counsel Jack Smith issued a superseding indictment on Thursday, bringing another three charges against the former president and adding a third defendant – Mar-a-Lago property manager Carlos De Oliveira – to the federal criminal case.

Following the indictment, Mr Trump went on a characteristic irate rant online where he compared his handling of classified documents to that of President Joe Biden’s – and launched into false claims that the president was storing papers “in Chinatown”.

“Whatever happened to the Crooked Joe Biden Document’s case? He had 20 times more Boxes than I did, and he wasn’t covered by the Presidential Records Act. I was!” he fumed.

“ When it first came out that Biden had all of these Docs, many Classified, almost everyone, including those on the Left, said, “there goes the case against Trump.”

“But they waited and waited, got failed prosecutor Deranged Jack Smith, and STRUCK – but did almost nothing on the REALLY BAD Biden Documents case, many stored in Chinatown!”

Mr Trump has repeatedly sought to compare his handling of classified documents with Mr Biden’s – as he has sought to claim he is being treated unfairly in his criminal prosecution.

Classified documents have been found in the possession of Mr Trump, Mr Biden and Mr Trump’s vice president Mike Pence.

But, where Mr Trump’s case differs is that he allegedly refused to return the classified documents when asked and tried to prevent investigators from finding more secret documents he knew he had in his possession.

By contrast, Mr Biden’s lawyers contacted the National Archives to hand over the documents as soon as they were discovered.

Mr Trump was initially indicted on 37 federal charges in early June over his alleged mishandling of classified documents, becoming the first current or former US president ever charged with a federal crime. He pleaded not guilty to the charges at his arraignment in a Miami federal courthouse. His longtime aide Walt Nauta was also charged in the case as his co-defendant.

In the latest charging document, prosecutors now allege that Mr Trump even went as far as to plot with two employees to delete security footage from Mar-a-Lago in his quest to hide the classified documents – and what exactly he was doing with them.

Prosecutors had issued subpoenas to obtain Mar-a-Lago security footage back in June 2022.

In this handout photo provided by the US Department of Justice, stacks of boxes can be observed in a bathroom and shower in The Mar-a-Lago Club’s Lake Room at former US President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida

(US Justice Department/AFP via Ge)

On receiving the subpoena, Mr Trump allegedly “requested” that a Mar-a-Lago employee delete the security footage before it could be handed over to the grand jury, according to the superseding indictment.

Mr De Oliveira – a longtime Mar-a-Lago worker – allegedly told another the club’s director of IT that “the boss” wanted the server deleted.

When the IT director, named as Employee 4 in the documents, said he didn’t know if he could or had the right to do that, Mr De Oliveira allegedly pressed him that it was what “the boss” wanted. He also urged Employee 4 to keep their conversations under wraps.

Prosecutors also allege that Mr De Oliveira and Mr Nauta met and schemed to conceal the footage.

Mr De Oliveira was hit with charges for the first time in the case.

Mr Trump meanwhile was hit with three new charges – two of obstruction and one of wilful retention of defence information.

The latter charge relates to a classified document he allegedly held onto which he was not previously charged with.

The document was described as a top secret “presentation concerning military activity in a foreign country” and is believed to be papers about a possible plan of attack on Iran.

The existence of the document – and Mr Trump’s handling of it – came to light in a leaked audio of a meeting between Mr Trump, biographers and staffers at his Bedminster golf club.

In the recording, captured during a July 2021 meeting and released by CNN last month, the former president is heard boasting and laughing with associates about possessing “highly confidential” military documents about Iran.

“These are the papers,” he says. “This was done by the military and given to me.”

The updated indictment against former President Donald Trump, Walt Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira is photographed Thursday

(Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

As the sound of what appears to be papers rustling is heard, Mr Trump references a “big pile of papers” and makes the startling confession that he knows he can no longer declassify the documents because he is no longer president.

The audio was previously mentioned in the DOJ’s initial indictment charging Mr Trump in early June but he did not face charges over it at the time.

Mr Trump has previously denied that the papers referred to in the audio were government documents, instead claiming to Fox News that they were merely “newspaper stories, magazine stories and articles”.

Now, with the additional charges, Mr Trump has a total of 40 federal counts over his handling of classified documents.

The new charges on Thursday came at a time when Mr Trump’s team had been gearing up for charges in a separate federal case over his role in the January 6 Capitol riot and his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Last week, Mr Trump said he had received a letter from special counsel Jack Smith’s office saying he was the target of a grand jury investigation – indicating that a criminal indictment was looming.

On Thursday morning, the grand jury arrived at the courthouse in Washington DC and Mr Trump’s attorneys met with Mr Smith where they were warned to expect a criminal indictment against their client.

But, no indictment came and the grand jury is now not expected to meet again until next week.

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