Prosecutors alert Trump of classified documents probe

Thursday, 8 June 2023 (11:53 IST)
US prosecutors have notified Donald Trump's lawyer that the former US president is the target of an investigation into the mishandling of classified documents after his time in office, US media reported, adding to Trump's legal woes in the run-up to presidential elections in 2024.
The notice came from the Office of Special Counsel Jack Smith, according to The New York Times, CNN, ABC and other news outlets. Smith is also leading the investigation into Trump's role in the January 6 Capitol riots.
News website Politico reported separately that prosecutors have sent Trump a letter informing him that he is under investigation, but the subject of that inquiry was unclear.
A notification of investigation does not necessarily mean that the prosecution will press charges. It is typically done to allow a person to come forward and defend his case to prosecutors. The Times, citing two people close to the matter, said that it was not clear when Trump's legal team was notified of the investigation.
A spokesperson for Smith's office declined to comment.
What is the investigation about?
Trump returned 15 boxes of records in January 2022, a year after leaving office. But federal officials came to believe he had not returned all the documents. In May 2022, the Justice Department issued a grand jury subpoena, asking him to return all records bearing classified markings.
In August 2022, investigators seized thousands of documents from Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, of which 100 were marked as classified. That's after one of Trump's lawyers had previously stated that all classified documents had been returned.
Trump defended possession of the documents, suggesting he had declassified them during his presidency. However, this defense has not been used by his lawyers in court filings. Moreover, the former president has not been able to provide evidence of the declassification he said he made.
Trump has previously said that all the investigations against him are politically motivated.
"No one has told me I'm being indicted, and I shouldn't be because I've done NOTHING wrong," Trump posted on his Truth Social network Wednesday, responding to media reports. His campaign has not issued a statement regarding the investigation, so far.
Piling legal issues
Trump is currently campaigning for the Republican Party nomination to run for president in 2024.
However, legal troubles for the controversial politician are only rising.
He is the only former president to face criminal charges. Apart from the investigation into the handling of classified documents and the January 6 Capitol riots, he is also facing an inquiry into his finances.
Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts, including falsifying business records. 
A state prosecutor in Georgia is also weighing whether Trump tried to overturn the result of the 2020 election in that state.
He has moreover been found liable for sexual abuse and defamation against advice columnist E. Jean Carroll. 

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