Trump’s Lawyers Told He Is Target in Mar-a-Lago Documents Investigation
Story Code : 1062645
The move – the clearest sign yet that Trump is on course to be indicted – dramatically raises the stakes for Trump, as the investigation nears its conclusion after taking evidence before a grand jury in Washington and a previously unknown grand jury in Florida.
Trump’s lawyers were sent a “target letter” days before they met on Monday with the special counsel Jack Smith, who is leading the Mar-a-Lago documents case, and the senior career official in the deputy attorney general’s office, where they asked prosecutors not to charge the former president.
Trump has reportedly said he had not been personally informed by the justice department that he was a target when asked directly by a New York Times reporter, but demurred when asked whether his legal team had been told about the designation.
The development comes as prosecutors have obtained evidence of criminal conduct occurring at Mar-a-Lago and decided that any indictments should be charged in the southern district of Florida, where the resort is located, rather than in Washington, according to people familiar with the matter.
To that end, prosecutors last month started issuing subpoenas to multiple Trump aides that compelled them to testify before a new grand jury in Florida, impaneled around the time that the grand jury in Washington stopped taking new evidence, the Guardian previously reported.
On Wednesday, former Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich testified before the Florida grand jury and was asked in part about a statement that Trump drafted in early 2022 that said he had given “everything” back after he returned 15 boxes of materials to the National Archives.
The statement was never issued, Budowich is understood to have confirmed. Several aides to Trump were against releasing the statement because they were not confident that the assertion was accurate, a person close to the former president said.
What charges might emanate from the Florida grand jury remains unclear.
But prosecutors would most probably prefer to bring charges in Washington, where the judges at the US district court are more familiar with handling national security cases – though Florida also has a robust national security section – and the jury pool skews more Democratic.