Federal prosecutors notified the former commander-in-chief he is a target of a criminal probe
The US Department of Justice has informed ex-President Donald Trump that he is under criminal investigation linked to alleged mishandling of classified material, multiple news outlets reported on Wednesday.
Trump's legal team received a letter from prosecutors this week stating that the former leader is the target of a grand jury probe into whether he illegally retained secret files at his private residence after leaving office in 2021, unnamed sources told CNN, Fox News, Politico and other outlets.
The move could indicate that special counsel Jack Smith is preparing to make a charging decision on the case. He was tapped for the role not long after federal agents raided Trump's Florida estate in August 2022, ultimately turning up thousands of pages of government records, including over 100 classified documents. Around 200 other files were voluntarily handed over by Trump's attorneys prior to the raid.
Smith has reportedly called in several Trump associates in recent weeks to testify before the grand jury, including one of his lawyers, Evan Corcoran, as well as Taylor Budowich, a former spokesperson, and ex-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
In an interview with the New York Times on Wednesday, Trump declined to confirm whether he had been notified of the investigation, but said he had not been told that he would be charged. The ex-president has denied all wrongdoing in his handling of documents, and even filed a lawsuit in Florida to contest the materials seized from his Mar-a-Lago residence last year. While the DOJ's access to the documents was briefly suspended, the government was later authorized to use the files for its investigation following an appeal.
DOJ procedures state that "target letters" can be sent to those for whom there is "substantial evidence linking him or her to the commission of a crime," allowing them to testify in their own defense ahead of an indictment. They are often sent not long before charges are handed down.