Donald Trump asked a staffer to delete camera footage at his Florida estate in an effort to obstruct the federal investigation into his possession of classified documents, according to an updated indictment unsealed Thursday that adds new charges against the former president and names an additional defendant.
The indictment includes new counts of obstruction and willful retention of national defense information, compounding Trump’s legal jeopardy even as he braces for a possible additional indictment in Washington over his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. The additional counts underscore the extent of the yearlong investigation into Trump that first produced charges last month in the form of a 38-count indictment against Trump and his valet, Walt Nauta.
A Trump spokesperson dismissed the new charges as “nothing more than a continued desperate and flailing attempt” by the Biden administration “to harass President Trump and those around him” and to influence the 2024 presidential race.
The classified records were taken by Trump to Mar-a-Lago after he left the White House in January 2021.
The superseding indictment charges Trump with an additional count of willfully retaining national defense information relating to the former president discussing U.S. military plans to attack another country during an interview in July 2021 at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club. The interview was for a memoir being written by his onetime chief of staff, Mark Meadows, who in his subsequent book named the country as Iran.
According to the indictment, Trump returned that document, which was marked as top secret and not approved to show to foreign nationals, to the federal government on Jan. 17. 2022.
It marks a notable shift in the prosecution’s approach to Trump’s case, charging him for retaining a document it alleges the former president knew was highly sensitive after he left office — and not just for failing to return it to the government when asked.
Both Trump and Nauta have pleaded not guilty.