Donald Trump could face 100 years behind bars if he is convicted of all seven charges related to mishandling of classified information, according to a report.
The 76-year-old on Thursday said he had been told he was being indicted in relation to espionage – the first time in U.S. history that a former president has faced federal charges.
ABC News reported that Trump faces four separate counts each carrying a potential prison time of 20 years: conspiracy to obstruct justice; withholding a document or record; corruptly concealing a document or record; and concealing a document in a federal investigation.
One count carries a 10 year sentence: willful retention of national defense information.
And the final two counts have a maximum of five years each: scheme to conceal, and false statements and representations. Trump’s indictment remains under seal, but his decision to publicize it means feds could unseal it as early as Friday, ahead of next Tuesday’s court appearance in Miami.
The news was met with outrage among the Republican party, with even his 2024 rival, Ron DeSantis, declaring that the ‘weaponization of federal law enforcement represents a mortal threat to a free society.’ DeSantis stopped short of saying whether he’d pardon his rival if Trump was convicted, despite calls for the Florida governor to commit to doing so.
Trump himself – who was in Bedminster, New Jersey when the charging news broke – condemned the indictment in a clip which The New York Times said was pre-recorded, saying it was political persecution, and said: ‘I am innocent.’
Trump raged at the ‘corrupt Biden Administration’ and accused them of election interference in a video posted just minutes after the announcement from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey
The 76-year-old was at his Bedminster golf club when the news of his indictment broke
He will appear in court in Miami on Tuesday at 3pm, where the charges will be put to him. Trump denies all allegations he faces.
His lawyer, Jim Trusty, told CNN that all seven charges ‘break out from an Espionage Act charge’.
Jack Smith, the special counsel who is overseeing the investigation, has not commented.
Despite the pre-recorded clip, CBS News claimed that Trump was not expecting to be indicted, and that he was upset with his inner circle for telling him there was only a low risk of charges over the classified documents incident.
The former president is said to have complained that there was ‘too much happy talk for too long’ from those closest to him over the prospect of criminal action.
Jack Smith was appointed in November as special counsel to investigate Trump’s handling of classified information
A FBI raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in August found a trove of classified documents (pictured)
He was indicted in Manhattan in April on state charges of making hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels – those state charges, too, were historic.
But the classified information charges are federal and significantly more serious, and carry hefty prison sentences.
Prosecutors have investigated the transfer of presidential files to his Mar-a-Lago Florida estate since last year.
THE CHARGES TRUMP FACES AND THE MAXIMUM PRISON SENTENCES
Trump lawyers have confirmed he is facing seven federal charges. They have not received the formal indictment, but have been sent summonses that suggest he will face the below counts and maximum sentences.
- Willful retention of national defense information in violation of The Espionage Act (maximum penalty of 20 years in prison if convicted)
- Conspiracy to obstruct justice (20 years)
- Withholding a document or record (20 years)
- Corruptly concealing a document or record (20 years)
- Concealing a document in a federal investigation (20 years)
- Scheme to conceal (five years)
- False statements and representations (five years)
The probe exploded into the headlines in August when the FBI searched Trump’s Florida home, recovering 11,000 documents, including about 100 that were marked as classified.
For his part, Trump has repeatedly insisted he did nothing wrong and that he is the victim of a federal witch hunt.
At times the controversy has even boosted his standing in the polls and allowed him to raise money from supporters who see a ‘deep state’ plot to take him out of the 2024 race.
‘The corrupt Biden Administration has informed my attorneys that I have been Indicted, seemingly over the Boxes Hoax, even though Joe Biden has 1850 Boxes at the University of Delaware, additional Boxes in Chinatown, D.C., with even more Boxes at the University of Pennsylvania, and documents strewn all over his garage floor where he parks his Corvette, and which is ‘secured’ by only a garage door that is paper thin, and open much of the time,’ Trump wrote on Truth Social Thursday night.
‘I have been summoned to appear at the Federal Courthouse in Miami on Tuesday, at 3 PM. I never thought it possible that such a thing could happen to a former President of the United States, who received far more votes than any sitting President in the History of our Country, and is currently leading, by far, all Candidates, both Democrat and Republican, in Polls of the 2024 Presidential Election. I AM AN INNOCENT MAN!’
Later Thursday night, he put out a video.
‘Very sadly we’re a nation in decline and yet they go after a very popular president,’ Trump said.
‘I’m an innocent man, I did nothing wrong,’ he continued, vowing to ‘fight this out.’
In an interview with Fox News Digital, Trump also said he would ‘of course’ plead not guilty.
Security is already being increased around the courthouse in Miami ahead of his appearance before a judge, scheduled for 3pm on Tuesday.
Trump on Tuesday will be arraigned at this federal courthouse in Miami. News crews are pictured on Thursday staking out their positions
The investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents is being overseen by a special counsel, Jack Smith, who was appointed by the Attorney General Merrick Garland in November.
DeSantis, who is second place in polls across the country, stopped short of saying he would pardon Trump if he won the 2024 race, and the former president was convicted.
But he condemned the decision to press charges.
‘We have for years witnessed an uneven application of the law depending upon political affiliation,’ he said.
‘Why so zealous in pursuing Trump yet so passive about Hillary or Hunter? The DeSantis administration will bring accountability to the DOJ, excise political bias and end weaponization once and for all.’
Ron DeSantis has run to the defense of his 2024 Republican rival Donald Trump to attack the Department of Justice and ask why it isn’t going after Hillary Clinton or Hunter Biden
DeSantis and Trump have been trading barbs as the 2024 Republican campaign for president heats up.
But DeSantis dropped his guard to criticize the move that makes Trump the first president to face federal charges.
He joined Republican members of Congress in ripping the double standards of justice and claimed the timing of the indictment was convenient given new allegations that President Biden received a $5 million bribe from a Burisma executive when he was Vice President.
DeSantis supporters have said that Trump should drop out of the White House race to the Florida governor can pardon him if he wins in 2024. Trump currently holds a considerable lead over DeSantis in the polls.
‘Today is indeed a dark day for the United States of America,’ said House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
‘It is unconscionable for a President to indict the leading candidate opposing him. Joe Biden kept classified documents for decades.
‘I, and every American who believes in the rule of law, stand with President Trump against this grave injustice. House Republicans will hold this brazen weaponization of power accountable.’
Josh Hawley, a senator for Missouri, tweeted: ‘If the people in power can jail their political opponents at will, we don’t have a republic.’
And Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, a senior Judiciary Committee member, wrote on Twitter: ‘DOJ indicts former President / candidate Trump SAME DAY DOJ/FBI restricts access to unnecessarily redacted Biden allegations.
‘And they wonder why ppl think there r two standards for justice.’