On Wednesday, insiders told ABC News that former President Donald Trump had received a Justice Department letter informing him of an ongoing investigation into the classified documents stored at his home in Florida, the next step in an expected indictment.
In the last week, his lawyers have met with Justice Department officials to argue against an indictment; Trump has apparently been workshopping a defense on social media; and a former top aide appeared before a grand jury in Miami.
A “target letter” is very often the precursor to criminal charges, which means Trump may soon face a federal indictment — unrelated to his indictment in New York.
Legal experts have interpreted the aide’s Miami appearance as a suggestion that prosecutors are pursuing the potential charges in Florida, rather than Washington, D.C.
Brandon Van Grack, a former Justice Department prosecutor, told the Associated Press, “I think the signal is increasingly that the charges against the former president will be in Florida.” Van Grack worked as a key lawyer on an earlier special counsel team that investigated ties between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign.
A variety of witnesses, including lawyers for Trump, close aides to the former president, and officials with the Trump Organization have appeared over the past year before the grand jury in Washington as part of a Justice Department special counsel investigation into Trump over the retention of hundreds of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago and allegations of obstructing the government’s efforts to reclaim the records.
The existence of a separate grand jury in Florida adds a wrinkle to an investigation that has been largely shrouded in mystery and has been thought to be in its end stages. It suggests the prosecutors is moving toward bringing criminal charges in Florida instead of in Washington.
Though the bulk of the investigative work has been done in Washington, prosecutors could simply read key testimony to the Florida grand jury or have a summary witness summarize all the key evidence, Van Grack said.
Trump’s lawyers met at the Justice Department on Monday with officials including special counsel Jack Smith, part of an effort by the legal team to raise concerns about what they say is prosecutorial misconduct and to try to argue against a potential indictment. After that meeting, Trump posted on his Truth Social platform in capital letters: “How can DOJ possibly charge me, who did nothing wrong,” when no other presidents have been charged.
He also called into a radio show, where he confirmed the meeting with his lawyers and said: “Well, I can just say this: They did go in and they saw ’em and they said very unfair. No other president has ever been charged with anything like this.”
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Trump, a presidential candidate, has characterized the investigation as politically motivated. GOP lawmakers are expected to echo this defense of Trump. A former Trump spokesperson has already described the investigation as “a bogus and deeply troubling effort to use the power of government to ‘get’ Trump.”
On Wednesday, Trump issued a new social media post saying, “No one has told me I’m being indicted, and I shouldn’t be because I’ve done NOTHING wrong, but I have assumed for years that I am a Target of the WEAPONIZED DOJ & FBI.”
The Associated Press and the Horn editorial team contributed to this article.