Where Trump's legal issues stand as he sees more charges in classified documents case
JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:
In Florida, federal prosecutors have added new felony charges against former President Donald Trump and his employees. In Washington, a federal grand jury is looking into his attempts to overturn the 2020 election. And in Georgia, the Fulton County district attorney is investigating Trump's campaign to pressure election officials. It's all making it quite hard to keep track of the legal developments involving the former president. But luckily, we've got NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson on the line, and she is tracking all of these cases. Hi, Carrie.
CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Hi, Juana.
SUMMERS: Carrie, you are keeping busy - a lot to cover, but let's start in the state of Florida. Donald Trump now faces a total of 40 criminal charges there. What's the latest?
JOHNSON: Last night, federal prosecutors unveiled a superseding indictment in South Florida. They added three new charges against Donald Trump related to his hoarding of classified documents. One charge is for his alleged refusal to return a military plan about Iran that Trump showed to aides at his New Jersey golf club even though he said it was a secret. And there are two new charges of obstruction for allegedly cooking up a plan to destroy surveillance footage of boxes being moved at his Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago.
Trump's campaign says this is part of a, quote, "desperate" attempt by the Justice Department to harass him and the people around him. And there's another employee in Florida at Mar-a-Lago, Carlos de Oliveira, who was added to the indictment. He's due for a court appearance in Miami on Monday.
SUMMERS: And Carrie, former President Trump had already been charged with federal crimes related to the classified documents about a month ago. Why are we seeing even more charges right now?
JOHNSON: Not unusual, really, in a big criminal case. It could be an effort to fortify or strengthen the case that already existed. It could be a result of some trouble the FBI had getting into the phone of Trump's valet, Walt Nauta, another co-defendant in this case. But whatever the reason, this is pretty tough news for Donald Trump. DOJ has a lot of communications about the alleged obstruction, which came after a subpoena for the video footage, and that's going to be hard evidence for Trump's lawyers to try to explain to a jury next year.
SUMMERS: Mmm. And separately, there is a grand jury here in Washington, D.C., that's exploring the January 6 riot. That grand jury met this week. Those proceedings are secret, of course, but what have you been able to tease out about what's going on there?
JOHNSON: Yeah, there's no sign of that Washington grand jury at the courthouse today. I was at the courthouse most of the day. They typically meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays. They did seem to put in a full day of work yesterday, though. And at the same time, across town yesterday, Trump's lawyers were meeting with the special counsel, Jack Smith. Trump called it a productive meeting, said he did nothing wrong, and he also said he relied on his attorneys, signaling a possible defense in any January 6 charges that are eventually filed against him. Remember, Trump got a target letter nearly two weeks ago, so those charges could come at almost any time now.
SUMMERS: Former President Trump is, of course, running for reelection to the White House again in 2024. How might these legal troubles factor into his campaign?
JOHNSON: Yeah, Donald Trump made a bit of news on that today in an interview with the radio host John Fredericks. Here's what they had to say.
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JOHN FREDERICKS: If, going forward - right? - you get these indictments, there ends up - you go to jury in D.C., you get convicted and sentenced - does that stop your campaign for president if you're sentenced?
DONALD TRUMP: Not at all.
JOHNSON: You know, Trump went on to say there's nothing in the Constitution that - to say that it could stop his campaign. And to be clear, he has not yet faced any charges in D.C., let alone a trial date or a sentencing. But Trump is facing trial in New York in March 2024 on alleged hush-money payments and in Florida in May 2024. So it's not clear there's room for another trial later that year.
SUMMERS: Right. So Trump is facing legal trouble in New York, in Florida, possibly soon in Washington, D.C., but that is still not the end of the list. Carrie, tell us what's happening in Georgia.
JOHNSON: Yeah, in Fulton County, barricades went up around the courthouse this week. The district attorney signaled she expects a grand jury there to take action sometime in August. They've been investigating efforts by Trump and others to overturn the results of the last election, including a pressure campaign on the Georgia secretary of state. Just one more thing to watch in this long, hot summer of legal trouble for the former president and current Republican front-runner for the 2024 nomination for the White House.
SUMMERS: NPR's Carrie Johnson. Thank you.
JOHNSON: My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.