What does being indicted mean? Term definition as Donald Trump charged over handling of classified documents
The charges include conspiracy, false statements and illegally retaining classified documents, says Trump's attorney
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Donald Trump has been charged over his handling of classified documents after he left the White House, according to US media. The 76-year-old former US President reportedly faces seven charges including unauthorised retention of classified files, however, the charges have not been made public as of yet.
It is his second indictment and the first ever federal indictment of a former president. He is currently campaigning in the 2024 presidential campaign. In a post on Truth Social on Thursday, Trump said he was innocent and had been summoned to appear at a federal court in Miami, Florida, on Tuesday afternoon, where he will be arrested and hear the charges against him. He wrote on his social media platform: "I never thought it possible that such a thing could happen to a former president of the United States."
Earlier this year, the former president faced more than “30 counts” related to “business fraud”. Manhattan prosecutors investigated the alleged payment of hush money to adult film star Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 election. So, what does indictment mean, what has Trump been charged with and can he still run for President? Here’s everything you need to know.
What does indictment mean?
According to the US Department of Justice, an indictment is when a person is given formal notice that they are believed to have committed a crime, including all of the basic information to inform them what charges they are facing.
Trump's attorney Jim Trusty told CNN the former president had received details of the charges in a summons document. He said they include conspiracy, false statements, obstruction of justice, and illegally retaining classified documents under the Espionage Act. However, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has yet to comment and the indictment has not been publicly released.
What has he been charged with?
The exact charges against Trump have not yet been disclosed, however, it is believed to be related to a search last year at Trump's Florida resort Mar-a-Lago, where 11,000 documents were seized, including around 100 marked as classified. Some of these were labelled top secret.
There were reports last week that prosecutors had obtained an audio recording of Mr Trump in which he acknowledged keeping a classified document after leaving the White House in January 2021. It is against US law for federal officials - including a president - to remove or keep classified documents at an unauthorised location.
What has Donald Trump said?
Following the news, he took to his social media platform Truth Social telling his followers: “I never thought it possible that such a thing could happen to a former president of the United States."
"This is indeed a dark day for the United States of America. We are a country in serious and rapid decline, but together we will Make America Great Again!"
Can he still run for President?
Despite making history as the first US President to be indicted, Trump can still continue on with his Presidential campaign for 2024 and even govern from jail if he wins. According to Fortune, the rules surrounding who can run for president are very clear. The President must be: “35 years of age, a US resident for 14 years and a natural-born citizen,” meaning there is no law preventing him from running.
There have been previous incidents of inmates running for president. In 1920, Eugene Debs ran as a presidential candidate whilst in prison, impressively collecting nearly a million votes out of the 26.2 million cast that election.