A federal grand jury investigating donald trump in Florida heard at least one additional witness Wednesday amid signs the Justice Department is moving toward a possible indictment over the former president's mishandling of classified documents.
In the past week, his lawyers have met with Justice Department officials to argue against an indictment; Trump has issued social media posts in which he suggested that he anticipated that he might be impeached; and a former top counsel appeared before a grand jury in Miami, an indication, legal experts said, that prosecutors had settled on Florida rather than Washington as the appropriate location for charges.
Additionally, multiple media reports Wednesday night said prosecutors had recently issued Trump's legal team a letter of objectives, which is often, but not always, a precursor to criminal charges. The Department of Justice defines a target as someone whom prosecutors have substantial evidence linking to a crime.
“I think the signal is growing that the charges against the former president will be in Florida,” said Brandon Van Grack, a former Justice Department prosecutor and key counsel on a previous team of special counsel that investigated links between Russia and the campaign. Trump of 2016. .
Trump's lawyers did not return calls seeking comment. The Associated Press has not independently confirmed the existence of an objective card. A Trump spokesperson would not confirm or deny receiving a letter, and a Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.
Earlier in the day, Taylor Budowich, who served as Trump's spokesperson after his presidency and now runs a pro-Trump super PAC, testified before the grand jury. He confirmed his appearance on Twitter, writing: “Today, in what can only be described as a deeply troubling and disingenuous effort to use the power of government to 'get' Trump, I complied with a legal obligation to testify before a large federal jury. and I answered all the questions honestly.”
A variety of witnesses, including Trump lawyers, close associates of the former president and Trump Organization officials, have appeared before a grand jury in Washington over the past year as part of a Justice Department special counsel investigation into Trump for the retention of hundreds of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago and possible obstruction of government efforts to recover the records.
But the existence of a separate grand jury in Florida adds a wrinkle to an investigation that has been largely shrouded in mystery and is believed to be in its final stages. It suggests that prosecutors may be moving toward filing criminal charges in Florida, where the documents were taken after Trump left the White House and where multiple acts of alleged obstruction occurred, rather than in Washington.
Although most 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, as part of an effort by the legal team to raise concerns about what they say is prosecutorial misconduct and try to argue against a potential prosecution. After that meeting, Trump posted on his Truth Social platform in capital letters: “How is it possible that the Department of Justice is indicting me, who did nothing wrong”, when no other president has been indicted.
He also called a radio show, where he confirmed the meeting with his lawyers, saying: “Well, I can only say this: they came in and saw them and said it was very unfair. No other president has been accused of something like this.'”
On Wednesday, he issued a new social media post that read: "No one has told me I'm being charged, and I shouldn't be because I did NOTHING wrong, but I have assumed for years that I am a target of the Department of Justice and the FBI WEAPONS”.
The investigation has focused not only on possession of classified documents, even at the top secret level, but also on Trump's refusal to return the records when asked, and on possible obstruction.
Last year, the FBI issued a subpoena for classified searches at the property, and after suspecting that Trump and his representatives had not returned all the documents, they returned with a search warrant. and they recovered an additional 100 with classification marks.
Beyond the Mar-a-Lago investigation, another Washington investigation also conducted by Smith focuses on efforts by Trump and his allies to undo the results of the 2020 presidential election.