Home / Blog / Trump asks 'How can DOJ possibly charge me' after his lawyers meet with feds

Trump asks 'How can DOJ possibly charge me' after his lawyers meet with feds

Apr 30, 2023Apr 30, 2023

Former President Donald Trump took to his social media website Monday to ask how the Justice Department could charge him in its probe into how he handled national security documents minutes after his attorneys were seen leaving the department.

"How can DOJ possibly charge me, who did nothing wrong, when no other president's were charged," Trump wrote in all caps on Truth Social.

He noted that Hillary Clinton was investigated by the FBI for having classified information on her private email server and "wasn't even close to being charged! Only Trump — the greatest witch hunt of all time!"

Trump posted the early afternoon remarks shortly after three of his lawyers — James Trusty, John Rowley and Lindsey Halligan — were seen leaving the Justice Department. The trio met with special counsel Jack Smith, who is overseeing the probe, and other officials, a person familiar with the matter said. Neither Attorney General Merrick Garland nor Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco were present, NBC News confirmed.

Trump's legal team was first spotted by CBS News and then was seen emerging from the building just before noon.

It's unclear whether Trump was reacting to anything his attorneys told him, but the meeting could be a further sign that the investigation into his handling of classified documents is nearing an end. NBC News reported Saturday that the grand jury hearing the case will meet this week.

Trump's campaign spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment about the meeting.

When the New York state grand jury that was investigating hush money payments Trump made to an adult film star and a former Playboy model was winding down its investigation, Trump wrote on Truth Social that he was going to be arrested that Tuesday, started fundraising off the claim and called for protests.

He was charged in that case with falsifying business records, but not until about two weeks later. He has pleaded not guilty.

The FBI began investigating the documents case last year after the National Archives alerted it that government documents Trump had returned to it after having been out of office for about a year included 184 that were marked as classified.

The feds later issued a subpoena for the return of all documents with classification markings, and Trump's lawyers handed over 38 more last June, including 17 marked "top secret." They also turned over a declaration that a "diligent search was conducted" and that "all responsive documents had been turned over," court papers show.

The Justice Department later obtained information that Trump had still more classified documents, and it executed a search warrant at his Florida home in August. The search turned up over 100 documents marked "confidential," "secret" and "top secret" in the storage room and in Trump's office.

Court records indicate the federal investigation has centered on possible crimes involving the handling of classified or sensitive national security records and obstruction.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing in the case and claimed that the documents belong to him and that they were all declassified.

The special counsel's office has obtained evidence that could undercut that defense — a recording of Trump in 2021 discussing a classified planning document that he had taken from his time at the White House, which he acknowledged was classified, a source directly familiar with the matter said last week.

Dareh Gregorian is a politics reporter for NBC News.