When Donald Trump was indicted on charges of willful retention of classified documents, many Republicans, including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), cried foul, arguing that the Justice Department was treating the 45th president differently from Democrats who’ve been investigated over possible mishandling of national security secrets. The Trump indictment itself helps explain the difference between his case and other high-profile probes, like those of Hillary Clinton, President Biden and former vice president Mike Pence — not for what it charges, but for what it doesn’t, reports the Washington Post. Trump faces 31 counts of willful retention of national defense information, a crime delineated in the Espionage Act that carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. Each count represents a different highly sensitive document that Trump allegedly kept at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida residence and private club.
Twenty-one of those documents, including some involving nuclear secrets, were found by FBI agents who searched the estate in August — yielding a total of 102 classified documents. The other 10 willful-retention charges stem from a batch of 38 classified documents turned over to the FBI last June in response to a grand jury subpoena. The historic investigation into the former president was precipitated months earlier, in January 2022, when Trump president gave 15 boxes of papers to the National Archives and Records Administration. The agency had been seeking all presidential records from Trump since he left office. FBI agents found more than 100 classified documents during a search of Trump’s residence at his Mar-a-Lago Club on Aug. 8 as part of a criminal probe into possible mishandling of classified information. Those allegations include: moving boxes out of a storage room; telling an attorney to search that room for classified material without saying that dozens of boxes were being kept elsewhere; suggesting an attorney hide or destroy documents that had been subpoenaed; and causing another person to make false statements about whether all the classified documents had been produced. “That’s not the kind of evidence you typically find in a case like this, and it’s certainly not the type of evidence so far that has come out of the Biden investigation or the Clinton email server case,” said former federal prosecutor Robert Mintz.