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Students React to The Trump Indictment

President Donald Trump delivers an update on Operation Warp Speed at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 13, 2020. (Chris Kleponis/Pool/Abaca Press/TNS)

Former President Donald Trump has been indicted in court on 37 felony counts related to his mishandling of classified government documents. Here’s everything you need to know about the Trump indictment and investigation.

Under the Presidential Records Act, the government owns all presidential records and former presidents must get permission to keep these documents. According to the indictment report, as Trump was leaving office on Jan. 21, 2021 he unlawfully had “scores of boxes, many of which contained classified documents” transported to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

Many of these documents contained highly sensitive government information including foreign military plans and information on nuclear weaponry. According to photos and witness testimony, Trump had these documents stored openly in a ballroom, bathroom, shower, office space, storage room and in his bedroom. Despite this, Trump continued to hold large social gatherings at Mar-a-Lago. 

According to the indictment report, Trump on two separate occasions showed off these classified documents, once to his staff members and once to a representative in his political action committee. 

On March 30, 2022 the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) began an investigation into the illegal retention of government documents after becoming aware of several missing. Sometime after, they requested that Trump hand back the documents. The former president responded by instructing his attorney to tell the FBI that he didn’t have any unlawful documents and then instructing a staff member, Waltine Nauta, to move and conceal several boxes of documents. 

Knowing that there were still more missing documents, the FBI subpoenaed Trump a couple more times before obtaining a search-warrant on Aug. 8 and raiding the Mar-a-Lago residence. Overall, 120 classified documents were seized from the property.  

After this Trump was federally investigated for breaching the Espionage Act Section 793(e) which makes it illegal for unauthorized individuals to own classified government documents as it puts national security at risk.

After a series of court appearances, Trump was eventually indicted on June 8. However, being indicted is not the same thing as being criminally charged. When an alleged felony is brought to court, the prosecutor has to first present their evidence to a jury of impartial citizens known as a grand jury. If the grand jury agrees that the evidence points toward a guilty verdict, then the accused person is booked, processed and then may be put in a holding cell or released pending the arraignment. 

Trump was arraigned on June 13 where he pleaded not guilty, after which the court was adjourned to be continued on a later date. Many expect Trump’s legal team to continue pushing the case out for as long as possible but for now, this is all the information available as a new court date has not been set.

Since the indictment, an audio recording obtained by CNN has been published of Trump seemingly admitting to having unlawful, classified documents. The recording is from July 2021 and Trump can be heard referencing documents which detail a secret plan for the Pentagon to attack Iran.

As the evidence mounts and a trial date is coordinated, students at Grand Rapids Community College share their thoughts on the indictment.

Thaden Weeks, an 18-year-old GRCC student, said that Trump’s actions are reprehensible and he shouldn’t be given special treatment in his upcoming trial.

“It was so damaging to American security,” said Weeks. “I think anybody who commits any crime deserves to be brought to justice for that no matter what their power is.”

Another student, Nate Holt, 22, said, “It does seem like he did do it, but I don’t think he did it out of malicious intent or to downgrade the country.”

However, Holt does believe that the mishandling of the documents should prevent Trump from being able to run again if he’s convicted. Currently in American law, there is nothing preventing someone from running for president even if they’ve committed a felony or are incarcerated

GRCC student Quinn Schroder, 19, agrees with Holt.

 “I don’t think someone who’s done what he’s probably done…should be able to run again especially after how much we’re seeing of classified documents that he’s taken out of the White House,” Schroder said. “You can’t trust them again.”

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