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TIMELINE: What led to Trump's federal indictment in documents case

Former President Donald Trump said he is now facing federal criminal charges, but the investigation has been underway for some time.
TIMELINE: What led to Trump's federal indictment in documents case
Posted at 6:25 PM, Jun 08, 2023

Former President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he is facing an indictment in the Department of Justice's investigation into his handling of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago residence. 

The case has been more than a year in the making. Here is a look at the events that led to his pending indictment. 

SEE MORE: Donald Trump says he was indicted in federal records probe

November 6, 2020: Former Vice President Joe Biden becomes the projected winner of the 2020 presidential election, four days after polls closed across the country. President Donald Trump rejected his defeat and maintained claims he was being cheated. 

November 23, 2020: The General Services Administration formally recognized Biden’s victory, allowing him to formally begin the transition. This also served as a signal to federal agencies to begin transferring power from Trump to Biden. 

Officials begin sending documents to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence.

January 20, 2021: Trump leaves the presidency and all of its powers. At this point, he no longer has the ability to declassify records. 

May 24, 2022: Trump is subpoenaed by a U.S. District Court to hand over federal documents to the FBI. National Archives officials have since testified they knew of certain documents that should have been in their possession, prompting the federal investigation. 

June 2022: Trump hands over some material, but the Department of Justice believes the response is “incomplete.” 

August 8, 2022: Trump confirms federal authorities executed a search warrant at his Mar-a-Lago residence. 

August 11, 2022: Attorney General Merrick Garland asked a court to unseal the search warrant officials served on the residence. In order to obtain a search warrant, investigators must display probable cause that they would obtain evidence of a crime. That info is generally not made public. 

August 12, 2022: The search warrant was made public after Trump’s legal team did not object to releasing the search warrant. There were three potential criminal statutes listed in the search warrant. The search warrant said that 28 boxes of evidence were taken from Trump's residence, including multiple top-secret documents. The search warrant also suggests there were other confidential and secret documents taken.

SEE MORE: Former President Donald Trump's legal issues continue to compound

November 15, 2022: Trump announces he is running for a second term in an attempt to become the first former president since Grover Cleveland to reclaim the presidency after leaving office.

November 18, 2022: Longtime federal prosecutor Jack Smith is appointed by Garland to oversee cases involving Trump, including the investigation of the presidential records. In addition to the federal records investigation, Smith is reportedly digging into Trump’s alleged attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Smith is appointed to the post as part of the DOJ’s practice of avoiding the appearance of being political.

March 1, 2023: National Archives Chief Operating Officer William Bosanko tells Congress that every administration since President Ronald Reagan has mishandled classified documents. Bosakno acknowledges that when one-term presidents leave office, the process of transferring documents from the White House to the National Archives can be more chaotic. His testimony is not made public for two months. 

April 4, 2023: President Donald Trump is charged in a completely different case involving alleged hush money payments made on his behalf. Trump is charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in Manhattan. He pleads not guilty. 

June 7, 2023: Trump’s legal team is notified that he is the target of a federal investigation. This news indicates that Smith’s investigation is likely nearing a conclusion. 

June 8, 2023: Trump announces that he is facing criminal charges as part of Smith's investigation. 


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