Unsealed Trump indictment paints a picture of Mar-a-Lago as a piñata of government secrets

Trump could have built a fort with the massive piles of boxes he had in there

By Kelly McClure

Nights & Weekends Editor
Published June 9, 2023 5:03PM (EDT)
Updated June 9, 2023 8:05PM (EDT)
A woman celebrating the indictment of Donald Trump holds a banner in front of the White House in Washington, DC, on June 9, 2023.  (MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
A woman celebrating the indictment of Donald Trump holds a banner in front of the White House in Washington, DC, on June 9, 2023. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

The full details of Donald Trump's latest indictment — enforced on Thursday and cracked open on Friday — brings to mind pre-guillotine Versailles. Photos of Mar-a-Lago that have now been made public show a version of Trump's estate befitting its own Sofia Coppola edit. A ballroom stage, cluttered with boxes upon boxes of classified government documents. A spare bathroom accoutred with a chandelier — Florida sun catching the crystals, shimmering across a spill of documents stamped "confidential." A still of October 15, 1793, ticks of the clock prior to a slash through history that will change things forever. 

Reading through the 44-page indictment detailing the bounty of materials that Trump took from the White House post-presidency, it's revealed that he held "information regarding defense and weapons capabilities of both the United States and foreign countries; United States nuclear programs; potential vulnerabilities of the United States and its allies to military attack; and plans for possible retaliation in response to a foreign attack." At least some of which was discussed by Trump and/or shown to random visitors at his estate.

Trump faces 37 counts for his piñata of intel, which CBS News details as such:

  • 31 counts of willful retention of classified documents
  • 1 count of conspiracy to obstruct justice
  • 1 count of withholding a document or record
  • 1 count of corruptly concealing a document or record
  • 1 count of concealing a document in a federal investigation
  • 1 count of scheme to conceal
  • and one count of making false statements and representations.

Want a daily wrap-up of all the news and commentary Salon has to offer? Subscribe to our morning newsletter, Crash Course.

The fact that Trump withheld sensitive government materials is made worse by where he chose to store them. As the indictment points out in many spots, Mar-a-Lago is "an active social club, which, between January 2021 and August 2022, hosted events for tens of thousands of members and guests." Meaning, not a storage facility for classified documents that he had no business taking from the White House in the first place.

According to Trump attorney Jim Trusty, the former president is "ready for battle." But how does one battle this much evidence pointing directly towards guilt?

"He's a fighter, and he's going to come out swinging, and he'll be fine," Trusty said. "He's not afraid of this thing." 

Good to point out here that Trusty — as well as another lawyer, John Rowley — resigned hours later, issuing a joint statement saying that "this is a logical moment" to do so. 

As CNBC points out, "Trump still faces two other criminal probes, as well: Smith's investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, pro-Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol, and an inquiry in Georgia looking into whether he attempted to interfere with the presidential election in that state."

According to former special counsel Ryan Goodman, this particular "battle" will be hard, if not impossible, for Trump to win.

"This is devastating. I have looked at all prior prosecutions under the Espionage Act and have never seen egregious facts like this," he said in a statement to Twitter.

Back to Versailles, where the oranges have rotted, the paint is peeling and the heads, they are about to be rollin'. 

By Kelly McClure

Kelly McClure is Salon's Nights and Weekends Editor covering daily news, politics and culture. Her work has been featured in Vulture, The A.V. Club, Vanity Fair, Cosmopolitan, Nylon, Vice, and elsewhere. She is the author of Something is Always Happening Somewhere.

MORE FROM Kelly McClure

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Brief Donald Trump Indictment Jack Smith Mar-a-lago Politics