Trump denies wrongdoing after new charges filed in secret documents case

Former US president faces new allegations he moved to destroy security footage requested by the Department of Justice.

Former US President Donald Trump speaks to campaign volunteers at the Elks Lodge, July 18, 2023, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. A target letter sent to Donald Trump suggests that a sprawling Justice Department investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 elections is zeroing in on him [Charlie Neibergall/AP Photo/File]
Former US President Donald Trump has said he will press forward with his 2024 presidential campaign even if he is found guilty and sentenced [Charlie Neibergall/AP Photo]

Donald Trump has denied wrongdoing in a growing criminal case into his handling of classified material, hours after United States prosecutors filed new charges accusing the former US president of obstruction of justice.

In an interview on Friday with ​​conservative radio host John Fredericks, Trump dismissed allegations that he ordered an employee at his Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida to delete security camera footage sought by the Department of Justice.

“These were security tapes. We handed them over to them … I’m not even sure what they’re saying,” Trump said.

US Special Counsel Jack Smith filed three new criminal charges against Trump on Thursday, and charged a Mar-a-Lago maintenance worker, 56-year-old Carlos De Oliveira, with obstruction of justice, among other counts.

The new charges add to Trump’s long list of legal troubles and investigations, but the Republican presidential frontrunner said on Friday that he would push forward with his campaign even if he were found guilty and sentenced.

“Not at all. There’s nothing in the Constitution to say that it could,” he told Fredericks when asked if sentencing would put an end to his 2024 campaign.

Trump was indicted last month in the documents case, as prosecutors accused him of taking classified national security files with him after his time as president had ended and he left the White House. He previously pleaded not guilty.

The former president’s valet, Walt Nauta, who was accused in June of helping Trump hide boxes of documents sought by the Department of Justice, also faced new charges this week. Nauta previously pleaded not guilty.

Federal authorities have accused the former Republican president of keeping the documents at his resort in Florida. They also say he sought to mislead them about his possession of the files.

The case is one of several legal woes Trump faces as he leads a crowded race for the Republican presidential nomination.

But despite the investigations, Adolfo Franco, a lawyer and Republican strategist, told Al Jazeera on Friday that Trump continues to enjoy widespread support.

“The bottom line is, politically it’s a benefit to [former] President Trump,” said Franco, adding that there is a perception in the US that there are separate standards for Democrats and Republicans.

“And that’s why his support continues to grow,” he said.

On Thursday, Trump said that his lawyers had met Department of Justice officials earlier in the day to discourage the federal agency from filing charges against him in a separate case linked to the January 6, 2021, US Capitol riot.

Late last year, a congressional panel that investigated the Capitol attack by a mob of Trump’s supporters recommended criminal charges against the former president.

And last week, Trump said he had received a letter from Smith, the special counsel who is leading federal investigations into the former president, asking him to report to a grand jury.

“My attorneys had a productive meeting with the DOJ this morning, explaining in detail that I did nothing wrong, was advised by many lawyers, and that an Indictment of me would only further destroy our Country,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Trump was charged in New York earlier this year for falsifying business records in relation to a hush-money payment made to a porn star before the 2016 elections.

He is also being investigated over allegations that he pressured election officials in the southern state of Georgia to overturn the will of the state’s voters in his favour based on false claims that the 2020 election had been “rigged” against him.

Trump has denied wrongdoing in all the cases, dismissing them as a political witch-hunt.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies