STORY: "We have one set of laws in this country and they apply to everyone."
U.S. Special Counsel Jack Smith, the lead prosecutor in the case against Donald Trump alleging the former president mishandled classified U.S. documents said on Friday that Trump had been indicted for violations of national security laws, which he said put the country at risk.
“Today, an indictment was unsealed charging Donald J. Trump with felony violations of our national security laws, as well as participating in a conspiracy to obstruct justice. This indictment was voted by a grand jury of citizens in the Southern district of Florida. [FLASH] Our laws that protect national defense information are critical to the safety and security of the United States, and they must be enforced. Violations of those laws put our country at risk."
His brief, two-and-a-half-minute press conference followed the unsealing of 37 criminal counts on Friday related to Trump's retention of some of the country's most sensitive security secrets after he left the White House in 2021.
According to the indictment, some classified documents were found in a bathroom, on a ballroom stage and in a storage room at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
The federal indictment also said that some documents included information about the secretive U.S. nuclear program and potential domestic vulnerabilities in the event of an attack.
Trump also allegedly discussed with lawyers the possibility of lying to government officials seeking to recover the documents.
According to the 49-page indictment, Trump said to one of his attorneys: "Wouldn't it be better if we just told them we don't have anything here?"
Trump has proclaimed his innocence in the case and took to his Truth Social platform after the charges were unsealed to attack Special Counsel Smith, saying: "He is a Trump Hater - a deranged 'psycho' that shouldn't be involved in any case having to do with 'Justice.'"
At an event in North Carolina on Friday, President Joe Biden distanced himself from the federal indictment of his political rival.
REPORTER: "President Biden, have you spoken to Attorney General Merrick Garland yet?"
"I have not spoken to him at all. I'm not going to speak to him. I have no comment on what happened."
Trump is due to make his first court appearance in the case in a Miami court on Tuesday. A former aide, Walt Nauta, faces charges in the case as well.
Earlier on Friday, two of the former president’s lawyers John Rowley on the left here and Jim Trusty on the right quit the case for reasons that were not immediately clear.