As a candidate and president, Mr Trump repeatedly called for his 2016 presidential opponent to be locked up after she was found to have been “extremely careless” in using a private server for official communications as secretary of state.
Privately, he joked about how her lawyers had “done a great job” deleting the emails and in his telling, protecting her from scrutiny, according to the indictment.
The unsealed indictment details a conversation Mr Trump held with two lawyers, listed as Trump Attorney 1 and Trump Attorney 2, on 23 May 2022.
The lawyers informed Mr Trump he would have to comply with a Department of Justice subpoena to turn over any classified materials to the National Archive.
“I don’t want anyone looking through my boxes, I really don’t, I don’t want you looking through my boxes,” Mr Trump said, according to the indictment.
Mr Trump later asked: “Well, what happens if we just don’t respond at all or don’t play ball with them?”
In a subsequent conversation, “memorialised” by Attorney 1, Mr Trump praised Ms Clinton’s lawyers for deleting the emails.
“He was great, he did a great job,” Mr Trump allegedly said.
“He said that it... was him. That he was the one who deleted all of her emails, the 30,000 emails because they basically dealt with her scheduling and her going to the gym and her having beauty appointments.
“So she didn’t get in any trouble because he said that he was the one who deleted him.”
The identity of the attorney who supposedly deleted Ms Clinton’s emails was redacted. Trump Attorney 1, who was apparently recording the conversation, was said to be Evan Corcoran, according to CNN.
The indictment, released a day after Mr Trump announced its existence, revealed that he has been charged with 37 counts including conspiracy to obstruct justice and scheme to conceal that laid bare for the first time the vast scope of the classified document investigation.
Special Counsel Jack Smith alleges that he took classified documents containing nuclear secrets and military invasion plans, and stored them in rooms at Mar-a-Lago.
According to the indictment, FBI agents collected a total of 102 classified documents during a search of Mar-a-Lago last August.
Ms Clinton’s use of a personal email system was the subject of two FBI probes during the height of the 2016 presidential campaign.
In July of that year, an FBI investigation concluded that no “reasonable prosecutor” would bring a case against Ms Clinton.
The FBI said that she and her aides had been “extremely careless” in their handling of classified information.
Then 11 days before the election, then-FBI director James Comey sensationally announced he was reopening the case after discovering new emails, which turned out to be duplicates of the ones the FBI had already examined.
The investigation was widely blamed for tilting the election in Mr Trump’s favour.
“Bringing this back in light of recent news: Get a limited-edition But Her Emails hat and support @onwardtogether groups working to strengthen our democracy”.
Twitter users were quick to comment on Mr Trump praising Ms Clinton’s aide.
“The indictment made clear an abiding Trump trait: his admiration for people who exhibit gamesmanship w authorities. He allegedly praised an unnamed Hillary Clinton aide who deleted her emails. Why? Because, in Mr. Trump’s account, the aide ensured that Mrs. Clinton ‘didn’t get in any trouble’,” Maggie Haberman of The New York Times tweeted.
“Remember when he bragged about avoiding payment of taxes during a debate? We’ve known this for a while,” consultant Joni Kletter responded.
“And was praised for having done so. Presumably by people who will never have the $ to hire the accountants and lawyers that can save them should they be audited,” one Twitter user added.
“Does he have any redeeming qualities. Does he really love golf, because he cheats. So no,” another account holder said.
“He’s such a two-bit criminal,” a third wrote.
“That he idolized Roy Cohn should have been enough long ago,” Roger Schwab said.
“He was literally raised on deceit,” Jessica Heintz added.