What is known about the audio that could compromise Trump? 3:39

(CNN) -- The Justice Department recently informed Donald Trump's legal team that the former president is one of the targets in the investigation into possible mishandling of classified documents, sources familiar with the matter told CNN. Which shows a sign that prosecutors may be moving closer to indicting the former president.

The sources were briefed on the notification letter to Trump's team and its contents, but did not have access to it.

The decision by prosecutors to inform Trump that he is a target crystallizes the fact that the investigation — led by special counsel Jack Smith — has focused on the actions of the former president and not just on the behaviors of those around him.

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Trump's legal team met Monday with Justice Department officials, including special counsel Jack Smith, to discuss the investigation. The meeting focused on allegations by Trump's lawyers against prosecutors in the case for alleged misconduct. According to the source, Smith said nothing beyond greeting those in the meeting room.

Justice Department regulations allow prosecutors to notify subjects of an investigation who have become targets of the investigation. Such notification is often a strong signal that the next step will be an indictment, although it is also possible that the recipient will not ultimately be charged.


Such notices are not mandatory, but prosecutors have the discretion to send them. Once informed, the person who has become a target has the opportunity to present evidence or testify before the grand jury if they wish.

Trump, in an interview with The New York Times' Maggie Haberman on Wednesday, avoided answering whether he had been notified he was now a target in the special counsel's investigation. However, he did deny that he had been informed that he would be charged.

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Several people who spoke extensively with Trump this week told CNN they were confused by the news, adding that Trump never said he was the subject of the investigation nor did he appear agitated.

Smith's investigation into possible mishandling of classified documents and possible obstruction of justice appears to be nearing its final stage for weeks.

The investigation examined Trump's handling of classified documents he brought with him to his resort in Mar-a-Lago, Florida, after leaving the White House, including actions that were taken after receiving a subpoena in May 2022 to return all classified materials in his possession. Last August, FBI agents recovered more than 100 classified documents from Mar-a-Lago after obtaining a search warrant.

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Prosecutors questioned dozens of witnesses in recent months, including Trump's top aides and staffers at his Florida respite center. Most of the witnesses appeared before a grand jury in Washington, but in recent weeks a federal grand jury in Florida also heard testimony from several witnesses.

Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, considered a pivotal witness in Smith's investigation, testified before a federal grand jury as part of Smith's ongoing investigations into the former president's handling of classified documents as well as efforts to overturn the 2020 election, another source familiar with the matter said.

CNN's Holmes Lybrand and Tierney Sneed contributed to this report.

Classified documents