June 14, 2023: Former President Donald Trump pleads not guilty to mishandling classified documents. The appeal was made during a court appearance in Miami, Florida, where Trump sat silently, displaying a severe demeanor.
After the hearing, Trump traveled to his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he addressed supporters. In his speech, he asserted his right to possess the classified documents but claimed he needed more time to review them. He also aired various unsubstantiated claims and expressed grievances against President Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton.
Earlier in the day, Trump took to his social media platform, Truth Social, to thank the city of Miami for its welcome on what he called a sad day for the country.
During the court proceedings, Trump’s attorney, Todd Blanche, officially entered a plea of not guilty to the 37 charges against Trump, which include illegal retention of classified documents and obstruction of government efforts to retrieve them. Trump’s co-defendant, Walt Nauta, a close aide facing six criminal counts, sat alongside him.
The prosecution team, including special counsel Jack Smith, was seated on the other side of the courtroom. Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman ruled that Trump could not communicate with Nauta about the case but did not impose travel restrictions on Trump, as the prosecution does not consider him a flight risk.
Following the hearing, Trump left the courthouse with a thumbs-up gesture to his supporters. He interacted with enthusiastic fans at a nearby Cuban restaurant, participated in prayers, and received birthday wishes.
Outside the court, Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, reiterated his claims that the charges were politically motivated, comparing them to tactics used in dictatorships.
No mugshot was taken, but Trump underwent digital fingerprinting and submitted a DNA sample by swab. The trial date has yet to be set, but the case is assigned to federal district judge Aileen Cannon, whom Trump appointed.
The charges stem from discovering over 100 classified documents with markings at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. Prosecutors allege that he stored these files improperly, including in a ballroom and a bathroom, and conspired with an aide to obstruct the FBI’s investigation.
Despite the legal challenges, Trump continues to enjoy support among Republican voters. A recent poll indicated that most likely Republican primary voters viewed the indictment as politically motivated rather than a national security concern.
It is important to note that the Department of Justice operates independently of the White House, and President Biden has emphasized that he has not influenced their decisions.
Legal experts suggest that if convicted, Trump could face significant prison time. However, regardless of the trial’s outcome, Trump has vowed to persist with his presidential campaign.
This court appearance follows another in April, where Trump faced charges related to falsifying business records for a payment made to a porn star before the 2016 election.