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Former President Donald Trump surrendered to authorities Tuesday afternoon at a courthouse in Miami to face federal criminal charges in special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into his handling of sensitive U.S. government documents.
Trump appeared before a federal Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman in the Southern District of Florida where he pleaded not guilty to 37 felony counts for his alleged retention of national defense information, his alleged attempts to obstruct the investigation, and for allegedly lying to investigators.
Trump attorney Todd Blanche told the magistrate judge, “We most certainly enter a plea of not guilty.”
🚨#BREAKING: Former President Trump Arrives in Miami Federal Courthouse for Classified Documents Case Arraignment
Currently Former President Donald Trump, along with his motorcade has just arrived into the federal at the courthouse in Miami Florida for the… pic.twitter.com/N8zQOfsk9u
— R A W S A L E R T S (@rawsalerts) June 13, 2023
Trump reportedly had electronic copies of his fingerprints taken by authorities but was not placed in handcuffs and did not have a mugshot taken.
“President Trump is in a very unique position where he does not need to be given a mug shot, obviously,” Trump attorney Alina Habba said outside the courthouse. “He’s not a flight risk. He is the leading candidate of the G.O.P. at the moment. He is going through a process that has been coordinated with the Secret Service, and it will all be handled seamlessly.”
Walt Nauta, a personal aide to the former president, delayed entering a plea in the case because he had issues with finding a local lawyer. Nauta was charged with Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice, Withholding a Document or Record, Corruptly Concealing a Document or Record, Concealing a Document in a Federal Investigation, Scheme to Conceal, and False Statements and Representations.
Trump is accused in the indictment of retaining classified documents “regarding defense and weapons capabilities of both the United States and foreign countries; United States nuclear programs; potential vulnerabilities of the United States and its allies to military, attack; and plans for possible retaliation in response to a foreign attack.”
Legal experts have said that while there is certainly an argument that can be made about whether the former president was targeted by the DOJ, the most damning piece of alleged evidence in the indictment is an audio tape of the former president.
The indictment states:
In July 2021, at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey (“The Bedminster Club”), during an audio-recorded meeting with a writer, a publisher, and two members of his staff, none of whom possessed a security clearance, [Trump] showed and described a “plan of attack” that [Trump] said was prepared for him by the Department of Defense and a senior military official. [Trump] told the individuals that the plan was “highly confidential” and “secret.” [Trump] also said, “as president I could have declassified it,” and, “Now I can’t, you know, but this is still a secret.”
Former U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who served in the Trump administration, warned during an interview over the weekend that if even half of things Trump is accused of doing are true that the former president is “toast.”
The former attorney general addressed claims from Trump’s allies that the case has to do with the Presidential Records Act and not the Espionage Act—the federal statute that Trump was charged 31 times with allegedly violating.
“Well, it started out under the Presidential Records Act and the Archives trying to retrieve documents that Trump had no right to have,” Barr said. “But it quickly became clear that what the government was really worried about were these classified and very sensitive documents. I was shocked by the degree of sensitivity of these documents and how many there were, frankly. And so the government’s agenda was to get those, protect those documents and get them out. And I think it was perfectly appropriate to do that, it was the right thing to do. And I think the counts under the Espionage Act, that he willfully retained those documents are solid counts.”
Barr said that the indictment was “very detailed” and “very damning” if the allegations contained in it are true.
“And this idea of presenting Trump as a victim here, or a victim of a witch hunt, is ridiculous,” Barr added. “Yes, he’s been a victim in the past. Yes, his adversaries have obsessively pursued him with phony claims. And I’ve been at his side defending against them when he is a victim. But this is much different. He’s not a victim here.”
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