Donald Trump arrived in Miami Monday to face charges of hoarding classified documents, in a legal calculation that goes far beyond allegations of misconduct that the former US president has largely brushed off so far.
Trump will appear in court on Tuesday to answer allegations that he lied and conspired to keep dozens of government secrets that he took to his Florida beachfront mansion when he left office in 2021.
The high-stakes indictment — which Trump supporters say is a politically motivated attempt to block their champion’s way back to the White House — has fueled fears of unrest, with Miami police bracing for a crowd of as many as 50,000.
Facing charges that could lead to decades in prison, the twice-elected Republican struck a defiant note as he prepared to become the first of America’s 46 presidents to face federal court.
“We must all be STRONG and DEFEAT the communists, Marxists and radical left insane who are systematically destroying our country,” Trump posted on his Truth Social network as he flew to spend the night at his Florida golf course, 25 minutes away drive from court.
The runaway front-runner in the 2024 Republican primary said the latest indictment would not force him to drop out of the race — mounting a campaign unlike any other in history that will fight a legal battle against an electoral battle.
“I will never leave. Look, if I would have left, I would have left prior to the original race in 2016,” Trump told Politico on his plane as he campaigned over the weekend.
– ‘Ridiculous and baseless’ –
The billionaire, who turns 77 on Wednesday, is charged with willful possession of clearly marked government secrets, refusing to return them and conspiracy to obstruct investigators trying to uncover them.
He is also accused of sharing sensitive US secrets with people who lacked security clearance, in a much more serious case than ever before.
The indictment included photos of boxes supposed to be in the National Archives stacked at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Palm Beach residence, in a “ballroom, a bathroom and shower, an office area, his bedroom, and a storage room.” .
The former president has dismissed the 49-page indictment released by the Justice Department after months of investigation by a special prosecutor as “ridiculous and baseless.”
Security around the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. courthouse was staged in Miami and several protests were planned, including by a local chapter of the far-right Proud Boys group.
“We hope tomorrow will be peaceful. We encourage people to be peaceful by showing how they feel,” Miami Republican Mayor Francis Suarez told reporters.
Trump is expected to fly to his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey afterwards to reiterate his innocence in a speech to supporters.
– ‘Rocket roll’ –
The Republican former president has been impeached twice, charged with interfering in a federal investigation into his campaign’s extensive ties to Russia, and charged in a civil suit for sexual assault.
His company has been convicted of fraud, his “Trump University” training program shut down due to lawsuits, and his charity was dissolved by court order amid a litany of controversy.
Trump’s campaign chairman, deputy campaign chairman, personal attorney, chief strategist, national security adviser, foreign policy adviser, campaign fixer and chief financial officer have all been convicted of crimes related to their time in his job and some have received prison terms.
But Trump did not face personal criminal exposure in any of those cases.
That changed dramatically in March when a New York state prosecutor charged Trump with 34 felonies over allegations that he covered up hush money payments to a porn star.
Trump’s allies in Congress and rivals for the presidential nomination have largely circled the wagons following his new indictment, decrying the administration’s “arming” against conservatives.
Some Republican legislators have been criticized for rhetoric that could lead to violence, including Louisiana’s Clay Higgins, who told supporters to “buckle up” and Arizona’s Andy Biggs, who tweeted, “We’ve now entered a war phase. Eye for an eye. “
Florida’s Southern District is known as a “rocket docket” court, legal jargon for venues pushing for speedy justice, and authorities have not ruled out a trial before the 2024 election.
Much of the focus in the preliminary ruling proceedings will be on the court’s Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee who was arbitrarily assigned the case and will have a huge influence on how fast things move.
Cannon made a series of rulings in favor of Trump earlier in the case, blocking the investigation for weeks until a conservative appeals court ruled she had acted outside of her authority.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and is being published from a syndicated feed.)