The eyes of the political world will turn to the federal courthouse in Miami on Tuesday as former President Donald J. Trump is expected to surrender for his first appearance on charges that he illegally obtained documents from the national government after leaving office. safety, obstructed attempts to recover them, and made false statements. explanations.
The extraordinary event will mark the former president’s second time appearing in court as a criminal defendant, following his arraignment in April at a New York courthouse on charges of falsifying business records in connection with a hush money payment to a porn star just before the attacks of 2016. election.
After the hearing, Mr. Trump, who has protested the new charges, will fly to New Jersey. He has announced that he will be making comments at his golf club in Bedminster at 8.15pm
Miami authorities are bracing for protests from both Trump supporters and opponents. Some of his backers, in an investigation led by semi-independent Special Prosecutor Jack Smith, have portrayed this charge as an act of war and called for retaliation.
During Mr Trump’s arraignment in New York in April, crowds of rival protesters outside the courthouse were noisy but peaceful.
Mr Trump has said the hearing will be at 3 p.m. His team has discussed safety arrangements and procedures for the event with authorities and it is not yet clear how certain details will be handled.
Criminal defendants taken into custody before appearing in court are often handcuffed, fingerprinted and photographed for a mugshot. However, in April, authorities in New York only fingerprinted Mr Trump and did not handcuff or photograph him.
It is also not yet clear which judge will supervise the hearing.
Mr. Trump’s case has been assigned to Judge Aileen M. Cannon, who previously heard a lawsuit he filed against the FBI-authorized search of his Mar-a-Lago estate and club in Florida. That search came in August, after Trump failed to fully cooperate with a subpoena requiring him to return any documents with classification marks he still had.
Judge Cannon was appointed by Mr Trump days after he lost the November 2020 election. Last year, she surprised legal experts across the ideological divide by intervening in several rulings favorable to Trump, disrupting the documents search until a conservative appeals court rebuked her, saying she never had the legal authority to intervene. to grab. Her assignment to the criminal case was arbitrary, Florida’s southern district chief clerk has said.
Mr. Trump never appeared before Judge Cannon during the earlier trial, so if she handles Tuesday’s hearing, they would come face to face. But such hearings are often overseen by a magistrate instead. On Tuesday, that could be the magistrate working with Judge Cannon, Bruce Reinhart — who signed the search warrant for Mar-a-Lago — or it could be any magistrate on duty at the Miami courthouse.
At the hearing, Mr. Trump will likely stand quietly next to his lawyer until the judge gives him permission to speak. It is also not yet clear whether Mr. Trump will return later for an arraignment or enter his expected plea of not guilty on Tuesday to remove the need to return for that move.
Searching Mar-a-Lago, agents found 102 documents marked classified. Mr. Smith has charged Mr. Trump with 37 counts of unauthorized retention of national security information based on 36 of those documents, along with a document that agents found had no markings and made certain “military contingency plans.”
The indictment also contains a range of evidence supporting prosecutors’ allegations that Mr. Trump knew he still had classified documents; took steps with his co-defendant, Walt Nauta, to keep them before the government even after being subpoenaed; and caused one of his lawyers to unknowingly lie to the Justice Department about the case.
On Fox News on Sunday, William P. Barr, Mr. Trump’s former attorney general who has fallen out of favor with Mr. Trump since refusing to falsely say the 2020 election was stolen, said that Mr. Trump is “here was not a victim. Mr Barr added that Mr Trump was apparently involved in “blatant obstruction” of holding highly sensitive documents to which he was not entitled.
Referring to the assessment of another conservative legal commentator, Andy McCarthy, Mr. barr also said: “If even half is true, it is toast. I mean, it’s a very detailed indictment, and it’s very, very damning.”