Donald Trump pleads not guilty at Miami court to 37 criminal charges related to classified documents

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  • June 13, 2023
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onald Trump has pleaded not guilty at a federal court in Miami to federal criminal charges accusing him of illegally hoarded classified documents in his Florida estate.

The former US president entered not guilty pleas to a 37 counts as he appeared before a US magistrate judge in a hearing closed to cameras and live broadcasts.

He is accussed of unlawfully keeping documents relating to national security when he left office and lying to officials who sought to recover them.

Trump’s plea to charges including willful retention of national defense information, making false statements and representations and conspiracy to obstruct justice, was announced to the court by his lawyer, Todd Blanche, as the former president sat alongside him.

“We are certainly entering a plea of not guilty,” Mr Blanche told the court.

Former US President Donald Trump waves from his vehicle following his appearance

/ AFP via Getty Images

Mr Trump’s former aide Walt Nauta, also charged in the case, appeared in court as well and also entered not guilty pleas to the charges he faced.

Mr Trump – the first former US president charged with federal crimes – was allowed to leave the court with no travel conditions set for his bail, the BBC reported.

Prosecutors told Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman they did not believe the former president was a “flight risk.”

This was thought to be the case because Trump, who owns his own private plane, still has Secret Service protection.

US media called the proceedings “very barebones” and “pro forma”, saying it only lasted roughly five minutes.

Mr Trump departed his Doral golf course Tuesday afternoon en route to the courthouse, where he surrendered to federal authorities ahead of facing the judge.

Getty Images

Mr Trump’s motorcade arrived on Tuesday at the court shortly before he was scheduled to appear.

His supporters, anti-Trump protesters and a large group of international journalists gathered outside the courthouse to witness the former president’s history-making court appearance.

The former president and Nauta were arrested and booked shortly after they arrived on Tuesday afternoon together at court.

The former president had his fingerprints taken but no mugshot was taken, according to reports.

He would have his birthdate and Social Security number taken as part of the booking process at the federal courthouse, a spokesman for the US Marshals Service said.

Mr Trump was indicted last week on 37 felony charges accusing him of willfully retaining classified documents and obstructing justice.

Alina Habba, lawyer for former President Donald Trump, spoke outside the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. U.S. Courthouse

/ AP

The unsealed indictment showed that Donald Trump kept classified documents in a bathroom, shower, ballroom, storeroom, office, and bedroom.

The indictment, which was made public on Friday, said Trump was personally involved in moving boxes to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and showed documents to others on at least two occasions.

The charges accuse the president of risking some of the country’s most sensitive security secrets.

Details on the US nuclear weapons programmes, potential vulnerabilities of the US and its allies, and US plans for retaliatory military attacks were in some of the documents, the federal indictment said.

Security was tight outside the federal courthouse as his supporters sold T-shirts with Trump’s face in a mock mugshot, with large letters reading “NOT GUILTY”.

As people awaited Mr Trump’s arrival, some waved Trump 2024 flags, supporting his bid for president.

His 2024 Republican presidential rivals have largely refrained from public campaign events today. Speaking on Tuesday morning outside court, Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy reiterated his commitment to pardoning Mr Trump if elected to the White House.

The arraignment, though largely procedural in nature, is the latest in an unprecedented public reckoning this year for Mr Trump, who faces charges in New York arising from hush money payments during his 2016 presidential campaign as well as ongoing investigations in Washington and Atlanta into efforts to undo the results of the 2020 race.

“They’re using this because they can’t win the election fairly and squarely,” Mr Trump said Monday in an interview with Americano Media.

Trump visited acuban cafe after his court appearance

/ Sky News

He visited a Cuban cafe after the court appearance when he shook hands and posed for selfies with supporters, who sung him ‘Happy Birthday’ ahead of his 77th birthday on Wednesday.

He was prayed for by a Cuban American minister, who prayed that “communism would not come to these shores”.

Speaking to reporters at the cafe, Mr Trump said the US is a “rigged” and “corrupt” country that has “nothing but problems”.

“We have a country that is in decline like never before and we can’t let it happen,” he said, adding that he would make a speech tonight.

He thanked the crowd and called them “a great group of people”.