Tuesday, former President Donald Trump entered a not guilty plea in a federal courthouse in Miami. Trump faces 37 federal charges, including unlawfully retaining government secrets and conspiring to obstruct justice, in a historic indictment of a former president.
The indictment alleges that Trump was personally involved in packing the documents upon his departure from the White House in 2021, that he boasted about possessing classified materials, and that he caused his own attorney to mislead the FBI about the types of documents he had stored at Mar-a-Lago.
His assistant Walt Nauta has also been charged with hiding documents and making false statements. Nauta did not enter a plea Tuesday.
Trump claims he is innocent and is being unjustly targeted by prosecutors due to his reelection campaign. These claims of partiality within the Justice Department are echoed by his Republican allies in Congress.
In remarks made last week, special counsel Jack Smith, who was appointed by the Justice Department to supervise an independent investigation of Trump, defended the work of his team and the FBI.
“We have a single set of laws in this country, and they apply to everyone,” he said.
On Tuesday, the former president appeared in court for processing. Trump was registered, a process that involved the collection of digital fingerprints. However, he was not in restraints, nor had his passport been surrendered, nor was he subject to travel restrictions.
During the hearing, Trump’s and the government’s counsel exchanged views on communication with potential witnesses.
In the end, it was agreed that the government will provide a list of witnesses with whom Trump is prohibited from communicating regarding the case; Nauta is likely to be included on this list.
Outside the courtroom, law enforcement had anticipated a crowd of up to 50,000 people, but in the end, only about 1,000 Trump supporters gathered to demonstrate their support for the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024. The majority of crowds remained tranquil.
Trump devoted the rest of the afternoon to making his case to supporters.
Trump spent the rest of the afternoon surrounded by supporters, an indication that he is determined to win at least in the court of public opinion.
His convoy made an unscheduled halt at Versailles, a Cuban restaurant in Little Havana, Miami, shortly after leaving the courthouse.
Trump smiled and shook palms with dozens of individuals inside the restaurant. At one point, he yelled “food for everyone” while the throng chanted “USA!”
Trump then travelled to Bedminster, New Jersey, where he addressed a crowd congregated at his golf club for a fundraiser. Trump reiterated for thirty minutes that the investigation was evidence of a corrupt administration using justice as a weapon.
Trump’s first words on the stage were, “Today we witnessed the most evil and heinous abuse of power in the history of this country.” “In the midst of a presidential campaign in which he was losing badly, a corrupt incumbent president had his top political opponent arrested on false and fabricated charges for which he and other presidents would have been liable — charges for which he and other presidents would also have been guilty.”
If elected in 2024, he has stated that he will appoint a special prosecutor to investigate President Biden and his family.
A special counsel is investigating how Biden obtained classified documents from his tenure as vice president for his private office and home. In this case, however, there is no indication that Biden is resisting turning over any of the documents, as Trump allegedly did for approximately a year.