Donald Trump pleaded not guilty to all 37 counts related to his alleged mishandling of federal documents presented against him in a Miami courtroom Tuesday afternoon.
The charges include 31 counts of willful retention of national defense information, two counts of false statements and representations, and one charge each of conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding a document or record, corruptly concealing a document or record, and scheme to conceal. He is the first American president to ever be indicted of a crime, federal or otherwise.
"We most certainly entered a plea of not guilty," Trump’s attorney, Todd Blanche, told the judge.
A mugshot was not taken and officials stated that cameras would not be allowed in the courtroom. His lawyer proceeded to ask for a jury trial during the arraignment after the plea had been entered. The former president did not speak during the hearing, which lasted approximately 45 minutes. A former aide and co-defendant, Walt Nauta, was also arrested, fingerprinted and processed on Tuesday. His arraignment will be held on June 27.
He was released to his own recognizance with no restrictions placed on international or domestic travel. Trump went to a Cuban restaurant in the city after the hearing and was flocked by both supporters and critics.
“They should never have done this,” he told the gathered crowd. “This was an unwritten rule, you just don’t unless it’s really bad. But you just don’t. But the seal is now broken.”
The Republican front-runner for the 2024 election does not believe the criminal charges brought against him have any merit. He has spoken out against the entire proceeding on his own social media platform, Truth Social, because he is still unable to post on mainstream sites seeing as he is still banned.
“The timing of my unjust INDICTMENT is no coincidence,” Trump posted on Truth Social. “Crooked Joe’s Department of Injustice is not just attempting to silence and IMPRISON his leading political opponent (me, and INNOCENT man) they’re actively COVERING UP one of the biggest scandals in our nation’s history.”
The judge presiding over the trial, Aileen Cannon, was appointed by Trump himself in 2019 and later confirmed by him in 2020. She has not recused herself from the case despite many believing there could be a conflict of interest.
“There are few things more powerful than a district judge in a federal case,” Alan Rozenshtein, a former attorney in the DOJ National Security Division who is now a University of Minnesota law school professor, said to CNN. “She could – if she wanted to – cause huge problems for the prosecution. Would they be existential problems? Probably not.”
Trump is also facing criminal charges in New York related to a 2016 hush money scheme where he was accused of falsifying records. The charges presented in Miami are much more serious and could result in jail time if he is ultimately convicted.
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