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Former President Donald Trump Pleads Not Guilty to 37 Federal Charges for Improper Retention of Classified Records at Mar-a-Lago

Former President Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to 37 federal charges stemming from Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into his alleged improper retention of classified records at Mar-a-Lago in federal court in Miami.[0] Never before in the history of the United States has a former president been confronted with federal criminal charges. He is accused of 37 criminal counts of unauthorized possession of classified material, obstruction of justice and making false statements to law enforcement.[1] Among the charges are 31 counts of willful retention of national defense information—including documents concerning White House intelligence briefings related to various foreign countries; documents concerning military capabilities of a foreign country and the U.S.; a June 2020 document concerning nuclear capabilities of a foreign country; an Oct. 21, 2018, document concerning communications with a leader of a foreign country; an undated document concerning military contingency planning of the U.S.; a document from December 2019 concerning foreign country support of terrorist acts against U.S. interests; an undated document concerning nuclear weaponry of the U.S.; an undated document concerning the timeline and details of an attack in a foreign country; and more.[2]

As the prosecutors accused him of improperly possessing and concealing classified documents, the ex-president listened with a slight frown.[3] Never before has a former president been charged with federal crimes. In the short hearing, Trump remained silent while government lawyers contended that any communication with potential witnesses should be off-limits for the ex-president.[4] After deliberation, attorneys and Federal Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman reached a consensus that it was not permissible for Trump to communicate with witnesses regarding the case.

According to the indictment, Trump has been accused of 31 violations of 18 U.S.C.[5] One count of willful retention of national defense information (793) and another count of conspiracy to obstruct justice (18 U.S.C.) were charged.[6] The act of withholding a document or record is defined under 18 U.S.C. § 1512.[6] The act of dishonestly hiding a document or record is considered corrupt and is punishable under 18 U.S.C. 1512. Concealing a document in a federal investigation (18 U.S.C. §§ 1512) Under section 1519, there is a plan to hide according to 18 U.S.C. Violating section 1001 by providing false statements and misrepresentations, as per 18 U.S.C.[6] Section 1001.[6] Trump is accused of multiple offenses, including 31 instances of intentionally withholding national defense information under the Espionage Act. Additionally, he faces charges of obstructing justice, withholding and corruptly concealing documents during a federal investigation, scheming to hide evidence, and making false statements. The charges stem from allegations that Trump caused his lawyer to falsely certify that all classified documents had been surrendered to federal authorities on June 3.[7]

Trump has consistently denied any misconduct in the matter of classified documents, asserting that he was authorized to transport the documents to Mar-A-Lago according to the Presidential Records Act. Additionally, he declassified a significant portion of the materials.[6] According to experts, Trump's understanding of that legislation is incorrect, and White House materials are legally owned by the National Archives.[6] On Thursday, he called himself an “INNOCENT MAN.”

The Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr.[6] In Miami, the US Courthouse was observed on the morning of Tuesday, June 13, 2023.[8] Dozens of felony charges are being faced by Former President Donald Trump as he appears in federal court for accusations of illegally hoarding classified documents and obstructing the Justice Department's efforts to retrieve them.[8]

After extensive deliberation, the judge decided that the DOJ will create a roster of witnesses that Trump and/or Nauta are prohibited from discussing the case's details with, except through their lawyers.[9] Lead lawyer David Harbach assured the special counsel that the list of witnesses would include only a select few, excluding both known witnesses and those anticipated to testify during the trial.[9] The proceeding was short and cursory, with the exception of deliberation on the possibility of banning Trump from conversing with witnesses. This raised the question of which individuals, with whom he regularly interacts, might be added to the witness roster.[10] The Department of Justice stated that it would furnish names.[10]

The lawyers of Trump could possibly file motions claiming selective prosecution, which may result in a postponement of the trial until after the 2024 election. According to experts, while it is improbable that any of these arguments would completely dismiss the case, they could potentially cause a trial to be postponed as the court would need to consider each concern presented by Mr. Trump's legal team.

Ultimately, Judge Goodman made an effort to appease Mr. Trump, concluding that he would merely be prohibited from discussing the case's factual details with the unidentified witnesses. In case the roster of witnesses he was unable to communicate with appeared difficult to manage, Mr. Goodman expressed that Mr. Trump had the option to challenge it.[3] At first, the judge declared that Mr. Trump would be prohibited from communicating with a group of witnesses that were set to be disclosed by the government prosecution. Even though the list is not finalized, Mr. Trump's legal team contended that numerous possible witnesses are expected to be Mr. Trump's coworkers or staff, thereby making it “impracticable” for him to avoid any contact with them.[2]

Trump stands out from other defendants as the Justice Department has reportedly suggested several remarkably merciful terms for his pretrial release.[11] On June 8, the day of Trump's indictment, there was a government bond recommendation attached to the summons, according to Goodman.[11] According to him, the government suggests that Trump should be set free on a “personal surety bond” with no monetary obligations. To put it differently, the Justice Department desires to release Trump without the need for bail payment.[11]

0. “Here's what happens next in the Trump classified documents case” NPR, 14 Jun. 2023, https://www.npr.org/2023/06/14/1182182584/trump-documents-case-legal-steps-jack-smith

1. “How Trump's arraignment in Miami federal courthouse will unfold” BBC, 13 Jun. 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-65881780

2. “Trump pleads not guilty to 37 federal felony charges in classified records case” Fox News, 13 Jun. 2023, https://www.foxnews.com/politics/trump-pleads-not-guilty-to-37-federal-felony-charges-out-of-classified-records-probe

3. “Donald Trump stony-faced during federal indictment hearing” BBC, 13 Jun. 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-65898304

4. “Trump speech in NJ decries indictment after return from arraignment” NorthJersey.com, 14 Jun. 2023, https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/politics/2023/06/13/trump-speech-nj-indictment-return-arraignment-fake/70315827007/

5. “All the investigations Trump still faces following his second arrest” The Independent, 14 Jun. 2023, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/trump-investigation-federal-charges-arrest-b2357394.html

6. “What Crimes Was Trump Charged With In Federal Documents Case? Here’s What To Know As He Pleads Not Guilty” Forbes, 13 Jun. 2023, https://www.forbes.com/sites/alisondurkee/2023/06/13/what-crimes-was-trump-charged-with-in-federal-documents-case-heres-what-to-know-as-he-pleads-not-guilty/

7. “Trump raised $2 million hours after arraignment – POLITICO” POLITICO, 14 Jun. 2023, https://www.politico.com/news/2023/06/14/trump-2-million-arraignment-fundraiser-00101931

8. “I was one of the reporters covering Trump's federal arraignment. We left our computers and cell phones behind during the unprecedented news event.” Yahoo! Voices, 14 Jun. 2023, https://www.yahoo.com/news/one-reporters-covering-trumps-federal-004812048.html

9. “What I witnessed during Trump's arraignment in Miami” MSNBC, 13 Jun. 2023, https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/maddowblog/trump-arraignment-inside-courtroom-rcna89158

10. “The Second-Most Important Person at Trump's Trial Wasn't at His Arraignment” The Daily Beast, 14 Jun. 2023, https://www.thedailybeast.com/second-most-important-person-at-trump-trial-wasnt-at-his-arraignment

11. “What Actually Happened at Trump's Arraignment? – Lawfare” Lawfare, 14 Jun. 2023, https://www.lawfareblog.com/what-actually-happened-trumps-arraignment