Former President Trump Pleads Not Guilty to Federal Charges of Illegally Hoarding Classified Documents at Mar-a-Lago Estate
Former President Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to 37 federal charges accusing him of illegally hoarding classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, becoming the first former president in the United States to face federal criminal charges. The charges include unauthorized retention of classified documents and obstruction of justice. According to the indictment, it is claimed that Trump knowingly kept numerous classified documents in his possession that he had brought with him from the White House to Mar-a-Lago upon leaving his presidential position in January 2021. The material he stored, including in a bathroom, ballroom, bedroom, and shower, included information on nuclear programs, defense and weapons capabilities of the US and foreign governments, and a Pentagon “attack plan.” The information, if exposed, could have put members of the military, confidential human sources, and intelligence collection methods at risk, prosecutors said.
During the arraignment in Miami, Trump did not speak a word, and his defense attorney Todd Blanche told the judge, “we most certainly enter a plea of not guilty” to all charges against the former president, signaling that the case will go to trial in a historic moment. Trump's co-defendant in the case, his valet Walt Nauta, was also charged in the indictment. It is alleged that Nauta collaborated with Trump to impede justice by concealing classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, the former president's estate and club, and by providing false information to FBI agents regarding their concealment.
As the court appearance commenced, there was a possibility of protests looming in the background, and a few prominent supporters resorted to using harsh language to express their backing. The planned protest at the courthouse on Tuesday was encouraged by Trump himself, urging his supporters to participate. Even though city officials had anticipated potential unrest near the courthouse, there were minimal indications of any notable disturbance. Signs and props were brought by demonstrators who arrived at 7 a.m. Even Trump supporters donned costumes to demonstrate their support and made arrangements to remain in the vicinity as the ex-president confronts a judge.
Former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, who is running against Trump, said in a Tuesday radio interview she would “be inclined in favor of a pardon,” for the good of the country, but would not presume his guilt. She reiterated her view that Trump was “incredibly reckless with our national security,” if the indictment is true. Trump's lawyer, Alina Habba, appeared before reporters outside the courthouse, telling them that the former president’s charges were “the type of thing you see in dictatorships like Cuba and Venezuela,” where it is “commonplace” for rivals to be put in jail.
Although Trump's defense attorney Chris Kise was the one who spoke the most for the Trump defense team, defense attorney Todd Blanche informed Judge Goodman that they were pleading not guilty. In the New York criminal case, Blanche acted as Trump's representative regarding the purported hush-money payment made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in 2016, for which he was indicted and arraigned earlier this year.
The indictment is the second criminal case filed against Trump, and it marks the latest legal challenge the former president is confronting amid his 2024 campaign for the White House. Trump yielded to authorities in New York at the start of April and presented himself in state court to confront 34 felony charges of manipulating business records in the highest degree. He denied being guilty of the charges.
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