Former President of the United States, Donald Trump was on Tuesday arrested and arraigned at a federal courthouse in Miami, Florida on 37 charges related to his alleged mishandling of classified documents.
Attorneys Todd Blanche and Chris Kise represented Trump in court for the arraignment with Blanche informing the judge that his client is asking for a jury trial as he is entering a plea of not guilty to all the charges.
Trump faces 37 felony counts, alleging he illegally retained national defence information and that he concealed documents in violation of witness-tampering laws in the Justice Department’s probe into the materials.
Trump, who wore a scowl on his face and hunched over with his arms crossed during the proceedings, e did not speak throughout the 45-minute proceedings.
Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman ruled that Trump could not communicate with Walt Nauta, his aide and co-defendant, about the case. Goodman also told prosecutors to make a list of potential witnesses that Trump can’t communicate with about the case – except through counsel.
The judge did not, however, place any travel restrictions on either defendant as the Justice Department recommended that both Trump and Nauta be released with no financial or special conditions. Prosecutor David Harbach said that “the government does not view either defendant as a flight risk.”
Before the arraignment hearing, deputy marshals booked Trump and took electronic copies of his fingerprints. His co-defendant, Nauta, was also arrested, fingerprinted and processed but will not be arraigned until June 27.
Experts expect that the trial will likely be a long, dramatic one with the trial and appeal proceedings going on for years. This, they say, might affect Trump’s participation and performance in the Republican Party’s Presidential primaries.
A Trump attorney, Alina Habba, who spoke outside the courthouse ahead of the arraignment, said that the former president was “defiant”, and decried what she called a “two-tiered system of justice” and called the indictment an “unapologetic weaponization of the criminal justice system.”
On his part, Trump posted on his social media accounts before heading to court writing that it was “ONE OF THE SADDEST DAYS IN THE HISTORY OF OUR COUNTRY. WE ARE A NATION IN DECLINE!!!”
Before last week’s federal indictment, Trump also faced criminal charges brought by New York City’s local prosecutors for an alleged hush money scheme in the 2016 campaign in which Trump is accused of falsifying business records.
The new charges in the Department of Justice documents case are drastically more serious and present the possibility of several years in prison if Trump is ultimately convicted.
US District Judge Aileen Cannon – a Trump nominee whose decision last year to order a third-party review of an FBI search of Mar-a-Lago was widely criticized and overturned by a conservative appeals court – has been assigned the case.