Donald Trump was scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday to answer to dozens of felony allegations of mishandling US national secrets, the most serious of a flurry of criminal investigations that threaten to thwart his campaign to retake the White House.
The former president is anticipated to deny 37 counts of illegally holding onto confidential information and impeding the government’s efforts to recover them during a 25-minute motorcade ride from his golf property in Miami to the city’s federal courthouse.
Since the day before the hearing, devoted followers of the Republican leader have been in the streets. Security has been stepped up outside the courthouse as police prepare for massive protests and perhaps violence.
“There’s nothing like it, ever. After landing in Miami on Monday, Trump told a local radio station that a witch hunt like this had never occurred.
When you consider what they’ve done and the heinous crimes they’ve perpetrated, you can understand why they would pursue me.
The brazen billionaire, who will turn 77 on Wednesday, is accused of taking dozens of clearly marked government secrets illegally to his Florida beachfront mansion after leaving office in 2021, willfully hoarding them there, refusing to give them back, and collaborating with others to obstruct investigators trying to retrieve them.
In a considerably more serious case than any he has previously faced, he is also accused of sharing vital US secrets with others who lacked security clearance. If found guilty, he may face lengthy prison terms.
Call for Peace
Early on Tuesday, a small group of Trump backers gathered in front of the courthouse where Trump is scheduled to be processed at 3 o’clock (1900 GMT); some were wearing red “Make America Great Again” caps.
“I’m here simply to protest Donald J. Trump’s wrongful indictment. Lazaro Ezenar, 48, said to AFP, “I can’t believe he’s going through this again. This is the first time a former US president has been charged with a crime in relation to hush money.
This is historic, and I’m absolutely astounded that as a nation that serves as a light to the globe, I must watch this program that denigrates what America stands for.
No matter how the litigation involving the documents turns out, the undisputed front-runner in the Republican primary for 2024 has vowed to continue running.
The 49-page indictment, which Trump called “ridiculous,” has images of boxes of papers stacked in a ballroom, a bathroom, and a shower at Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach home.
After the hearing on Tuesday, Trump is anticipated to take a flight to his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he will address his fans and reaffirm his innocence.
His legal troubles are only just getting started because he is accused of several felonies in the porn star Stormy Daniels’ New York fraud case, which is scheduled for trial in March.
State and federal authorities are closely examining Trump’s attempts to rig the 2020 election, and Jack Smith, the special counsel overseeing the investigation into the papers, is also probing into his participation in the 2021 riot at the US Capitol.
Eye for an Eye
Following his most recent indictment, Trump’s congressional allies and rivals for the presidential nomination have mostly closed ranks, denouncing the “weaponization” of the government against conservatives.
Republican politicians have come under fire for using language that could incite violence, including Andy Biggs of Arizona, who tweeted, “We have entered a war phase. “Eye for an eye.”
Authorities have not ruled out finishing a trial before the 2024 election. The Southern District of Florida is renowned as a “rocket docket” court, a legal term for areas that seek for quick justice.
District Court Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointment who was assigned the case at random and will have significant influence over how quickly things go, will be the subject of much of the attention at the preliminary sessions.
Tuesday’s hearing will be presided over by a different judge.