Trump pleads not guilty to all 37 charges in classified documents case
Updated June 13, 2023 at 4:12 PM ET
Former President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty in a federal courthouse in Miami on Tuesday. In an unprecedented indictment of a former president, Trump faces 37 federal charges, including unlawfully retaining government secrets and conspiring to obstruct justice.
The indictment alleges that Trump was personally involved in packing the documents as he left the White House in 2021, that he bragged about having secret materials and caused his own lawyer to mislead the FBI about what kind of papers he had stored at Mar-a-Lago.
His aide Walt Nauta has also been indicted for concealing documents and for making false statements. Nauta did not entry a plea Tuesday.
Trump says he is innocent and that he's being unfairly targeted by prosecutors because he's running for president again. His Republican allies in Congress are echoing these claims of bias in the Justice Department.
Special counsel Jack Smith, who was appointed by the Justice Department to oversee an independent investigation of Trump, defended the work of his team and the FBI in remarks last week.
"We have one set of laws in this country, and they apply to everyone," he said.
What is happening in court
Trump appeared in court Tuesday for processing. Trump was booked, a procedure that included digital fingerprints. However, he was not in handcuffs, nor was his passport surrendered or travel limits placed on him.
A condition of his release includes no direct communication with any of the witnesses on a list that the government will generate. This is includes no communication with Nauta.
Outside the courtroom, law enforcement had been preparing to ensure events like the assault on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 would not happen again.
The Secret Service, which protects Trump, have been involved in conversations with the U.S. Marshals, who protect the federal courthouse. Local police have also been planning, with additional first responders on standby.
Unlike the leadup to the Capitol riot, though, extremism researchers say they are not seeing signs of large-scale and detailed planning around the courthouse appearance.
Though the crowds of supporters swelled closer to the time of the arraignment, the crowd remained peaceful.
What happens next
Smith said Friday he is seeking a speedy trial. Under the law, that could mean within 70 days, which would be well ahead of the presidential primary season next year.
But there are a few factors that could push the date much further than that.
Given the case involves many classified documents, one question before the court may be whether Trump's lawyers are even authorized to see the material, and whether Trump would want to use the documents in the courtroom.
Trump could also make other pretrial motions contesting various aspects of the case that could add up to months of delays. The legal team could even try to postpone the trial until after the presidential election.
In the meantime, Trump is making the federal indictment a part of his campaign for the White House. He's even planning to talk Tuesday night at a fundraiser at his golf club in New Jersey.
He's said that if he wins in 2024, he would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate President Biden and Biden's family.
A special counsel is currently looking into how Biden himself came to have classified documents in his private office and residence. But in that case, there's no hint Biden is resisting turning over any of the papers, like Trump allegedly did for about a year.
Trump's legal peril does not end with the classified documents case. Special counsel Smith is continuing to investigate Trump's actions around the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, and the Fulton County District Attorney's Office in Georgia is looking into attempts to pressure state officials in the weeks after the 2020 election. It remains to be seen whether Trump will also be charged in those investigations.
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