Trump faces 37 counts related to the mishandling of classified documents, including 31 counts under an Espionage Act statute pertaining to the wilful retention of national defence information. The charges also include counts of obstructing justice and making false statements, among other crimes.
It was the former president’s second arraignment as he battles a deluge of legal threats, coming just ten weeks after he was charged with a string of felonies in Manhattan over hush money payments to a porn star.
Trump appeared before a judge, Jonathan Goodman, in Miami to be formally presented with 37 charges brought by the government following a special counsel probe that opened after an FBI raid of his Florida mansion in August 2022. “We are certainly entering a plea of not guilty,” his attorney, Todd Blanche, told the judge.
Trump’s aide and co-defendant, Walt Nauta, was also arrested, fingerprinted, and processed. He had an initial appearance Tuesday but will not be arraigned until June 27.
Goodman ruled that Trump could not communicate with Nauta about the case. The judge 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. The Justice Department recommended that both Trump and Nauta be released with no financial or special conditions. Prosecutor David Harbach said: “The government does not view either defendant as a flight risk.”
Goodman began the hearing thanking “the entire law enforcement community” for their work on Tuesday. Before the arraignment hearing, deputy marshals booked the former president and took electronic copies of his fingerprints.
They did not take a mugshot of Trump since he is easily recognizable. The booking process took about 10 minutes. Trump is accused of keeping documents related to “nuclear weaponry in the United States” and the “nuclear capabilities of a foreign country”, along with documents from White House intelligence briefings, including some that detail the military capabilities of the U.S. and other countries, according to the indictment. The 49-page indictment alleges that Trump showed some of the documents to people who did not have security clearances to review them. He later tried to conceal documents from his own lawyers as they sought to comply with federal demands to find and return documents. The top charges carry penalties of up to 20 years in prison.