What to expect when Trump is indicted in the documents case on Tuesday

WASHINGTON — The eyes of the political world will turn to the Miami Federal Courthouse on Tuesday when former President Donald Trump is expected to make his first court appearance on charges of illegally retaining national security documents after leaving his duties, obstructing efforts to recover them and making false statements.

The extraordinary event will be the former president’s second court appearance as a defendant, following his arraignment in April at a New York courthouse for falsifying business documents as part of a payment silent to a porn star just before the 2016 election.

Authorities in Miami are bracing for protests from Trump supporters and opponents. Some of his supporters described the indictment, in an investigation led by semi-independent special counsel Jack Smith, as an act of war and called for retaliation.

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During Trump’s arraignment in New York in April, however, crowds of rival protesters outside the courthouse were loud but peaceful.

Trump said the hearing will be at 3 p.m. His team has discussed security arrangements and procedures for the event with authorities, and it is not yet clear how certain details will be handled.

Defendants who are taken into custody before a first court appearance are often handcuffed, fingerprinted and photographed for a photo ID. In April, however, New York authorities only fingerprinted Trump and did not handcuff or photograph him.

It is also not yet clear which judge will oversee the hearing.

The Trump case was assigned to Judge Aileen Cannon, who previously handled a lawsuit he filed challenging the FBI court-authorized search of his Florida estate and club, Mar-a-Lago. . That search took place in August, after Trump failed to fully cooperate with a subpoena requiring him to turn over any documents with classification marks he still had.

Cannon was nominated by Trump days after losing the November 2020 election. She surprised legal experts on the other side of the ideological divide last year by intervening with various rulings favorable to Trump, disrupting the investigation into the documents until a conservative appeals court reprimanded her, saying she never had judicial power to intervene. His assignment to the criminal case was random, the chief clerk for the Southern District of Florida said.

Trump never appeared before Cannon in the previous trial, so if she attends Tuesday’s hearing, it would put them face to face. But these hearings are often supervised by an investigating judge. On Tuesday, it could be the magistrate who works with Cannon, Bruce Reinhart — who signed the search warrant for Mar-a-Lago — or it could be any magistrate on duty at the Miami courthouse.

During the hearing, Trump is likely to stand quietly next to his lawyer until the judge gives him permission to speak. It’s also not yet clear whether Trump will return later for an impeachment or enter his scheduled not guilty plea on Tuesday to eliminate the need to return for that step.

While searching Mar-a-Lago, officers found 102 documents marked as classified. Smith charged Trump with 37 counts of unauthorized withholding of national security information based on 36 of those documents, as well as one that officers found was unmarked and established some ” military contingency plans”.

The indictment also details a range of evidence supporting prosecutors’ charges that Trump knew he still had classified documents; took steps with his co-defendant, Walt Nauta, to keep them out of the government even after being subpoenaed; and tricked one of his attorneys into unknowingly lying to the Justice Department about it.

On Fox News on Sunday, William Barr, Trump’s former attorney general who has fallen out of favor with Trump since refusing to falsely say the 2020 election was stolen, said Trump was “not not a victim here”. Barr added that Trump appeared to have engaged in “flagrant obstruction” to keep highly sensitive documents he was not permitted to keep.

Referring to the assessment of another conservative legal commentator, Andy McCarthy, Barr also said: ‘If even half of this is true, it’s toast. I mean, it’s a very detailed indictment, and it’s very, very damning.

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