WASHINGTON — This will be both routine business for a federal courthouse — and extraordinary one.
Former President Donald Trump is scheduled to appear in a federal courthouse Tuesday afternoon in South Florida on charges related to his handling of government records after leaving office. Federal cases are being impeached every day, but this will be the first in American history against a former president.
For now, many remain uncertain as to how the case will unfold in the coming days.
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One question is what federal authorities will do when Trump visits on Tuesday. A previous indictment of Trump offers some clues: In April, he was arraigned in state court in New York for paying off an adult movie star just before the 2016 election.
Often people arrested before a first appearance may be handcuffed, fingerprinted and photographed for a photo ID. In New York, however, Trump was fingerprinted, but he was not handcuffed or photographed.
At the hearing, Trump, who is used to commanding the room, both as businessman and commander-in-chief, will not be in charge. He will stand quietly next to his lawyer until a judge gives him permission to speak.
Typically, a defendant makes a first appearance in court but says little and does not enter a plea, returning for an arraignment. But Richard Serafini, a former federal prosecutor who now works as a lawyer in Miami, said it’s possible Trump’s legal team and prosecutors could plead on Tuesday, eliminating the need to go back until a detention hearing. .
Even though Trump said the hearing will be at 3 p.m., when most court business is over, Serafini said he expects he will be mobbed.
“It will be an event much like New York,” he said. “Everything will be well choreographed and will happen quickly. It will be planned in advance and the US Marshals will be very careful about who will be allowed into the courthouse.
Another unknown is how the assignment of the case to Judge Aileen M. Cannon, a Trump appointee who has issued a series of rulings unusually favorable to the former president, will play out.
It is still unclear how Cannon received the assignment. Special Counsel Jack Smith could agree to her overseeing the case, or he could take the extraordinary – and risky – step of trying to challenge her role.
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