Donald Trump became the first ex-President of the United States to appear in federal court yesterday to face an indictment. The Republican presidential candidate had to appear in person before the court in Miami, Florida, where he was officially opened up about the allegations in the affair of classified government documents.
As expected, Trump pleaded "not guilty". However, he did not express himself in court, but let one of his lawyers speak, as a reporter from the German Press Agency reported from the courthouse.
The allegations against Trump
In August, the Federal Police FBI searched Trump's private home Mar-a-Lago in Florida and confiscated numerous classified documents from his tenure, some with the highest classification level. Mar-a-Lago is also a club with rooms for paying guests and public events. By storing confidential government documents in private rooms after his term in office, Trump could have made himself liable to prosecution.
He is accused of conspiring to obstruct investigations and illegally storing highly sensitive information. According to the indictment, these included details of the nuclear capabilities of the United States and other countries, military weaknesses in the defenses of the United States and its partners, and information about potential military action.
The indictment charges Trump with seven categories of misdemeanor and a total of 37 felonies. The details in the 49-page paper are explosive. For example, it states that Trump kept boxes of classified information in his bedroom, a bathroom, a shower, a ballroom and a storage room. Some boxes would have stood temporarily in a room where public events were taking place. A storage room was easily accessible via a public pool area.
In the indictment, the investigators detail how Trump spoke to other people about classified information or showed it to unauthorized third parties, based on audio recordings, among other things.
Trump vehemently rejects all allegations and sees the charges as a politically motivated attempt by the Democrats to keep him from a second term in the White House. He speaks of "political contract killing" and "waging war" with legal means.
Appearance in court
Republican supporters gathered outside the courthouse to protest the indictment. They cheered the ex-president on his arrival and departure. Radical supporters of Trump had previously adopted martial tones, sparking fears of possible violence surrounding Trump's court appearance. However, there were no major incidents.
The court proceedings took place behind closed doors. Trump first had to give fingerprints, as a court official explained when asked. However, no police photo was taken of him, unlike what is usual for suspects at such appointments. As expected, the ex-president was not handcuffed.
Cameras were also not allowed in the courtroom, and electronic devices were banned throughout the building. As a result, some of the details of the meeting only became public with a slight delay. As the dpa reporter from the court reported, the judge instructed the prosecutor to create a list of potential witnesses with whom Trump was not allowed to communicate about the case. Trump's assistant Walt Nauta, who was also charged in the case, must also be on this list. Trump is only allowed to discuss the allegations with Nauta and the witnesses on the list through a lawyer.
The Trump Show After
After the session, Trump was allowed to leave the court. The Republican drove his motorcade out of the building's underground parking lot and shortly afterwards stopped at a restaurant, where he was celebrated by supporters. In the bar in the Little Havana district of Miami, supporters took photos with Trump and applauded. The ex-president waved and shouted "food for all". He then flew from Florida to New Jersey, where he would later speak to supporters at his golf club in Bedminster.
The Republican officially announced in November that he would run again in the 2024 presidential election. According to polls, he is clearly ahead in the field of Republican presidential candidates. President Joe Biden is running for a second term for the Democrats.
Trump had already been charged at the state level in New York in April in connection with hush money payments to a porn star - this was the first charge against an ex-US president ever. In New York, too, the authorities refrained from handcuffs and a police photo of Trump. With the documents affair, the first federal charges against a former US President followed within a few weeks. Other cases against Trump are also under investigation. So far, the allegations in connection with the secret government documents have weighed the most heavily from a legal point of view.