Trump placed under arrest as trial over secret files begins in US court

Former President Donald Trump was placed under arrest for the second time in two months as he arrived at a heavily fortified Miami courthouse on Tuesday afternoon to face his first federal indictment.


He was arraigned shortly after 3 p.m. and his lawyer, Todd Blanche, entered a not guilty plea on his behalf to a 37-count indictment related to his alleged willful mishandling of classified documents. Just two months ago, he pleaded not guilty to state charges in New York stemming from an alleged hush-money payment to a porn star.


Trump flew to Miami from his New Jersey golf club on Monday afternoon, and then was driven to the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. U.S. Courthouse from his golf club in Doral, a 12-mile drive across town. His motorcade arrived shortly before 2 p.m. and headed to an underground garage.


Trump and his co-defendant, former Diet Coke valet-turned-personal aide Walt Nauta, were booked by the U.S. Marshals Service upon their arrival. The pair then entered then courtroom for arraignment a few minutes before 3 p.m. Special Counsel Jack Smith, who is overseeing the case, was in attendance, according to CNN.


Trump had his arms folded and wore his trademark frown for most of the brief hearing. He largely “looked down at the floor,” Olivia Rubin of ABC News said. Trump also appeared “frustrated throughout,” according to The Guardian’s Hugo Lowell.


Trump looked frustrated throughout his arraignment. He folded his arms and re-folded his arms throughout, with a constant frown on his face. Todd Blanche, his lead counsel who appeared with Chris Kise, objected to the bond condition.


— Hugo Lowell (@hugolowell) June 13, 2023


U.S. Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman released Trump and Nauta on their own recognizance, and did not impose travel restrictions on either of them. However, Goodman ordered Trump not to contact any witnesses in the case, and not to discuss the case at all with Nauta—who continues to work as Trump’s aide. (Nauta entered a plea of not guilty but was not arraigned because he did not have a local lawyer to represent him. He will be back in court on June 27 to complete the process.)


Trump did not have his mug shot taken, Trump attorney and spokeswoman Alina Habba said outside the courthouse. Instead, authorities planned to use a “previously taken photo,” CBS News reported. Trump was also not expected to be handcuffed or made to empty his pockets, according to sources cited by ABC News. He was likely to be electronically fingerprinted in an underground garage out of the public view, Miami Herald federal court reporter Jay Weaver told NPR. When Trump faced an indictment in New York in April, he was not photographed.


Trump had left the courthouse by 4 p.m., and was scheduled to fly back to his New Jersey country club for a public appearance on Tuesday night.


However, his first stop after being arraigned was to press the flesh at Versailles, a venerable Cuban restaurant in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami. He was greeted there by a group of supporters that included a rabbi and a nondenominational minister who prayed for the beleaguered ex-president.


“Food for everyone!” Trump called out during his brief stay, before bellyaching about things being “rigged” against him, describing America as “in decline like never before,” and heading off.


As Maggie Haberman of The New York Times reported, his visit to the eatery followed a Monday appearance on a conservative Spanish-language radio show, in which he called in and complained that his indictment was similar to the corrupt workings of certain Latin American legal systems.


The former president had called on supporters to protest outside the courthouse on Tuesday, and authorities were on standby in case any of the pro-Trump rallies, including one purportedly organized by a local chapter of the Proud Boys, turned ugly. However, the turnout was lower than Trump had apparently hoped, having claimed to be expecting some 50,000 people.


Among the few hundred Trump loyalists on hand, Osmany Estrada, 40, stood draped in a Cuban and American flag with a pig’s head on a pike. He told The Daily Beast the severed head didn’t represent anything specific, but that he was simply making a “bold” statement.


While Trump was inside, Habba, a Trumpworld “celeb” whose practice is located in Bedminster, New Jersey, where Trump summers, gave an impromptu press conference to an audience of TV news crews. Prosecuting Trump was a political act, Habba claimed, disingenuously, before likening it—equally falsely—to “the type of thing you see in dictatorships like Cuba and Venezuela.”


“What is being done to the President Trump should terrify all citizens of our country,” Habba insisted, adding, “The people in charge of this country do not love America. They hate Donald Trump.”


As the day wore on, the heat started to take its toll. Many older Trump fans, who made up the bulk of the crowd earlier on, began to tap out as temperatures approached 90 degrees.


At one point before Trump arrived, cops cleared the area after getting word of a suspicious package on the courthouse grounds. It turned out to be a TV, reportedly planted by a man in a Trump hat, with the words “FUCK THE COMMUNIST CONTROLLED NEWS MEDIA” printed across the screen.


When the coterie of motorcycle cops accompanying Trump’s motorcade began preparing for the ex-president’s departure, a clutch of MAGA-ites began chanting, “U-S-A! U-S-A!”


Trump’s wife, former first lady Melania Trump, was notably absent on Tuesday, reportedly opting for a visit to the dentist instead.


Trump is accused of, among other offenses, violating the Espionage Act by refusing to hand over national security secrets he took to his Mar-a-Lago resort after he left office. Documents were stashed in storage rooms, a bathroom, Trump’s bedroom, and a ballroom accessible by visitors and staff, the feds say. After a subpoena was issued for the return of any classified material, Trump suggested his lawyers ignore it or just say “we don’t have anything here,” the indictment alleges.


Nauta is accused of moving boxes of documents around Mar-a-Lago after a subpoena was issued for the return of all classified materials, then lying to investigators.


(News Express/Yahoo News)


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