Trump to appear in court in classified documents case | Live updates
MIAMI (AP) — Follow along for live updates on former President Donald Trump, who is set to make his first court appearance Tuesday after being indicted on 37 charges related to the mishandling classified documents. The indictment marks the first time in U.S. history that a former president faces criminal charges by the federal government he once oversaw.
DEMONSTRATORS FOR AND AGAINST TRUMP SQUABBLING
A small group of pro-Trump supporters and anti-Trump protesters were squabbling in front of Miami’s federal courthouse as they awaited the former president’s appearance Tuesday.
A man with “Trump sucks” spray-painted on his jacket and pants shouted at supporters of the former president as they passed by while a man held a homemade “Free Trump” banner behind others who shouted at him. Dozens of supporters wrapped themselves in Trump flags or campaign merchandise as they milled about near the courthouse.
The crowd included far-right internet personality Anthime Gionet, who served a two-month prison sentence for streaming live video while he stormed the U.S. Capitol with a mob of Trump supporters on Jan. 6, 2021.
Gionet, better known as “Baked Alaska,” was livestreaming video of his interactions with people around the courthouse — something the terms of Gionet’s probation don’t appear to prohibit.
Meanwhile, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, wearing a T-shirt with a police logo, toured the nearby media encampment and said he didn’t expect any disturbances.
“So far, so good,” Suarez said. “It’s still early, but the crowd seems to be under control and everyone respectful and peaceful. Let’s hope it remains that way.”
Suarez is considering a presidential run and has suggested he could make his intentions known during a speech Thursday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California.
What to know:
— What to expect when Trump appears in federal court to face charges
— Journalists so far outnumber protesters outside courthouse where Trump will appear
— A timeline of events leading to Trump’s indictment in the classified documents case
— Trump’s GOP defenders in Congress leap into action after months of preparation
— Who is Walt Nauta, the latest Trump loyalist to face potential jail time?
TRUMP SUPPORTERS BUSED IN FROM OTHER PARTS OF FLORIDA
In an Orlando Walmart parking lot, about four dozen Trump supporters dressed in red, white and blue clothing boarded two buses for the four-hour trip to Miami to show their support outside the federal courthouse where the former president would be appearing.
Some wore T-shirts that read “Donald Trump Did Nothing Wrong” and hats stenciled with “Because America Can Never Be Too Great.”
“He has done so much for us. This what we can do for him. This is what we must do for him,” said Laurie Pettengill, who drove halfway across the state from Homosassa Springs on Florida’s Gulf Coast to go on the trip.
Miriam Ramirez carried a sign adorned with small American flags that said, “Puerto Republican Assembly Present for Trump!” She said the federal charges were a continuation of prosecutorial harassment that Trump has faced for years.
“This has been going on ever since he became president,” Ramirez said.
The trip was organized a grassroots group called the Florida Republican Assembly, which had originally envisioned four buses making the journey but settled for just two.
As the Trump supporters boarded the buses, a lone woman, Danette Chialtas, shouted at them, calling them traitors for supporting Trump.
“He’s being tried on espionage charges, and they are enabling it,” Chialtas said, pointing to the buses.
TRUMP TO BE DIGITALLY FINGERPRINTED
Trump will be digitally fingerprinted and have his birthdate and Social Security number taken as part of the booking process Tuesday at the federal courthouse in Miami, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service says.
The spokesman said the former president will forgo a mugshot because enough photos of him already exist in the system — confirming what a person familiar with negotiations around the proceedings said earlier.
The spokesman said that booking could take place before Trump appears in court or afterward, depending on when he arrives. He said authorities did not plan to immediately alert the media once Trump had arrived.
Outside the courthouse, meanwhile, police cleared an area where media covering the event had set up tents. They brought in sniffer dogs to search for anything suspicious but planned to allow journalists back into the area once the search was complete.
2024 CAMPAIGN TRAIL MOSTLY QUIET AS ATTENTION SHIFTS (BACK) TO TRUMP
Trump’s 2024 Republican presidential rivals were largely refraining from public campaign events as the political world’s attention shifted to the former president’s appearance in federal court in Miami.
Speaking Tuesday morning outside the courthouse where Trump will be arraigned, Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy reiterated his commitment to pardoning Trump if elected to the White House. The wealthy biotech entrepreneur also announced that he’d given every 2024 presidential challenger signed commitment letters asking them to join him in the pledge.
Other Republican presidential hopefuls, including Trump’s former ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, planned fundraisers and media appearances while forgoing campaign events. South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott was heading to Iowa for a town hall event later in the week but had no public events scheduled for Tuesday.
Trump is the Republican White House primary’s early front-runner. When he appeared in court in April on a separate criminal case involving alleged hush money payments, the attention was intense, dominating media coverage for days.
NO TRUMP MUGSHOT EXPECTED
Trump is not expected to have a mugshot taken when he surrenders to authorities in federal court in Miami to face charges related to mishandling classified documents.
That’s according to a person familiar with negotiations surrounding the case who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the details of the proceedings.
Having no picture taken is similar to Trump’s recent appearance in court in New York on a separate case involving hush money payments, when the former president also avoided having his mug shot taken.
— Jill Colvin
MEDIA OUTNUMBERS TRUMP SUPPORTERS OUTSIDE COURTHOUSE
Security was tight outside the Wilkie D. Ferguson federal courthouse Tuesday ahead of the former president’s court appearance.
But Trump supporters were noticeably few hours before the appearance — far outnumbered by the hundreds of journalists from the U.S. and around the world who have converged on downtown Miami for the historic occasion.
That recalled the scene in New York, where Trump was arraigned in April on a separate criminal case involving hush money he’s accused of paying during the 2016 presidential campaign. Then, there were far more reporters than demonstrators for and against the former president.
Among those who arrived early Tuesday in Miami were father and son Florencio and Kevin Rodriguez, who came to the U.S. 15 years ago as asylum seekers fleeing Cuba. Wearing a shirt bearing the slogan “Jesus is my savior, Trump my president,” the younger Rodriguez, Kevin, said it is possible that Trump is guilty of illegally retaining classified documents.
But he questioned the fairness of the proceedings in light of what he said was prosecutors’ lax attitude toward President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. They’ve both been accused of mishandling classified intelligence and not appeared in court, though they also have not faced accusations of intentionally hiding their actions, like Trump has.
“Even if he’s guilty, we will still support him,” Rodriguez said, noting the Trump administration’s staunch opposition to Cuba’s government, “We never abandon our amigos — those who love this country and our liberty.”
TRUMP SUPPORTERS, DETRACTORS GATHER OUTSIDE COURTHOUSE
Trump wasn’t due in court in Miami for hours, but both his supporters and detractors were already gathering outside.
Jack Kaplan said he drove two hours from Fort Pierce, where the judge assigned to the case is based, to counter the large number of Trump supporters who had already started showing up outside the federal courthouse in Miami.
Toting a copy of the indictment affixed to a clipboard and a sign reading “Trump is Toast,” the 68-year-old retired car dealer said he’ll celebrate with a $1,400 bottle of Mouton Rothschild red wine if the former president goes to prison.
“I’ve already get the bottle sitting in my wine cooler,” said Kaplan as a Trump supporter carrying a sign reading “Keep America Great” walked by coolly. “I’m going to have a big party.”
TRUMP TO APPEAR IN COURT
Trump will make his first court appearance to answer for a federal indictment involving 37 felony counts related to hoarding top secret government documents, boastfully displaying them to visitors and trying to hide them from investigators who demanded them back.
The former president will be arraigned in federal court in Miami, allowing him to hear prosecutors’ charges that he jeopardized national security by mishandling classified information.
The case against him is historic but doesn’t prohibit Trump from a third run at the presidency, and he urged his supporters to rally outside the courthouse.
Some had already begun to arrive hours before his late afternoon appearance was scheduled to start. Trump also planned to fly to his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, to give remarks this evening.
The former president was arrested and appeared in court in New York in April as part of separate criminal case involving hush money that he is accused of paying to cover up an extramarital affair during the 2016 presidential election. Trump is facing additional potential charges in Georgia and Washington.
But he faces a potential yearslong prison sentence in the document case. It also has stood out for both the apparent volume of evidence amassed by prosecutors and the severity of the allegations.
Trump’s campaign has intensified his fundraising efforts in the meantime, including an email Tuesday morning with the subject line: “My last email before my arraignment.”