FORMER US PRESIDENT Donald Trump made history yet again on Tuesday, when he was arraigned at a Federal courthouse in Miami. Trump was the first United States president in history to face criminal charges when he fronted a Manhattan court earlier this year. Now, in a separate case, he becomes the first president to be accused of federal crimes.
An indictment unsealed last Friday alleges that Trump, along with the help of his long-time bodyman Waltine “Walt” Nauta, defied a subpoena to return classified documents, which were kept and hidden in his Florida home. Per The Washington Post, in the forthcoming trial, prosecutors will allege he risked a national security risk by storing highly sensitive documents in his Mar-a-Lago residence, including in his bathroom, months after leaving the White House.
Trump was charged with a total of 37 counts, including wilful retention of national defence information under the Espionage Act, conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding a document or record, corruptly concealing a document or record, and scheming to conceal. If found guilty, he faces the possibility of years in prison.
“We most certainly enter a plea of not guilty,” Trump’s lawyer Todd Blanche reportedly told the courtroom at the arraignment.
This arraignment is only the latest in a string of allegations the former president has faced this year. On March 30, a Manhattan grand jury voted to indict him on criminal charges relating to the alleged falsification of business records in connection to an alleged hush money scheme. He pleaded not guilty to 34 counts.
Then on May 9, a New York jury found Trump sexually assaulted and defamed writer E Jean Carroll. A day later, Trump reportedly claimed to CNN that Carroll had “made up” the story and called the former Elle columnist a “whack job.” On June 13 — the same day the former president faced court in Miami — a federal judge said Carrol could pursue a US$10m defamation case against him.
Can Donald Trump still run for president?
Trump is currently in the midst of a campaign for the 2024 presidential candidacy, having formally announced his bid for the White House on November 15 last year. His strongest competition for the Republican nomination is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
Whether the allegations against Trump will influence the likelihood of his election remain to be seen. Throughout this week’s happenings, many of his loyal followers — both public servants and civilians alike — have shown their continued support.
The Washington Post reports that when the 45th US president arrived at the Miami federal courthouse on Tuesday, a crowd, predominantly Trump supporters, had gathered, “waving flags and chanting.”
Additionally, Rep. Bryon Donalds — the U.S. representative for Florida’s 19th congressional district — voiced his thoughts during an appearance on CNN earlier this week.
“There are 33 bathrooms at Mar-a-Lago. So don’t act like it’s just in some random bathroom that the guests can go into,” Donalds said. “That’s not true… You can’t just walk through Mar-a-Lago on your own accord because Secret Service is all over the place.”
Wisconsin Republican Rep. Derrick Van Orden also spoke out, Tweeting, “Just checking: Clinton had 1000’s of classified emails that she deleted and then scrubbed the hard drives – Nothing … Biden had classified docs in 3 locations – Nothing … President Trump has docs & declassification authority – Indicted … I call bullshit.”
In a legal sense, Trump can still run. There are no constitutional restrictions that prevent anyone with criminal indictments or convictions from running for or becoming president. The implications of his winning are far less clear.