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Updated Jun 13, 2023, 4:03pm EDT
politicsNorth America

Trump pleads not guilty in classified documents probe

Former U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at Miami International Airport as he is to appear in a federal court.
REUTERS/Marco Bello
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The News

Former President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty to all 37 charges against him in the classified documents case, CNN and ABC News reported. He was under arrest after arriving at a Miami courthouse on Tuesday for his first court appearance in the case.

He is the first former president to face federal criminal charges.

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Know More

It is the second time this year that Trump surrendered in relation to a criminal case. A former Trump aide, Walt Nauta, has also been charged in the case.

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Jack Smith, the special counsel who was appointed to lead the probe, was in the courtroom on Tuesday seated behind two federal prosecutors, both ABC and CNN reported.

Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee who has controversially ruled in his favor in previous legal proceedings, is overseeing the federal indictment.

A federal magistrate judge handled Tuesday’s arraignment and ordered Trump to have no contact about the case with the witnesses. He reportedly did not have to surrender his passport, and the judge placed no limits on Trump’s ability to travel internationally.

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Trump’s motorcade left the courthouse after the hour-long hearing; he is expected to fly to New Jersey where he is set to address his supporters at his Bedminster golf club later Tuesday.

Speaking outside the courthouse Tuesday, Trump attorney and spokesperson Alina Habba issued broad attacks against the Department of Justice and its investigation, claiming the former president is being unfairly targeted by “politically motivated prosecutors who don’t care for impartiality.”

A small group of Trump supporters, many holding signs, waving flags, or wearing costumes, gathered outside the courthouse ahead of the proceedings.

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Step Back

Last week, Trump was indicted in Florida following a months-long investigation into whether he mishandled classified documents after leaving the White House. He is the first former U.S. president to face a federal indictment. He faces 37 charges, including 31 counts of willful retention of national defense information stemming from the Espionage Act.

According to the indictment, Trump allegedly stored several boxes of sensitive documents at unsecured and public locations within his Mar-A-Lago estate in Florida, including a shower and bathroom at the club. Many of these documents contained information relating to nuclear weapon capabilities and military plans in response to a foreign attack.

On at least two occasions, Trump reportedly showed some of these documents to people who did not have proper clearance, with Trump admitting that he had not declassified the files. His former attorneys also allege that he had pushed for some of those documents to be concealed or destroyed after they were subpoenaed by a grand jury.

If Trump is convicted and handed the maximum penalty for each count in the indictment, he faces up to 400 years in prison and a more than $9 million fine, but legal experts say this is extremely unlikely.

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