Trump visited a historic Miami courthouse on charges of hoarding classified documents

MIAMI (AP) — Former President Donald Trump has arrived at a federal court in Miami to formally surrender to authorities ahead of his appearance on charges of illegally storing classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

Trump’s motorcade arrived at the federal courthouse Tuesday afternoon shortly before he was scheduled to appear before a magistrate judge, a shocking moment in U.S. history as he became the first former president to be charged with federal crimes.

This is the second criminal case Trump faces as he tries to reclaim the White House in 2024. He was charged in New York state court with falsifying business records related to hush-money made during the 2016 campaign.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing, saying he is being unfairly targeted by political opponents seeking to hurt his campaign. After the court appearance, Trump will return to New Jersey, where he is expected to hold a press event to publicly respond to the allegations.

This is a breaking news update. AP’s previous story is below.

MIAMI (AP) — Donald Trump Tuesday is expected to be the first former president to face a judge on federal charges as the city of Miami prepares for possible protests by crowds that officials said could number in the thousands.

Security outside the federal courthouse was tight ahead of Trump’s history-making court appearance, but there were no major disruptions as the morning unfolded.

Trump has approached his case with particular bravado, insisting for years that he has done nothing wrong and is being persecuted for political purposes. But as he responded to 37 offences, the gravity of the moment was unmistakable He is accused of deliberately withholding classified records that prosecutors say would endanger national security if exposed, then trying to hide them from investigators who demand their return.

The case has political implications for Trump, who now dominates the early days of the 2024 Republican presidential race. But it also carries profound legal consequences in terms of the possibility of years in prison. Even for a defendant whose post-presidential career has been dominated by investigations, the dossier investigation stands out for both the sheer volume of evidence amassed by prosecutors and the seriousness of the allegations.

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It’s an important moment for the Justice Department, which until last week had not brought charges against the former president. Attorney General Merrick GarlandPresident Joe Biden’s appointee sought to insulate the department from political attacks last year by handing ownership of the case to special counsel Jack Smith.He announced Friday, “We have a set of laws in this country that apply to everyone.”

The investigation, though largely procedural in nature, is the latest in an unprecedented public reckoning this year for Trump, who faces charges in New York. The payments stem from payments made during his 2016 presidential campaign and ongoing investigations in Washington and Atlanta Attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 race. Attacking Smith as “a Trump hater” and vowing to stay in the race, he plans a speech and fundraiser at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club on Tuesday night.

“They’re using it because they can’t win an election in a fair and honest way,” Trump said in an interview with Americano Media on Monday.

The court’s visit also unfolds against the backdrop of possible protests. Some high-profile supporters have used barbed wire rhetoric to voice support. Trump encouraged supporters to join a protest planned for Tuesday at a Miami courthouse, where he is expected to surrender to authorities.

Trump is not expected to undergo a mask, according to a person familiar with the situation. Typically, law enforcement agencies such as the FBI and the US Marshals Service take a booking photo as part of the arrest process and the photo is uploaded to a shared law enforcement database.

Some Trump supporters also planned to board buses from other parts of Florida to Miami, raising concerns for law enforcement officials who are bracing for unrest around the courthouse. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said the city would be prepared, and Police Chief Manuel A. Morales said.

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Among those arriving early Tuesday morning were father-son duo Florencio and Kevin Rodriguez, who came to the United States fifteen years ago as asylum seekers fleeing a dictatorship in Cuba.

The younger Rodriguez, who wore a shirt that read “Jesus is my savior, Trump is my president,” said Kevin that Trump might be guilty of illegally possessing classified documents. But he questioned the legitimacy of the actions in light of other classified intelligence investigations involving former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Democrats, including President Joe Biden.

Clinton was not charged for sending classified information on a private email server after FBI investigators decided she did not intend to break the law. The Biden investigation remains open, but no evidence has emerged that he acted intentionally — a key claim in the Trump impeachment.

“We will never abandon those who love this country and our freedom,” Rodriguez added, highlighting Trump’s staunch opposition to Cuba’s communist government.

The crowd included far-right internet personality Anthime Gionet, who served a two-month prison sentence for streaming live video of the attack on the US Capitol. Gionet is known as “Fast Alaska”. A live video of Trump chatting with others as he waited for him to arrive.

Unlike the New York case, where photographers produced images of Trump at the courtroom defense table, public viewing will be limited. Cameras are not generally allowed in federal courthouses, and a judge on Monday night banned reporters from having phones inside the building.

A federal grand jury in Washington The documents took months of testimony in the case, but the Justice Department filed it in Florida, where Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort is located and where many of the illegal activities took place. Although Trump is scheduled to appear before a federal magistrate on Tuesday, the case has been assigned to his appointee, District Court Judge Eileen Cannon., ruled in his favor last year in a dispute over whether to appoint an outside special master to review seized classified documents. A federal appeals panel eventually overturned her judgment.

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It’s unclear what defenses Trump will cite as the case moves forward. Two of his leading lawyers will resign in the morning after filing the charge sheet against him, another lawyer, M. They also announced Evan Corcoran’s Notes and Reminiscences.Quoted repeatedly throughout the 49-page charging document, prosecutors consider him a key witness.

Trump has said he wants to add to his legal team, though no announcement was made Monday. He was expected to be represented by attorney Todd Blanch, who is defending him in the New York case, and Florida attorney Chris Kiss, who joined Trump’s regular lawyers last year. According to county rules, accused persons must have a local attorney to prosecute.

The Justice Department released a 37-count indictment against Trump on Friday. Other charges include conspiracy to defraud and false statements.

The indictment alleges that Trump knowingly withheld hundreds of classified documents He took it with him from the White House to Mar-a-Lago after he left the presidency in January 2021. Items he stored in the bathroom, ballroom, bedroom and bathroom included nuclear programs, security and weapons capabilities. The indictment alleges that US and foreign governments and the Pentagon “planned the attack.” Prosecutors said the information, if exposed, could have jeopardized members of the military, confidential human resources and intelligence-gathering systems.

Beyond that, prosecutors say, he tried to thwart government efforts to retrieve the documents, suggesting to his own attorney — Walt Nauta — who was charged with Trump’s personal aide — to move boxes to hide them, and to hide or destroy the documents. Requested by judicial subpoena.

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Tucker reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Jill Colvin in New York, Adriana Gomez Lycon in Miami and Terry Spencer in Doral, Florida contributed to this report.

Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP

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Investigations on Donald Trump: https://apnews.com/hub/donald-trump

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