(CTN News) – Donald Trump, the first US president to face a federal criminal indictment, pleaded not guilty to mishandling sensitive files in a federal court in Miami, Florida.
The former president appeared somber and subdued in court, dressed in a dark suit and red tie, with his arms crossed. This marked his second court appearance of the year, but Tuesday’s case carried more serious implications.
Trump’s Court Appearance: Pleads Not Guilty on 37 Counts
Accompanied by his co-defendant, Walt Nauta, a close aide charged with six criminal counts, Trump’s lawyer entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf for the 37 counts, which included illegally retaining classified documents and obstructing government efforts to retrieve them.
Trump refrained from addressing the judge directly but occasionally conferred with his attorneys.
The prosecution team, including special counsel Jack Smith, sat on the opposite side of the room. Despite the charges, the former president, aged 76, was allowed to leave court without travel restrictions as prosecutors deemed him not to be a flight risk. However, he was prohibited from discussing the case with his co-defendant.
Following the hearing, Trump flashed a thumbs-up gesture to his supporters as his motorcade departed from the courthouse.
He made his way to Versailles, a popular Cuban restaurant in Miami’s Little Havana, where he received a warm welcome from crowds of supporters, took photos, and even prayed with some patrons. A “Happy Birthday” chorus further marked the occasion as Trump’s 77th birthday approached.
During the motorcade journey, Trump posted several messages on his Truth Social account, expressing his view that the charges were politically motivated and lamenting what he considered a decline in the nation.
Alina Habba, Trump’s attorney, echoed his claims of political targeting and described the prosecution as a turning point in the nation’s history, reminiscent of actions seen in dictatorships such as Cuba and Venezuela.
Trial Date and Judge: Awaited Decision in South Florida District Court
Before the hearing, court officials announced that Trump would not have a mugshot taken but would undergo digital fingerprinting and provide a DNA sample via a swab. The trial date is yet to be determined, but the case is assigned to Aileen Cannon, a federal district judge in South Florida appointed by Trump.
Despite preparations for possible unrest, small crowds of Donald supporters and counter-protesters gathered outside the court. Mayor Francis Suarez confirmed that there were no security issues during the proceedings.
Trump, who vehemently denies any wrongdoing, is expected to return to his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he plans to address the media.
In conclusion, Trump’s not-guilty plea sets the stage for a high-stakes legal battle as he faces historic charges of mishandling sensitive files.
The former president’s appearance in a Miami federal court marked a significant moment, the first time a sitting or former US president has been hit with a federal criminal indictment.
RELATED CTN NEWS: