As the former president prepares for a historic federal court appearance this week on dozens of felony counts accusing him of illegally retaining sensitive material, Donald Trump and his friends are stepping up efforts to undercut the criminal case against him and incite demonstrations.
Trump will appear before a judge in Miami on Tuesday afternoon, which will be his second such hearing in as many months. However, the Justice Department’s first prosecution of a former president involves conduct that prosecutors say jeopardized national security and involves Espionage Act charges carrying the threat of a significant prison sentence in the event of a conviction, in contrast to a New York case that some legal analysts mocked as relatively trivial.
Before his arraignment, Trump escalated his vitriol against Jack Smith, the special counsel for the Justice Department who brought the case, calling him “deranged” and his team of prosecutors “thugs” while repeating his unsupported allegations that he was the victim of political persecution.
He urged his followers to participate in a planned demonstration at the Miami courthouse on Tuesday, when he will be charged.
“We need strength in our country now,” Trump said, speaking to his long-time friend and adviser Roger Stone in an interview on WABC Radio. “And they have to go out and they have to protest peacefully. They have to go out.”
“Look, our country has to protest. We have plenty of protest to protest. We’ve lost everything,” he went on.
Announcing that he will not withdraw from the 2024 contest, where he has so far dominated the Republican primary, he added that there were “no circumstances” “whatsoever” under which he would do so.
The unsuccessful Republican candidate for governor of Arizona, Kari Lake, pointedly stated over the weekend that if prosecutors “want to get to President Trump,” they “are going to have to go through me, and 75 million Americans just like me.” Other Trump supporters have defended him in a similar manner. And the majority of us are active NRA members.
Trump’s calls for protest were similar to those he made before his April court appearance in New York, where he is accused of receiving hush money during his 2016 campaign. However, he lamented that those who showed up to protest back then were “so far away that nobody knew about ’em,” And just like in that instance, he intends to speak to his fans on Tuesday night, hours after his court appearance.
Trump will spend the remainder of the day in Florida with advisers after leaving for Miami on Monday, according to expectations. He will return to New Jersey following his court appearance, where he has set a press conference to address the allegations.
Concerns were raised by Trump supporters who intended to board buses to travel to Miami from various parts of Florida, which worried law enforcement officials who were preparing for possible unrest near the courthouse. Although there were few police officers near the courthouse as late as Sunday afternoon and barricades hadn’t yet been put up nearby, Mayor Francis Suarez was expected to reveal more information about the preparations on Monday. This is in stark contrast to New York City, where police prepared for protests for weeks even though no violence actually broke out.
A 37-count charge against Trump was unsealed by the Justice Department on Friday, 31 of which were related to the deliberate retention of information about national defence. False statements and conspiring to cause obstruction are further allegations.
The indictment claims that after leaving the White House in January 2021, Trump took hundreds of confidential documents with him to his Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago, where he allegedly kept them on purpose. According to the accusation, the data he kept on hand was related to nuclear programs, the military prowess of the United States and other countries, and a Pentagon “attack plan,” among other things.
He kept it in places including a restroom, ballroom, bedroom, and shower. Prosecutors claimed that if the information had been made public, it might have endangered military personnel, secret human sources, and intelligence gathering techniques.
Additionally, according to the prosecution, he attempted to thwart government efforts to retrieve the documents, including by ordering his co-defendant Walt Nauta to move boxes to hide them and advising his own attorney to hide or destroy documents that were the subject of a Justice Department subpoena.
Using the Justice Department’s 2016 decision not to charge Democrat Hillary Clinton for her handling of classified material through a private email server she depended on while secretary of state, some fellow Republicans have attempted to argue that Trump is being unfairly treated. These arguments, however, fail to take into account that FBI investigators did not uncover any proof that Clinton or her staff members had purposefully broken any laws pertaining to sensitive material or had tried to obstruct the inquiry.
The governor of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu, a Republican, said there was a “huge difference” between the two probes, but it “has to be explained to the American people.” Sununu made the statement during an interview with CBS News on Sunday.
Former Vice President Mike Pence was notified by the Justice Department earlier this month that no charges would be filed regarding the discovery of sensitive documents in his Indiana home. Although, as in the Clinton case, no evidence of obstruction or deliberate law-breaking has emerged, a separate Justice Department special counsel inquiry into the finding of classified information at a home and office of President Joe Biden is still ongoing.
William Barr, Trump’s own former attorney general, predicted the worst for the president on Fox News, arguing that he had no right to keep such private documents.
“If even half of it is true,” Barr said of the allegations in the indictment, “then he’s toast. I mean, it’s a pretty — it’s a very detailed indictment, and it’s very, very damning. And this idea of presenting Trump as a victim here — a victim of a witch hunt is ridiculous.”