The arraignment of former U.S. President Donald Trump, related to charges concerning classified documents, unfolded amidst a flurry of activity at the federal courthouse in Miami.
A diverse crowd, including Trump enthusiasts, critics, and media personnel, congregated hours before Trump’s scheduled appearance. The crowd was a colorful mix of individuals sporting patriotic outfits, carrying signs endorsing Trump, and even a look-alike of the former president. Notably, there were also detractors present, one of whom was dressed as a prisoner and brandishing a “Lock Him Up” placard.
Adding to the spectacle, Vivek Ramaswamy, a Republican presidential candidate, issued a public challenge to his 2024 competitors. He urged them to commit to pardoning Trump if they win the election or justify their refusal to do so. The event was closely covered by journalists from various outlets, who provided live updates, including a security scare involving a suspicious device. The device, later identified as a television screen displaying a message against the media, prompted the deployment of a bomb squad and a temporary evacuation of the area.
Trump is facing a total of 37 charges, 31 of which are alleged violations of the Espionage Act for the unauthorized retention of national defense information. The charges also encompass allegations of obstruction of justice and making false statements concerning his handling of classified documents post-presidency. Walt Nauta, an aide to Trump, is also implicated in the case.
The arraignment was overseen by Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman, who also managed bond-related matters. Despite requests from media organizations, Goodman denied permission for cameras in the courtroom, citing security reasons. He did, however, agree to the prompt release of a transcript of the proceedings.
The trial will be supervised by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, who was nominated by Trump. Her appointment has sparked calls for her recusal from some legal experts due to her previous rulings related to the case. Trump, who is also implicated in a separate hush-money case initiated by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, has vehemently denied all allegations, dismissing them as a politically motivated “witch hunt.” Following the arraignment, Trump was slated to make a public statement in Bedminster, New Jersey.