Live Updates: Trump delivers fiery speech after pleading 'not guilty' to federal charges
Former President Donald Trump delivered a speech at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J. afterpleading 'not guilty' to federal charges during a Miami court appearance on Tuesday. He blasted the case as well as the special counsel, Jack Smith, while maintaining his innocence.
Here's what we're following:
- The charges: Trump is facing 37 federal charges, including obstruction and unlawful retention of defense information.
- The rules: A federal judge magistrate didn't place any travel limits on Trump, but did rule that he may be limited in who he can discuss the case with.
- Trump's strategy: As a sign he's still determined to win in the court of public opinion, Trump is surrounding himself with his supporters and painting himself a victim of corrupt politics.
Former federal prosecutor calls the punishment if found guilty a 'very, very open question'
The indictment unsealed against Trump is a "very impressive document," says Ankush Khardori, a former federal prosecutor and a contributing writer for Politico.
He says its extensive evidence and crystal-clear narrative make it a must-read for every American. At the same time, he cautions, an indictment is simply a set of allegations — and it's up to the government to establish those allegations at trial.
If Trump were found guilty, what sort of punishment might he face? Khardori tells Morning Edition that's a "very, very open question."
"The most serious charge carries a 20-year statutory maximum. Now, that's not a very helpful way of thinking about these things," he says. "Comparable cases involving other government officials that have gone to trial and resulted in guilty verdicts have ended up with real terms of imprisonment in the single- or mid-single-digit years of imprisonment."
Trump, he says, is a unique defendant.
"He's a first-time offender. He was a former president," he adds. "There are very complex legal and factual issues that I expect to be aired out during the course of this trial. And ultimately, the sentence that a judge issues is very much up to their very wide discretion."
The former president pleaded not guilty in court on Tuesday, and he has proclaimed his innocence on social media while deriding the investigation as a witch hunt.
Khardori says we're still a ways away from a trial, which may be especially hard to schedule given the packed political calendar next year and concerns about interfering with the political process.
And he thinks it's unlikely that Trump would go to prison as long as he's an active presidential candidate. Even if a trial and conviction did happen during campaign season, he says the judge has a lot of discretion to allow "post-trial briefing."
"Months can go by before sentencing is even completed, and then ... she can allow Trump to remain out on bail even while his case is pending on appeal," Khardori adds. "So there's no mandatory term of imprisonment on any of the charges, and she would be under no obligation to send him immediately to prison upon a conviction."
That's a wrap from Trump
The former president ended his remarks just over 30 minutes of speaking. He offered a few waves and fist pumps, then exited the event without shaking hands or speaking with any of his supporters.
Some of the night's biggest donors will attend a candlelit dinner with Trump later in the evening, according to the New York Times. Guests had to pay at least $1,000 to attend the speech alone.
Trump's campaign saw a fundraising boon after the last arraignment
Tonight's event in Bedminster isn't just about surrounding an embattled Donald Trump with the warmth of his supporters' cheers, or even about ensuring his message of political martyrdom is heard from a different megaphone. It also serves as a fundraiser, showing another key Trump strategy -- capitalizing on political controversy.
After Trump's last indictment in March, his campaign saw an $18.8 million surge in donations, according to a report from Politico. That was roughly the same amount he'd taken in during the first three months of 2023.
Trump's campaign immediately pushed out fundraising emails after Trump broke the news of his federal indictment on Thursday. Those asks for financial support have kept up at a steady pace since then.
Trump attacks political rivals new and old
Trump is listing a litany of his scandals throughout the years, portraying each as evidence of a vast network of people and institutions posed against him. So far, he's attacked Special Counsel Robert Mueller, both of his impeachment trials, the Steele dossier, the FBI, a House investigation into Hunter Biden, President Joe Biden, current immigration policy, former immigration policy and the results of 2020 election, which he lost.
He's mentioned Hillary Clinton's emails more than a couple times and dismissed the media as peddling "disinformation."
In an interesting detail, Trump attacked what he called the "leaking sieve" of Washington that led to news of his case being shared in outlets like The New York Times and the Washington Post. Many of the biggest leaks to the media tend to come from sources who corroborate their accounts with classified documents.
Trump says he had 'every right' to keep 15 boxes of classified documents
Trump says he had "every right" to keep the boxes he did and he followed the law.
"Whatever documents presidents want to take with them, they have the right to do so under the Presidential Records Act," he said. "It's an absolute right. The law couldn't be more clear."
At the same time, Trump is trying to draw a false equivalency with President Joe Biden's handling of classified documents and wondering aloud why Biden hasn't been charged.
In Trump's case, the National Archives was the first to identify the missing documents and request their return.
Trump initially resisted returning them, and his lawyers at times misled federal investigators, according to the indictment.
By contrast, Biden's team appears to have found a smaller number of documents, and returned them to the federal government promptly.
Trump is also trying to downplay what was in the boxes he kept, saying were filled with sentimental objects like photographs, clothing and memorabilia.
"I hadn't had the chance to go through all the boxes," he said. "It's a long tedious job."
Trump says his actions were protected under the Presidential Records Act
Speaking on the stage just now, Trump said that the Espionage Act does not apply to his case and his actions (presumably, refusing to turn over hundreds of classified documents) were protected by the Presidential Records Act.
To clarify: the Presidential Records Act does give presidents broad authority to declassify information, but only while in office. The federal prosecutors who've charged him said Trump didn't take that action here — and knew he was violating the act by keeping classified documents.
Trump takes to the stage and immediately blasts Biden as 'politically corrupt'
The former president took the stage as the song "God Bless the USA" blared from loudspeakers and hundreds of his supporters, many of them decked out in MAGA gear, cheered along.
"Today we witnessed the most evil and heinous abuse of power in the history of this country," were Trump's first words. "A corrupt sitting president had his top political opponent arrested on fake and fabricated charges in which he and other presidents would've been guilty of — right in the middle of a presidential campaign in which he was losing badly."
It's hard to overstate how much this crowd and venue represent Trump's home turf. The indictment document unsealed Friday named Bedminster, N.J. as one of the places where Trump allegedly hid classified documents.
Trump has arrived at his Bedminster club ahead of an expected speech
Cable news shots and social media posts showed Trump arriving at his Bedminster golf club just around 8:40 p.m. ET, about five minutes before he was scheduled to speak.
It's unclear if his remarks will start on time, but you can follow a livestream here. We'll bring you key moments and summaries on this page.
Take a look at scenes from outside Trump's arraignment hearing
While Trump headed into the Miami federal courthouse, the media, his supporters — and critics — lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the former president.
Some supporters were dressed in Make America Great Again gear and showed support for Trump's 2024 presidential run.
Others took a different tact and dressed in prison jumpsuits and held up "Lock Him Up" signs.
Take a look at the day's circus-like atmosphere in Miami — including a moment, shown here, when journalists, who'd been in the courthouse, emerged from the proceedings to relay their reporting. Some reporters were allowed to watch from inside the courtroom and an overflow room, but phones and laptops were not allowed inside.
A Republican pleads with his party to turn away from Trump
Though the voices in the Republican Party speaking out forcefully against former President Trump after this indictment are few and far between, there are some who are. In addition to candidates like former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu is pleading with Republicans to abandon Trump.
He called the charges against Trump “really, really serious,” but he’s largely making an electability argument. He said on CNN Tuesday evening that the party is “taking the bait” and essentially following Trump “down a rabbit hole.”
“It’s not what Republicans are about, and so I am begging the party to say, look, Trump’s issues are Trump’s issues,” Sununu said. “He’s going to have to deal with them. Let it go. And make sure that we are putting forth a candidate and a message and something that resonates with folks that can win in November of 24. Trump can win the nomination. But mathematically, we all know that there’s no way that he can win in November of 24.”
Polling has shown that Republicans are still largely in Trump’s camp. A recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll showed that almost two-thirds of Republicans said they wanted Trump to be president even if he’s convicted of a crime. But 70% overall said they would not want him to be president if found guilty, including 68% of independents.
Sununu continued, calling the indictments a “dividing line” and that they are making the gap between Republicans and everyone else “bigger and bigger and bigger.”
“If you want to fix the Department of Justice,” he argued, “if you want those reforms out there, it doesn’t happen unless Republicans win, and Trump can’t win, so the best thing if you want to support the former president in fixing the Department of Justice, is put forth another candidate, who can actually close the deal in November. I mean, the math is quite that simple.”
Sununu recently announced he would not run for president in 2024 in a Washington Post op-ed titled 'I’m not running for president in 2024. Beating Trump is more important.'
NPR's Politics Podcast walks through what happened at Trump's arraignment
Today's NPR Politics Podcast episode takes a deep dive into Tuesday's events — the first time a former president has appeared in court for federal charges. Miles Parks, Deepa Shivaram, Ron Elving walk through what happened today and what to expect next.
Trump's speech is delayed as guests continue to arrive
Trump just arrived at the Newark International Airport ahead of his scheduled remarks at a fundraiser this evening.
Photos and social media posts of his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., show a parade of familiar faces arriving — and, no surprise here, they're some of Trump's biggest supporters.
Here's a short list of who's on the scene:
- U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala.
- Trump adviser Kimberly Guilfoyle
- MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell
- Former Trump strategist Sebastian Gorka
- Andrew Giuliani, son of former Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani
- Former acting Director of National Intelligence, Richard Grenell
Decked out in MAGA hats and Trump gear, the guests will soon take their place in the hundred or so white plastic folding chairs lined by patriotic bunting.
Trump's remarks, which were originally scheduled for 8:15 p.m. ET, have been pushed back to 8:45 p.m. ET, according to his campaign.
Trump has had many lawyers. Here's why he seems to have a revolving list
At the federal courthouse in Miami today Trump was represented by attorneys Christopher Kise and Todd Blanche.
Jim Trusty and John Rowley, Trump's attorneys on this case as of last week, quit after the indictment came down against him.
Trump has always had a revolving list of attorneys, NPR's Andrea Bernstein said on NPR's All Things Considered.
Part of this is because of "his unusual number of legal issues -- two special counsel investigations, two impeachments, a criminal conviction for his company and a criminal indictment in Manhattan, and maybe dozens of civil suits," Bernstein said.
Trump's existing group of political advisers can often clash with his team of legal advisers who see things differently, she said.
Sometimes the one who has a conflicting view of the situation is Trump himself.
"As we have seen, Trump often thinks he has a better of idea of how to handle legal issues than his own lawyers, and often overrules them," Bernstein said. "As we just saw in the recent indictment, as alleged, he asked his lawyer to commit crimes for him: suggesting lying to the Justice Department and, according to his lawyers notes, implying he should destroy or dispose of documents."
Atlanta police were spotted in Miami today
Donald Trump's legal peril doesn't end with whatever happens in Miami and Manhattan.
In the state of Georgia, Trump is being investigated for allegedly pressuring state officials to overturn the election results.
The probe finished up in early January, and the top prosecutor on the case, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, has said that indictment decisions are "imminent," though it's unclear if Trump would be among those charged.
Today, Atlanta police officers were spotted watching how Miami police conducted crowd control, reports NPR's Franco Ordonez.
That was likely so they could "learn what to do if their own investigation results in an indictment this summer," Ordonez told NPR's All Things Considered.
🎧Listen to the full interview with NPR's Franco Ordonez on All Things Considered.
Trump's Bedminster speech follows a familiar pattern of political strategy
Trump is en route to his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., where he's expected to speak shortly after 8 p.m. ET.
If his remarks in the press or his comments on Truth Social are any indication, this speech may sound familiar to the one he delivered to a room full of supporters at Mar-a-Lago in April, after his first criminal arraignment.
In that 25-minute speech, Trump blasted the 34 charges of falsifying business records to cover up hush money payments, blasting the arraignment as a political stunt and the case against him as weaponization of a corrupt political justice system.
He personally attacked Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg against a judge's warnings — and then attacked the judge (Juan Merchan) as well.
Like with this latest round of legal happenings, Trump's messaging then spread fast and far and, most importantly, seemed to serve its purpose: He saw a boost in the polls.
When will Trump's trial start?
Special counsel Jack Smith pledged on Friday that he and his team would work to ensure the former president received a speedy trial — but it's unclear that the president's legal team would choose speed themselves.
Federal law stipulates that a "speedy trial" is one that starts no later than 70 days after an arraignment. But that doesn't account for defense motions, and in this case, there could be plenty, according to Weaver.
"There's going to be motions to dismiss it on the basis of selective prosecution," he told NPR on Saturday. "You prosecuted me, but you didn't prosecute Hillary Clinton or President Joe Biden for possessing classified documents, as well."
Weaver is also expecting delays over the choice of venue (a possible move to West Palm Beach, which could see a jury pool more favorable to Trump) and delays related to the Classified Protection Act (the defense attorney might need a security clearance just to review the records included as evidence).
That means a trial could land right in the thick of Trump's 2024 presidential campaign — as the former president told Politico this weekend, he'd stump from prison if necessary.
"I'll never leave," Trump reportedly said. "Look, if I would have left, I would have left prior to the original race in 2016. That was a rough one."
Is Trump allowed to be talking to Nauta?
Donald Trump was flanked by his aide and co-defendant, Walt Nauta, during his court convoy's unannounced stop at a Cuban restaurant in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood.
Nauta, who is facing six federal charges, is a constant presence in Trump's orbit, often spotted with him on the golf course, at campaign events and throughout Mar-a-Lago — where federal prosecutors say he knowingly lied to FBI investigators about how many classified documents were in Trump's possession.
During one moment in today's hearing, attorneys for Trump and the government went back and forth over communication with potential witnesses in the case.
Ultimately, it was agreed that the government will eventually provide a list of witnesses that Trump is not allowed to communicate with about the case — that's likely to include Nauta.
So it looks like the Versailles trip wasn't a violation of any judge's order, but Trump and Nauta may be limited in their future communication about the case.
On Truth Social, Trump summed up the day with one adjective: 'SAD'
In his first social media post since entering a "not guilty" plea, Donald Trump issued a "thank you" to the city of Miami.
"Such a warm welcome on such a SAD DAY for our Country!" he wrote on Truth Social, the platform he owns.
It's not much of a departure in tone from his pre-hearing missive earlier today:
"ON MY WAY TO COURTHOUSE. WITCH HUNT!!! MAGA"
Senate Republicans split on Trump criminal indictment fallout
Senate Republicans are split on the impact of former President Trump’s criminal indictment, which includes 37 federal criminal charges, including obstruction and unlawful retention of classified documents.
Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley called the criminal indictment “politically motivated, clearly.” He said he believed Trump will be the GOP nominee in 2024 and added, “there’s always a lot of a lot around President Trump” and said “I just don’t think this will change his profile.”
Many Republicans on Capitol Hill argued that the charges around classified documents show unequal treatment by the Justice Department of Trump and President Biden. A special counsel is also reviewing Biden’s retention of classified documents at his residence, at his former office before he was elected in 2020. Biden cooperated and returned documents that were found.
“These charges reflect an egregious double standard,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told reporters. He said the Biden Justice Department “despises Donald Trump” and added, “No president in the history of our country has been prosecuted by his successor. This is something banana republics do.”
The top Senate Republican, Sen. Mitch McConnell, waved off questions about Trump, saying: “I'm just simply not going to comment on the candidates. We've got a bunch of them. And I'm just simply going to stay out of it.”
Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., told reporters that having the front-runner of the GOP indicted “is not good for our party, clearly not good for our party, but we'll allow the legal process to work its way through. In the meantime we've got other candidates who can look forward into what we want in our country.”
Rounds has endorsed South Carolina GOP Sen. Tim Scott’s presidential campaign and compared his optimistic message to that of former President Ronald Reagan’s. He said many GOP voters still back many of Trump’s policies and “we think there are other people who can do the same thing but not with all of the other issues that come with the former president.”
Trump's plane is taking off for New Jersey. Here's what he's doing tonight
Cable news networks captured Donald Trump's private Boeing 757 (affectionately known as "Trump Force One") taking off from Miami International Airport for a flight to Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. It's about a 2.5 hour flight.
Trump is expected to speak to a crowd of his supporters for a fundraising event at his Bedminster golf club tonight around 8 p.m. ET. On top of his Versailles visit and his constant stream of reaction on Truth Social, this is yet another sign he's determined to fight these charges in the court of public opinion, painting himself as a political martyr up against a corrupt administration.
And in what might feel like a preview of the 2024 presidential election, he'll likely appear across the networks as half of a split screen: President Joe Biden is holding a Juneteenth concert at the White House around the same time.
Trump's convoy is causing a bunch of traffic headaches for Floridians
Hundreds of people converging on the federal courthouse in downtown Miami on Tuesday, including Donald Trump's motorcade, has led to multiple traffic delays in the area's public transit systems.
Miami-Dade police shut down Northwest First Avenue between Third and Fifth streets — an area near the federal courthouse — until further notice.
Additional traffic has led to multiple Metrobus routes running behind schedule.
According to Miami-Dade Transit officials, affected routes include the 836 Express, the 120 Beach Max, 119 South and the 93 Biscayne Max — and buses 9 and 3, all key transportation for commuters.
Other transit systems such as the Metro Mover are running as scheduled. It's not immediately known when the bus routes would resume normal operation.
Trump critics converge in Miami and hope 'justice prevails'
Ahead of former President Trump's court appearance, crowds of his supporters and detractors gathered outside the Miami federal courthouse.
Among the critics were Pat McCabe and his wife, Sandra Ferretti, who traveled more than an hour from Coconut Creek, Fla., to be at the courthouse Tuesday.
Ferretti held up a sign that said, "Justice Trumps All." She said she believes the former president will be held accountable for his alleged crimes.
"Frankly, he's gotten away with too much. I think that he's trampled on our country in a way that is unconscionable, that he has created division. He's a racist, et cetera. And so we really don't need to have this person representing our country to the world," she told NPR reporters on the scene. "Hopefully truth will prevail."
Trump supporters also flocked to the courthouse. Read more here.
Trump promised 'food for everyone' during his Versailles stop
After leaving the Miami federal courthouse, Donald Trump’s motorcade weaved through the city and made an unannounced visit to Versailles. That’s a famous Cuban restaurant in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood.
Smiling, Trump shook hands with dozens of people inside the restaurant. He was flanked by Walt Nauta, his co-defendant and personal aide.
At one point he shouted, “food for everyone" as the crowd cheered and chanted "USA!" At one point they sang 'Happy Birthday' to the former president, who turns 77 tomorrow.
It was a raucous, joyful environment — quite a contrast to the seriousness of appearing in a courtroom as the first former president to face federal charges.
DOJ special counsel Jack Smith was in the courtroom
Special counsel Jack Smith was at the federal courthouse in Miami on Tuesday, NPR's Carrie Johnson confirms.
He did not speak and the government was represented by other staffers.
Trump's convoy has stopped at a Cuban bakery
Shortly after leaving the Miami federal courthouse, Trump and his staff arrived at Versailles, a Cuban restaurant not too far from the courthouse.
He's talking to a small crowd of media and some of his supporters. We'll bring you some of what he said momentarily.
Walt Nauta didn't submit a plea
Trump's personal aide, Walt Nauta, did not submit a plea during his court appearance Tuesday. Nauta was indicted on six charges, including concealing documents and making false statements.
Nauta has yet to find legal representation but will return in two weeks for his arraignment and to submit his plea at that time, according to NPR's Lexie Schapitl.
The indictment unsealed last week alleges that the former president and Nauta stored dozens of classified documents in Trump's Florida residence and refused to return them when asked by the FBI and National Archives.
Trump is free to go, but can't talk to certain witnesses
Trump has left the courthouse after being processed and entering a plea.
NPR's Lexie Schapitl, who was in the overflow room of the federal courthouse in Miami, reports that digital fingerprints were taken but Trump was not handcuffed.
He did not have to surrender his passport, and no travel limits were placed on him.
However, one condition of his release includes no direct communication about the case with any of the witnesses on a list that the government will generate. That includes his aide, Walt Nauta.
Clarification: This post was updated to make clear that one of the conditions of his release is that Trump may not have direct communication about the case with witnesses.
Trump has left the courthouse
Donald Trump has left a Miami federal courthouse after pleading "not guilty" to 37 federal counts.
It's a historic first federal arraignment for a former president, but also the second time Trump personally has appeared as a criminal defendant, following his arraignment in Manhattan in April.
Trump is expected to return shortly to his golf resort in Bedminster, N.J., where he'll speak at a fundraising event this evening.
Republican voters unbothered by Trump's charges, a new poll shows
Trump is still the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination despite facing 37 federal criminal charges, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll.
The poll also says that 43% of Republicans support Trump, down slightly from a May poll, but still maintaining his "double-digit lead" over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is also running for president.
About half of Americans say Trump's indictment in the classified documents probe is politically motivated, according to this poll. This is down six points since the last poll published in April concerning the 34 felony counts out of New Yorkover Trump's alleged falsification of business records.
Despite the support, 3 in 5 Americans (both Republicans and Democrats) do view this latest indictment in Florida as more serious than the charges from New York in April, according to an earlier ABC News/Ipsos poll.
Some Republican candidates for president weigh in on Trump's indictment
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made his feelings toward Trump clear in a tweet posted earlier Tuesday.
"We need to stop blaming our adversaries for the weakness of our candidates. It’s Trump. He’s a 3-time loser," he said.
In an interview on Fox earlier Monday, Nikki Haley, another candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, said if the charges against the former president are true then "Trump was incredibly reckless with our national security."
This was a departure from Haley's comments before the indictment was unsealed, in which she called the criminal case against Trump "vendetta politics."
She maintained her opinion, however, that the Justice Department and the FBI have lost all credibility and must be completely overhauled.
Most of Trump's other Republican presidential opponents have toed a more careful line, largely in an effort to win over his supporters to secure a GOP nomination, as NPR's Politics Podcast covered previously.
Correction: An earlier version of this blog post incorrectly attributed Nikki Haley's appearance on Fox on Tuesday. In fact, the interview was on Monday.
Trump pleads not guilty to classified documents charges
Trump pleaded not guilty to 37 felony counts relating to his alleged mishandling of classified information, according to The Associated Press.
He entered the plea through one of his lawyers, Todd Blanche, in the courtroom on Tuesday afternoon.
The indictment unsealed last week alleges that the former president and his valet, Walt Nauta, stored dozens of classified documents in his Florida residence and refused to return them when asked by the FBI and National Archives.
The charges include 31 counts of willful retention of national defense information (which applies only to Trump), conspiracy to obstruct justice and concealing a document in a federal investigation.
Trump has maintained that he did nothing wrong and decried the charges as a "witch hunt" and "election interference."
Listen live: NPR's special coverage on Trump's indictment
Listen to NPR's live special coverageon NPR One of Donald Trump's federal criminal case as the former president makes an appearance in a Miami courthouse following the unsealing of a grand jury indictment outlining 37 federal charges, including obstruction and unlawful retention of defense information.
Trump's indictment could give him a boost with GOP voters, strategist says
What do Republican voters make of Trump's second indictment?
Republican pollster and strategist Sarah Longwell says many are buying into the former president's argument that the charges against him are political.
"There's this phenomenon that happens every time Trump is impeached or indicted, and I call it the 'rally-round-Trump effect,' where voters sort of share his grievance," she toldMorning Edition on Monday. "They use words like weaponized, railroaded, two-tiered justice system."
Longwell says it's hard to blame voters for believing this, because it's the message they're getting not just from Trump but from many Republican elected officials, right-wing media and even Trump's primary challengers.
While some Republicans — including former members of Trump's administration — have been critical, a majority of the party is standing behind him, even as some are running against him. And Longwell thinks that's because they believe that attacking Trump would cost them votes — which wouldn't be totally off-base.
"We have been asking now for several months how voters would respond to Trump being indicted this second time," she explains. "And out of the 50 voters that we talked to, only two said that another indictment would make them support Trump less. But 19 of them said that it would make them support Trump more."
She chalks primary candidates' stance up to a tactical decision, to stay on Trump's side now and hope they can make their case later.
"But it really is a mistake because it allows Trump to kind of suck up all this oxygen," Longwell adds. "And these other challengers, they kind of become bit players in Trump's central drama, and it makes it impossible for them to make an affirmative case for themselves or to use this as an opening to explain why Trump is unfit."
She expects the indictment to make Trump an even stronger candidate, at least in the short term.
"The question is is how many more indictments are going to come, and is it going to be a case where, because of all of Trump's legal troubles, he's the only person who ever gets talked about?" she says.
If so, Longwell adds, that ultimately makes him the dominant player on the scene — at least until the general election. Trump isn't popular with swing voters, and she doesn't anticipate his legal troubles will change that.
Trump's hearing has started. Here's why we're still waiting for updates
Today's court appearance was scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. ET, which means we're in a waiting game when it comes to more information on what transpires inside the courtroom.
Trump and his lawyers could agree to be arraigned, which would mean he could issue a plea for the 37 federal charges he's facing.
As a reminder, reporters had to check cellphones and laptops with court staff. NPR's Lexie Schapitl is one of the 300 reporters in a nearby overflow room, but NPR is waiting to confirm all information before we share it.
Meanwhile, outside the court, the crowd is growing to a size of over a thousand, including NPR's Greg Allen, who's on the ground.
He tells us it's a real "carnival atmosphere" with "people selling Trump T-shirts and hats."
"It's mango season in Miami, and one fruit vendor is cutting up and selling fresh mangoes," Allen said.
In other words, it's pretty high contrast to what's likely happening inside the courtroom with Trump.
What about other cases? A former federal prosecutor on why Trump's is unique
Trump and some of his defenders have argued that other elected officials — from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to President Biden to former Vice President Mike Pence — have mishandled classified information without having to go to court.
Are those cases comparable? No, says former federal prosecutor Robert Mintz.
Trump's case is about the willful retention of classified documents, Mintz tells Morning Edition, adding that while there may have been documents improperly removed in those other cases, there was no evidence of intent to hold on to them.
"So in a very real sense this indictment that former President Donald Trump is facing is not about what documents he took with him when he left the White House, it's all about what he's alleged to have done after the government requested the return of those documents," Mintz says.
He points to key details from the indictment, like allegations about Trump moving boxes out of a storage room, telling an attorney to search the room for classified material without mentioning that dozens of boxes were stored elsewhere, suggesting an attorney hide or destroy documents that had been subpoenaed and causing people to make false statements about whether all documents had been produced.
"The prosecutors are going to ... try to argue that somebody who was totally innocent would not have acted the way that the defendant, in this case former President Trump, would have acted," Mintz says.
Mintz says the concept of "selective prosecution" is rarely an effective defense, unless someone can demonstrate that they're being singled out for a reason like ethnicity or religion.
He expects to see the defense raise that issue — pointing, for example, to Clinton using a personal email server to conduct government business — but doesn't think the judge will let them get very far down that road.
"Judges like to keep the case focused on the defendant, the charges, the evidence against them and not turn this into a sideshow where the case becomes really about another case," Mintz says.
The White House defends the Justice Department's independence again
The White House again declined to comment on the specifics of Trump's indictment on Tuesday, other than to say it is prepared in case of any security concerns.
In a press briefing during the time of Trump's court appearance, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden "was not involved."
"The president has been very, very clear," she added. "The Department of Justice is independent; he wants to restore that independence."
Republicans have called the charges against Trump politically motivated, which the Biden administration has repeatedly denied.
Kari Lake was among the Trump supporters outside the courthouse
The sea of Trump supporters outside the federal courthouse in Miami included Kari Lake, the Republican candidate for governor in Arizona who refused to concede and has staunchly defended the former president in the wake of his second indictment.
Lake didn't publicly address the crowd, just "prepped and then left with her entourage," Peter Haden reports for NPR.
She made a much more vocal defense of Trump in recent days, including at the Republican State Convention Friday.
"I have a message tonight for Merrick Garland and Jack Smith and Joe Biden — and the guys back there in the fake news media, you should listen up as well, this one is for you,” said Lake, a former news anchor. “If you want to get to President Trump, you are going to have go through me, and you are going to have to go through 75 million Americans just like me. And I’m going to tell you, most of us are card-carrying members of the N.R.A.”
Lake doubled down during a Monday appearance on an episode of former Trump aide Steve Bannon's War Room podcast, in which she raised that number from 75 million to 300 million.
The total population of the U.S. is just under 335 million.
Newsweek reports that Lake said Trump supporters would be "peaceful in everything we do," and urged others to join her in protesting the "bogus" indictment in Miami to show Trump that "he's got the support of America."
The House GOP campaign chief says Trump's indictment could drive voter turnout
The chief of the House GOP campaign arm pushed back at the notion that Trump's indictment would have a negative impact on Republicans’ chances of retaining control of the House in 2024 due to his legal troubles.
“I think he would help because he would turn out voters that normally wouldn’t turn out,” Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., told NPR.
Hudson formally endorsed Trump’s 2024 presidential bid over the weekend at the North Carolina GOP convention.
Hudson sidestepped questions about whether he agrees with the push from some fellow House Republicans, like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., to defund the special counsel’s investigation in upcoming federal spending bills.
Hudson told reporters Tuesday it was the House’s constitutional duty to conduct “vigorous oversight.”
Hudson suggested a possible preview of the 2024 message on the campaign trail:
“I look at this and think Abraham Lincoln was known for putting his rivals on his Cabinet to bring the country together. This president — Joe Biden — is going to be known for trying to put his rival in prison and ripping the country apart. I think that’s not a very good legacy.”
Trump is in federal custody
As hundreds of protesters converged in the Florida heat in front of the federal courthouse in downtown Miami, former President Trump's motorcade of black SUVs slipped into the underground garage.
He is expected to step into an elevator and head to the 13th floor for court proceedings.
No photographs or cameras are allowed inside the courtroom, and reporters had to check cellphones and laptops with court staff. Fewer than two dozen outlets will be in the actual courtroom.
More than 300 journalists, including NPR's Lexie Schapitl, and onlookers will be in a nearby overflow room.
Trump's legal spokeswoman Alina Habba says charges should 'terrify' Americans
Shortly after Trump was reportedly booked in a Miami courthouse, Alina Habba, who is one of Trump's attorneys but is not representing him in this classified documents case, spoke just outside the building to defend the former president and to say his criminal indictment should "terrify" Americans.
"The decision to pursue charges against President Trump while turning a blind eye to others is emblematic of the corruption we have here," she said arguing President Joe Biden was in possession of classified documents and was not criminally charged.
Habba also said this is the "type of thing you see in dictatorships like Cuba and Venezuela." She echoed comments Trump has been making saying this criminal case is essentially retribution for Trump running against President Joe Biden.
Who is Walt Nauta?
Trump's name wasn't the only one on the indictment that was unsealed last Friday. His personal aide, Walt Nauta, was also indicted on six charges, including concealing documents and making false statements.
Nauta, a Navy veteran, is named throughout the indictment, which alleges he moved boxes of classified documents around Mar-a-Lago at the direction of Trump, and lied to federal authorities about it during their investigation.
At one point, the indictment says, Nauta took a picture of a box of items that included classified docs that had spilled out, showing they were only supposed to be seen by the Five Eyes, an intelligence alliance including the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
Nauta was a presidential aide to Trump when he was in the White House, and remained as a personal aide at Mar-a-Lago. Nauta will also be in court today in Miami along with Trump.
Miami police stepped in to separate a heated exchange outside the Miami courthouse
NPR's Greg Allen and Peter Haden are outside the Wilkie D. Ferguson Courthouse in Miami.
Here's a bit of what they're seeing:
As the 3 p.m. court hearing for President Trump approaches, the number of Trump supporters showing up outside the Miami federal courthouse has swelled into the hundreds.
There have been heated exchanges between pro-and-anti Trump demonstrators — that, in one case, bordered on violence and led Miami Police to step in and separate the two sides. Officers have been using bicycles to keep people at bay.
Daniel Rivero of NPR member station WLRN is also outside the courthouse. Here's some of what he's reporting:
The hot midday sun seems to be wearing down the crowd of protesters gathered in downtown Miami for Donald Trump's arraignment. Several Trump supporters have been asking where to find water or food, while groups have sprawled underneath shaded areas.
Conservative rapper Forgiato Blow has arrived with his trademark beard and face tattoos, telling media that the case against Trump is a political "witch hunt."
The level of intra-party conflict is palpable among Republicans.
Both Blow and former Florida congressional candidate Laura Loomer are speaking strongly against Gov. Ron DeSantis, telling supporters that DeSantis has abandoned the movement. Even so, some common ground can be found.
A DeSantis and Trump supporter were seen making amends over the fact that they both think former President George W. Bush should be arrested for war crimes committed in Iraq.
➡️Follow local updates from the Miami courthouse as part of WLRN's live coverage
Here's a look at the charges Trump and Nauta are facing
Here is a summary of the counts laid out in the unsealed federal indictment, starting from page 28 of the document embedded below:
- Willful retention of national defense information: This charge, covering counts 1-31, only applies to Donald Trump and is for allegedly storing 31 such documents at Mar-a-Lago.
- Conspiracy to obstruct justice: Trump and his aide Walt Nauta, along with others, are charged with conspiring to keep those documents from the grand jury.
- Withholding a document or a record: Trump and Nauta are accused of misleading one of their attorneys by moving boxes of classified documents so the attorney could not find or introduce them to the grand jury.
- Corruptly concealing a document or record: This pertains to Trump and Nauta's alleged attempts to hide the boxes of classified documents from the attorney.
- Concealing a document in a federal investigation: They are accused of hiding Trump's continued possession of those documents at Mar-a-Lago from the FBI and causing a false certificate to be submitted to the FBI.
- Scheme to conceal: This is for the allegation that Trump and Nauta hid Trump's continued possession of those materials from the FBI and the grand jury.
- False statements and representations: This count concerns statements that Trump allegedly caused another one of his attorneys to make to the FBI and grand jury in early June regarding the results of the search at Mar-a-Lago.
- False statements and representations: This final count accuses Nauta of giving false answers during a voluntary interview with the FBI in late May.
According to the indictment, each one of those charges carries a maximum fine of $250,000, with maximum prison sentences between five and 20 years.
Trump blames 'election interference' and 'witch hunt' for criminal charges
Trump has repeatedly claimed his federal indictment is "election interference" and a "witch hunt" in a series of Truth Social posts leading up to his court appearance in Miami.
In another post, Trump claimed the criminal case is a ploy by President Joe Biden to get rid of Trump ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
Trump has further argued his defense for his supporters on his website by saying he had a "right" to declassify the documents found at his Florida resort.
He wrote in a statement posted on his website, "The Biden-appointed Special Counsel has INDICTED me in yet another witch hunt regarding documents that I had the RIGHT to declassify as President of the United States."
2 lawyers have filed paperwork to represent Trump in Miami
Two lawyers have filed paperwork to represent Trump in the Florida document mishandling and obstruction case, according to the court docket.
They are: Todd Blanche, a lawyer in New York who appeared with Trump in the hush money payments case, and Christopher Kise, a former Florida solicitor general who has also done legal work for Trump in the past.
The court papers said Kise would help Trump through a trial and any appeals.
"FEE DISPUTES BETWEEN COUNSEL AND CLIENT SHALL NOT BE A BASIS FOR WITHDRAWAL FROM THIS REPRESENTATION," the court filing said.
3 notable things that could happen in the courtroom today
Today's hearing is expected to be short, but given the historic nature of the case at hand (Donald Trump is the first former U.S. president to receive a federal indictment), there are some possible happenings that could shake up the current political landscape — especially the 2024 GOP presidential primary.
1. Trump could enter a plea
It's unclear whether Trump will return for an arraignment at a later date or enter his plea on Tuesday.
His attorney Alina Habba, who is not part of the team representing him in the classified documents case, told Fox News on Sunday that Trump would not plan to seek a plea deal — "especially when he's not done anything wrong," she added. "He would never admit guilt."
2. Trump's aide and co-defendant, Walt Nauta, could also enter a plea
Trump's personal aide, Walt Nauta, has also been summoned to appear in court at the same time. Nauta is listed as a co-defendant in the case, with federal prosecutors saying he helped Trump move and hide boxes of classified documents.
3. A judge could set restrictions on Trump and Nauta as the case moves forward
A federal magistrate judge who's expected to oversee today's hearing could set certain restrictions as the case proceeds, potentially asking Trump and Nauta to turn over passports, limit travel or check in with court supervision.
Trump supporters explain why they came to the courthouse
As the clock ticks down and the courthouse crowd grows, NPR's Peter Haden spoke to some protesters about what motivated them to show up.
Gregg Donovan flew in from California on Monday and got to the courthouse at 5 a.m. today. He said he had to show his support for Trump.
"This is surreal. It’s never happened before," he said. "To me this is the worst thing in our country in history for Republicans except maybe Abraham Lincoln being assassinated."
Donovan wants to see the case thrown out of court, and charges dropped. And he believes the experience will make Trump "stronger in the long run."
Sylvia Silva, of Miami, agrees with the former president and his allies that the charges are politically motivated.
"They want to destroy Donald Trump because they are afraid," she said. "They're afraid that he’s gonna clean up houses and some of them are gonna be in deep trouble. Like Fauci, Hillary Clinton, Biden himself, his son."
She said she would like Trump to be tried like a normal citizen, but doubts he will get a fair trial. At least this is happening in Florida, she adds.
"In New York, they’re totally against him," Silva says. "Miami is more like a Republican state, so they're gonna be more careful what they do."
Trump has arrived at the courthouse
Trump's motorcade arrived at the federal courthouse and pulled into its underground garage around 1:50 p.m. on Tuesday, as supporters and detractors watched from the streets nearby.
Minutes earlier, the former president had posted on Truth Social: "ON MY WAY TO COURTHOUSE. WITCH HUNT!!! MAGA"
Video feeds showed the line of cars making their way through the area, into the parking garage and out of sight.
At one point, police officers could be seen escorting a protester wearing a black-and-white striped prison outfit off of the street, away from the passing cars.
Trump's motorcade is en route to the courthouse
Live shots from cable news networks showed the former President Donald Trump's motorcade departing his resort in Doral, Fla. Several black SUVs, flanked by police cars, are now driving down a stretch of five-lane freeway that's been closed to other traffic.
It's not every day Florida sees this kind of history being made on its palm tree-lined streets.
We're not likely to get a good look at Trump arriving at court
We're probably not going to see Trump's court appearance with our own eyes, since the courthouse is connected to an underground garage and no cameras are allowed inside.
His arrival in Miami yesterday was captured on camera, however.
Trump encouraged his supporters to protest, but peacefully
In another similarity with the Manhattan court appearance, Trump is again asking his supporters to mobilize for protest.
"We need strength at this point. Everyone is afraid to do anything. They're afraid to talk. They have to go out and protest peacefully," Trump said in a radio interview hosted by his former adviser, Roger Stone, on Sunday afternoon.
"It is essential that they keep it peaceful, civil and legal," Stone emphasized.
But not all of Trump's supporters were using words like "peaceful" in discussing plans of action.
Some of the former president's Republican allies in Congress evoked warlike postures in social media posts about his court summons.
We have now reached a war phase.— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) June 9, 2023
Eye for an eye.
"Eye for an eye," wrote Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona. "We have now reached a war phase."
"Buckle up. 1/50K know your bridges. Rock steady calm," wrote Louisiana Rep. Clay Higgins in apparent reference to military terms. Two days later he backpedaled, telling all "patriots" not to "trip the wire" the mainstream media laid.
House Republicans pledged to discredit the inquiry that led to Trump's historic federal indictment by investigating the Justice Department.
➡️ Read more about how congressional Republicans responded to the news of Trump's indictment.
Here's why updates from today's court appearance might be delayed
Trump's hearing is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET, according to the former president and his lawyers. But before he can appear in court, he'll need to surrender for pretrial services, including booking and processing.
Weaver told NPR's Weekend Edition that the federal courthouse is connected to an underground garage. That tunnel could provide a secure spot for Trump to be electronically fingerprinted.
As for handcuffs and a mugshot? Those steps probably won't be necessary in this controlled environment with such a high-profile figure, Weaver says. Skipping both of those steps would be consistent with what transpired ahead of Trump's Manhattan arraignment in April.
Unlike with the Manhattan court appearance, cameras are not allowed in the federal court. Some reporters will be allowed to watch from inside the courtroom and an overflow room, but phones and laptops will not be allowed inside.
Updates will likely come at a delayed pace, from the handwritten notes of reporters.
Trump is expected to depart the courtroom and head immediately back to his golf resort in Bedminster, N.J., to make remarks at a fundraising event on Tuesday night.
He took a similar tactic after being arraigned in New York in April, taking to his home turf in Mar-a-Lago in Florida for a campaign speech in which he described himself as an innocent man and political martyr.
Authorities briefly cordoned off an area in front of the courthouse
Miami Police and the Department of Homeland Security cordoned off an area on the east side of the Miami courthouse due to concern about a device.
Officers moved the public and media 100 yards away.
According to a witness, a man drove up in a car and attached a non-working television to a pole. Officers took the sign down and a police dog “alerted” when nearing the device which is spray painted with the words “F*** THE COMMUNIST CONTROLLED NEWS MEDIA.”
Authorities took the television apart and deemed it not a threat. The media and public were then allowed to return in front of the courthouse.
Miami police are bracing for as many as 50,000 protesters outside the courthouse
Law enforcement authorities in Miami are bracing for possible protests outside the federal courthouse after former President Donald Trump called for his supporters to show up throughout the day.
Miami police say they're ready for between 5,000 and 50,000 protesters, NPR's Greg Allen reports.
They're working closely with federal and state law enforcement authorities and have set up a joint command.
Police haven't set up barricades outside the courthouse (with the exception of briefly cordoning off one area due to a suspicious device). Miami's police chief says he sees no credible threat and expects a peaceful protest.
Law enforcement is on alert in Miami after a surge in violent online chatter
Law enforcement is preparing for likely crowds around the Miami courthouse where former President Donald Trump is scheduled to appear this afternoon.
Extremism researchers say caution is important — but so far, they're not seeing online indications of planned violence.
Violent rhetoric in far-right spaces online surged last week after Trump's indictment.
But Benjamin Decker of the threat intelligence group Memetica says he isn't seeing the detailed, coordinated chatter that preceded the riot at the U.S. Capitol more than two years ago.
“One of the most striking things that stuck out about Jan. 6 that we're not seeing now are logistical and tactical maps of buildings, facilities, areas, exit routes,” he said.
Still, Decker and other analysts say preparations are warranted, given the surge in violent talk online.
Just catching up on the news of Trump's indictment? Start here
Former President Donald Trump was indicted on Friday on 37 federal counts including obstruction and unlawful retention of defense information for storing dozens of classified documents at his Florida resort and refusing to return them to the FBI and the National Archives.
Here are some of the key moments you may have missed:
- U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, a judge whom Trump appointed, was assigned to oversee his case.
- Trump lawyers Jim Trusty and John Rowley resigned just hours before the indictment was formally unsealed.
- The unsealing of the indictment and a brief press statement marked the first public actions taken by special counsel Jack Smith, who's also overseeing an investigation into Trump's role in Jan. 6
➡️ Catch up on how the news unfolded by revisiting NPR's live coverage from Friday.
Trump is expected to appear in a Miami courtroom today
Former President Donald Trump is expected to appear in a Miami courthouse on Tuesday following last week's unsealing of a federal indictment accusing him of mishandling classified documents and obstructing the government's attempts to retrieve them.
Trump faces 37 federal charges, including obstruction and unlawful retention of defense information. Federal prosecutors say Trump illegally stored dozens of highly sensitive documents everywhere from bathrooms to ballrooms at his Florida resort, refusing to return them to the FBI and National Archives.
Trump's appearance at the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. U.S. Courthouse on Tuesday will mark his second appearance as a criminal defendant. He was also arraigned in a New York courthouse in April on charges of falsifying business records related to hush money payments.
Still, Tuesday's court appearance is likely to mark a new era in his winding political tenure as the charges levied against him grow in number and severity, all as he mounts a 2024 presidential reelection bid.