Donald Trump pleaded not guilty Tuesday to the first federal charges ever filed against a U.S. president, former or current, hours before he delivered a grievance-packed speech to a cheering crowd of political donors at his New Jersey golf club.
Trump turned himself in at a Miami federal courthouse in the afternoon and was booked on the second set of criminal charges he has faced this year. The leading 2024 Republican presidential candidate was arraigned and pleaded not guilty to 37 counts related to allegations that he kept hundreds of classified documents after he left the White House and resisted efforts to return them to federal recordkeepers.
Trump is charged with willful retention of national defense information; conspiracy to obstruct justice; withholding a document or record; corruptly concealing a document or record; concealing a document in a federal investigation; scheme to conceal; and false statements and representations.
Trump aide and co-defendant Walt Nauta was initially expected to be arraigned Tuesday, but he did not enter a plea as he did not have a local lawyer. He arrived at the courthouse with Trump, surrendered and was booked. As a condition of Trump and Nauta's release, the pair will not be allowed to contact one another.
The former president left the courthouse late Tuesday afternoon to head to his Bedminster, New Jersey, property for a presidential campaign fundraiser on the eve of his 77th birthday. He delivered a speech full of attacks and threats targeting President Joe Biden, Justice Department prosecutors and his other enemies. A Fox News chyron echoed Trump's unfounded claims, calling Biden, who was speaking at a Juneteenth celebration Tuesday night at the White House, a "wannabe dictator."
Tuesday marked the second time in a little over two months that Trump was arraigned on criminal charges. He pleaded not guilty in April to 34 counts of falsifying business records. Those allegations stem from a Manhattan district attorney probe into a payment made to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election to buy her silence about an alleged sexual tryst with Trump years earlier.
The former president faces more possible legal exposure beyond the two charged cases. Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith, who brought charges against Trump in the documents probe, is also investigating efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn President Joe Biden's 2020 election win.
Fani Willis, the district attorney in the Atlanta-area Fulton County, is also probing Trump's scheme to reverse Biden's 2020 victory in Georgia.
Trump will wade through the legal fights as he holds a commanding lead in early polls of the 2024 GOP presidential primary. Republicans have largely defended the former president's conduct and accused the Justice Department of running a politically motivated probe. Attorney General Merrick Garland, a Biden appointee, chose Smith to oversee the investigation to avoid an appearance of conflict of interest.
— CNBC's Amanda Macias and Mike Calia contributed
Trump vows to 'go after' Biden with special prosecutor
Former President Trump delivered a series of familiar campaign talking points and grievances Tuesday night in his first speech since pleading not guilty to federal criminal charges.
He delivered an extended diatribe against special counsel Jack Smith, who oversaw the federal probe into Trump's post-presidency retention of classified documents that led to his indictment on 37 counts. He also asserted that he had the legal right to keep those records, while claiming that he was being treated unfairly by a politically motivated Justice Department that has not gone after his political opponents in the same way.
Yet Trump also vowed that, if elected in 2024, he would appoint his own special prosecutor to "go after" President Joe Biden.
Legal experts have been quick to point out that Trump's case, which involves alleged violations of the Espionage Act and alleged conspiracy to obstruct the government, differs significantly from other instances of politicians holding onto records after leaving office.
"They ought to drop this case immediately," Trump said to the crowd that had gathered at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club.
While he spent much of his speech raging against his latest legal threat, Trump also touched on some of the policy lines that he has regularly deployed on the campaign trail. He vowed to close the U.S.-Mexico border and "immediately" end Russia's war against Ukraine.
The former president, who has now been indicted twice since announcing his 2024 White House bid, appeared poised to return to the campaign trail as soon as he left the Miami federal courthouse. Trump's motorcade stopped at a well-known restaurant for a surprise meet-and-greet with a friendly crowd before he traveled back to Bedminster for a campaign-style event before an even bigger crowd of supporters.
The evening also included a campaign fundraiser expected to raise several million dollars. Trump has peppered his supporters with fundraising appeals since Thursday night, when he revealed he had been indicted on federal charges in the documents case.
— Kevin Breuninger
Trump claims he didn't get 'a chance' to go through boxes
Former President Donald Trump claimed that hundreds of classified documents seized from his Florida resort belonged to him, and that he had not been given enough time to go through his personal papers and separate out the classified documents.
Speaking after pleading not guilty on 3