Trump pleads not guilty to classified documents charges

Former US President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty, as he faces dozens of felony counts of misappropriation of government documents

Former US President Donald Trump (Photo: NH File Photo)
Former US President Donald Trump (Photo: NH File Photo)


Donald Trump pleaded not guilty to federal criminal charges that he unlawfully kept national-security documents when he left office and lied to officials who sought to recover them.

The former US president is accused of hoarding top-secret government documents, showing them to visitors and attempting to hide them from investigators.

Trump leaves court after pleading not guilty

The former president left the courthouse on Tuesday and made an unannounced stop at a famous Cuban restaurant in Miami.

People crowded around Trump at the Versailles restaurant and sang birthday tributes to the president a day before he turns 77.

He will travel to New Jersey later Tuesday.

What to know about the federal indictment and the hearing

Trump faces 37 felony counts that accuse him of willfully retaining classified records that prosecutors say could have jeopardized national security if exposed. The case poses profound legal consequences given the prospect of a potential multi-year prison sentence.

The not guilty plea, entered before US Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman in a federal court in Miami, sets up a legal battle likely to play out over coming months as he campaigns to win back the presidency in a November 2024 election. Experts say it could be a year or more before a trial takes place.

The hearing was closed to cameras and live broadcasts. Trump's former aide Walt Nauta, also charged in the case, appeared in court as well.


Trump's arrival at the courthouse was a watershed moment for the US Justice Department that until last week had never before brought charges against a former president. The arraignment, though largely procedural in nature, is the latest in an unprecedented series of potential prosecutions of a former president.

The ex-president faces charges in New York arising from alleged hush money payments during his 2016 presidential campaign as well as ongoing investigations in Washington and Atlanta into efforts to meddle with the results of the 2020 race, where Trump lost out to Joe Biden.

How has Trump reacted to the charges?

The case is also laden with political implications for Trump who has maintained his innocence and described the case as an attempt to undermine his reelection efforts. The Republican politician has vowed to stay in the race regardless of the outcome of the documents case.

According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, he holds a wide lead over his rivals for the Republican Party nomination for the 2024 presidential election and 81% of Republican voters view the charges against him as politically motivated.

His devoted supporters had already begun hitting the streets on the eve of the hearing. Trump himself has encouraged them to join a planned protest outside the Miami courthouse.

Some Trump supporters were also planning to load buses to head to Miami from other parts of Florida, raising concerns for law enforcement officials who prepared for potential unrest around the courthouse.

What does indictment say?

The 37-count indictment includes violations of the Espionage Act, which criminalizes unauthorized possession of defense information, and conspiracy to obstruct justice, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

The indictment alleges Trump intentionally retained hundreds of classified documents that he took with him from the White House to his residence at Mar-a-Lago after leaving the presidency in January 2021.

The material he stored, including in a bathroom, ballroom, bedroom and shower, included material on nuclear programs, defense and weapons capabilities of the US and foreign governments, as well as a Pentagon "attack plan," the indictment says.

The information, if exposed, could have put at risk members of the military, confidential human sources and intelligence collection methods, prosecutors said.

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