By Editor-June 13th, 2023.
Former US President Donald J. Trump makes his first court appearance today in a historic criminal case where he stands accused of taking top-secret government documents from the White House to his home in Florida when he left office, and jeopardising national security.
The Justice Department’s first ever prosecution of a former president in the United States’ history carries the possibility of a prison sentence that could amount to several years.
Trump landed in Florida around 3pm (19:00 GMT) on Monday and is expected to appear in federal court in Miami at 3pm on Tuesday.
A 49-page indictment unsealed last week charged Trump with 37 felony counts, 31 relating to the wilful retention of national defence information. Other charges include conspiracy to commit obstruction and false statements.
Trump is accused of unlawfully and haphazardly stacking dozens of sensitive national-security files in his Mar-a-Lago Florida estate when he left office in 2021, refusing to return them and conspiring to obstruct investigators seeking to recover them.
He is also charged with sharing sensitive US secrets with people who had no security clearance, in a much more serious case than any he has previously faced.
Evidence also includes photographs showing boxes that were supposed to be in the National Archives stacked at in a ballroom and in a toilet and shower at his beachfront house.
Prosecutors say Trump later sought to obstruct government efforts to recover the documents, including by directing personal aide Walt Nauta – who was charged alongside Trump – to move boxes to conceal them and also suggesting to his own lawyer that he hide or destroy documents sought by a Justice Department subpoena.