DORAL, FL – Donald Trump pleaded not guilty on Tuesday in Miami where he was booked and escorted into a 13th floor courtroom. According to reporters covering the hearing, he looked constantly frustrated and was seated with his arms crossed while defending himself over the 37 charges that were presented last week by the special counsel, Jack Smith.
The former president was indicted on federal charges for mishandling classified documents found at his Mar-A-Lago property, and for allegedly lying and obstructing when federal officials tried to collect them.
“We most certainly enter a plea of not guilty,” Trump lawyer Todd Blanche said in court while spectators and supporters gathered outside the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. U.S. Courthouse in Downtown Miami despite the high temperatures Miami is dealing with today.
In response to his supporters, the defendant politician said he would “never drop out of the 2024 presidential race” in an email. According to reports, his statement suggests the Justice Department might drop the charges against him if he did.
“They can indict me, they can arrest me, but I know … that I am an innocent man,” Trump wrote.
Walt Nauta, Trump’s valet, also appeared before the Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman, who oversaw Tuesday’s hearing, but did not enter a plea. Instead, his lawyer asked for a two-week extension due to needing a local lawyer to sponsor him.
After his first court appearance, Trump is expected to travel back to his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he will deliver a statement.
This is the first time a former president has been indicted on federal charges in the history of the United States. He has also been indicted by a state-level grand jury in New York City for allegedly falsifying business records related to hush money payments to an adult-film star from 2016 and has other investigations pending in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol and the 2020 election in Georgia.