Trump pleads ‘not guilty’ to classified document charges

Former US president Donald Trump. [File Photo]

Donald Trump pleaded not guilty to charges that he broke the law dozens of times by hiding classified documents in his Florida home as he was formally arraigned at a Miami court, becoming the first former US president to face federal criminal charges, PTI reported.

He was brought in about 15 minutes before the hearing began on Tuesday at the federal courthouse in Miami, Florida. His son Eric Trump, accompanied him to the courthouse for the historic case that could alter the country’s political and legal landscape ahead of the 2024 race for the White House.

Trump, who has announced his second bid for the presidency, looked down at the floor for most of the hearing and his lawyer waived a reading of the 49-page indictment, ABC News reported.

Federal prosecutors accused Trump, a Republican, of wilfully withholding classified documents obtained during his presidency and obstructing justice in his efforts to conceal those materials from authorities, as a detailed indictment unsealed on Friday.

The former president was charged with 37 federal counts, including 31 violations of the Espionage Act.

“We most certainly enter a plea of not guilty,” Trump’s lawyer Todd Blanche said at the arraignment in a small but packed courtroom, the news agency report said.

The first former US president to stand accused of federal crimes, Trump could be sentenced to years in prison if found guilty.

He publicly attacked special counsel Jack Smith, who is leading the investigation, in the hours before his court appearance, calling the veteran prosecutor a “thug” and a “lunatic” in social media posts.

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