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Donald Trump Pleads Not Guilty To Felony Charges

Former U.S. President Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to thirty-seven count charges of a felony in connection with his handling of classified documents and alleged attempts to prevent the government from recovering them.

This marks the first time an American president has been charged with a federal crime.

“We most certainly enter a plea of not guilty,” Trump’s attorney Todd Blanche told federal Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman, who oversaw the arraignment.

Trump was released on self-recognition, wasn’t asked to surrender his passport, and is still allowed to travel internationally, according to news reports.

Goodman ordered Trump not to discuss the case with his personal aide and co-defendant Walt Nauta or witnesses.

It was not immediately clear whether the date of his next hearing had been set.

After a year-long investigation, the Justice Department on Friday unsealed the indictment of the former president, charging that he improperly took classified documents when his presidency ended and obstructed the government’s efforts to retrieve hundreds of secret documents – some of them related to U.S. nuclear weapons operations and national defense vulnerabilities.

The indictment states that Trump kept them in unsecured areas of his Florida estate, including a bathroom, ballroom, and storage room.

The Mar-a-Lago property is a private club that hosts thousands of people each year.

According to the indictment, top-secret and other classified records the FBI recovered after a subpoena and a search of the property included details on U.S. and foreign nations’ nuclear and other defense and weapons capabilities, potential vulnerabilities of the U.S. and its allies to military attack, and plans for possible retaliation in response to such an attack.

The indictment also details two instances in which Trump discussed and showed classified documents to people who did not have security clearances.

Trump is charged with willful retention of national defense information, conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding documents or records, corruptly concealing documents in a federal investigation, scheming to conceal, and making false statements and representations.

In a Truth Social post hours before his appearance, Trump called Smith a “thug” and accused him, his friends, and his family of planting evidence in the case.

Trump also questioned why Smith had not reviewed allegations against President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which Smith doesn’t have the authority to review.

Nauta faces charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding documents or records, corruptly concealing documents in a federal investigation, scheming to conceal, and making false statements and representations.

His arraignment was delayed for several weeks after he was unable to secure local counsel.

This is the second time this spring that Trump has been in court to enter a not-guilty plea.

He was indicted in New York City in March on charges related to an alleged hush money payment made to a porn actor in the final days of the 2016 campaign.

He also faces two ongoing criminal probes into his role in the 2020 election interference.

The magistrate judge refused a request by media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, to allow photos and videos of the unprecedented proceedings.

Chief U.S. Judge for Southern District of Florida Cecilia Altonaga separately banned reporters from carrying any electronics into the courtroom.

Outside the courthouse, supporters of the former president chanted, “Free Donald Trump!” and “USA!” while waving “Make America Great Again” flags.

Opponents held up signs that read, “Trump, you are not above the law” and “31 counts of espionage; lock him up!”

(tca/dpa/NAN)

Wahab Akinlade

Akinlade I. WAHAB is a dedicated journalist and the proprietor of I-WAHAB Media. He embarked on his career at Murhi International TV (MiTV) and subsequently joined Radio Nigeria as a Judicial Correspondent.With a profound interest in legal reporting, he currently holds the positions of Chairman at the National Association of Judicial Correspondents (NAJUC), Ikeja Branch, and Chairman at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Radio Nigeria Chapel.As the owner of I-WAHAB Media, he has successfully established Top Court News, a platform renowned for providing comprehensive coverage of court cases and legal developments, with the aim of promoting transparency within the judicial system.Akinlade's diligent work and unwavering commitment to ethical reporting have earned him immense respect within the Nigerian journalism community.

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