Former US President Donald Trump arrives at Miami International Airport in Miami on June 12, 2023.
Win Mcnamee | Getty Images
WASHINGTON – Former President Donald Trump landed in Miami on Monday afternoon, a day before he is expected to make his first court appearance federal fees that he had deliberately retained a trove of documents that contained some of the nation’s most sensitive military secrets.
But without a local attorney to represent him in court, Tuesday’s appearance could be cut short, sources familiar with the matter told NBC News. In that case, Trump would go to the courthouse to surrender, but his impeachment and plea may be delayed, according to NBC.
As of 5:00 p.m. EST Monday, Trump and his co-defendant and personal butler, Walt Nauta, had yet to name a lawyer who had been admitted to his case before a judge in the Southern District of Florida, according to a court filing.
Watch our live broadcast Impeachment of Donald Trump in the case of classified documents.
The two lead attorneys who represented Trump in the case resigned On Friday, just one day after Trump announced he had been impeached.
“For the purpose of fighting the Greatest Witch Hunt of All Time, which now moves to the Florida courts, I will be represented by Todd Blanche, Esq. and a firm to be named at a later date,” Trump said on social media on Friday.
Blanche, who resides in New York, is not a member of the Southern District of Florida Bar. A direct source later told NBC that Blanche traveled to Florida with Trump. While it’s unclear whether another lawyer will join the former president on Tuesday, judges sometimes allow attorneys who are not admitted in their district to represent a defendant in court hearings.
The 2024 Republican presidential nominee faces a 37-count federal indictment filed last week by special counsel Jack Smith. The charges are the first time a former US president has been charged with a federal crime.
Trump traveled to Florida from his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey. It was unclear whether his wife, former first lady Melania Trump, would join him on Tuesday.
Trump did not speak to reporters or cameras located along his route Monday, but has repeatedly posted on his social media platform, Truth Social.
There, he pledged that if elected to a second term in 2024, he would appoint “a real ‘special’ prosecutor to go after his successor, President Joe Biden, and ‘everyone else involved’ in what Trump called ‘ by destroying our elections, borders and the country itself.”
Trump’s call for revenge came amid several other posts criticizing what he called the “weaponization” of the justice system.
Trump has also publicly taken shots at Republicans who have not endorsed him, particularly Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, who over the weekend endorsed 2024 Florida Gov. hopeful Ron DeSantis.
Preparations were underway in Miami on Monday for any protests or counter-protests outside the courthouse on Tuesday.
Some Republican lawmakers called for people to gather in Miami. But as of Monday evening, the FBI had not issued a specific threat notification for the event or identified a possible danger to the public.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said the city and state have taken a unified command approach, pooling resources and intelligence with federal agents and the U.S. Secret Service, which is responsible for the security of current and former presidents.
Miami Police Chief Manny Morales told reporters that his officers were bringing enough resources to “handle crowds of 5,000 to 50,000.” He said he doesn’t expect any problems.
Trump is scheduled to return to New Jersey Tuesday afternoon after his court appearance. AND birthday campaign fundraiser is scheduled for Tuesday night, where Trump is expected to deliver remarks.
Trump insists he has committed no crimes. The most serious of the charges are 31 counts of intentionally withholding national defense information, a violation of the law Espionage Act. The other six counts allege that Trump made false statements, attempted to conceal or withhold documents from investigators, or conspired to obstruct justice.
The 49-page federal indictment was painstakingly detailed, with photos showing dozens of boxes of presidential documents Trump took with him when he left the White House in 2021.
The National Archives and Records Administration then spent more than a year trying to get Trump and his lawyers to return the records, which included battle plans, nuclear capabilities and other highly sensitive military intelligence.
But Trump repeatedly refused to turn over reams of documents and ordered Nauto to hide them from investigators, who came armed with subpoenas, the indictment alleges.
The boxes were later revealed to contain hundreds of classified documents, some of which were seized only after the FBI raided Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida in 2022.
According to the indictment, “the unauthorized release of these classified documents could jeopardize the national security of the United States, foreign relations, the security of the United States military and human resources, and the continued viability of sensitive intelligence gathering methods.”