Trump, through his attorney Todd Blanche, pleaded not guilty to all charges at the arraignment hearing in Miami on Tuesday afternoon. Shortly after leaving the courthouse, the ex-president’s motorcade made a pit stop at Cafe Versailles, a popular Cuban restaurant in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood.
Trump supporters, pre-screened by the Secret Service, applauded and serenaded the former president with a rendition of “Happy Birthday” upon his arrival. The ex-president, who turns 77 on Wednesday, then briefly addressed reporters. He maintained that his life was “going great” before lamenting that the country was “in decline” due to his indictment.
“I think it is a rigged deal here,” Trump said. “We have a rigged country, we have a country that is corrupt. We have a country that’s got no borders, we have a country that’s got nothing but problems. We’re a nation in decline. And then they do this stuff.”
“We have a country that is in decline like never before,” he continued. “And we can’t let it happen.”
The former president went on to tease “a little speech” that he was scheduled to deliver at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, later on Tuesday night, while inviting a person in the South Florida crowd to “come, too, if you want.”
Walt Nauta, Trump’s valet and co-defendant, was accompanying the former president during his brief visit to the restaurant. Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman, who presided over the arraignment, ordered Trump to not discuss any issues related to the trial with Nauta.
A short time after his restaurant visit, Trump thanked his Miami supporters for “such a warm welcome on such a SAD DAY for our Country” in a Truth Social post.
Trump, who argues that his legal woes are the result of a “witch hunt,” has frequently argued that he is the victim of a “rigged” system, often repeating the false claim he lost the White House to President Joe Biden due to a “rigged” election in 2020.
However, neither Trump nor his allies have produced any credible evidence to substantiate the former president’s claim of massive voter fraud in the more than 2 1/2 years since the contest ended.
The ex-president reportedly did not utter a word during the entire arraignment hearing on Tuesday, leaving his defense in the hands of his diminished legal team, Blanche and fellow lawyer Chris Kise.
Less than 24 hours after news of Trump’s indictment emerged last week, the former president’s attorneys Jim Trusty and John Rowley abruptly resigned. Several other lawyers declined to take their places, according to a report from The Guardian.
Trump praised Trusty and Rowley in a Truth Social post after their resignations, while announcing that Blanche would be taking over the classified documents case.
“I want to thank Jim Trusty and John Rowley for their work,” Trump wrote. “But they were up against a very dishonest, corrupt, evil, and ‘sick’ group of people, the likes of which has not been seen before.”
If convicted of all charges, Trump could be facing a maximum combined sentence of decades, or even hundreds of years, behind bars. He is also facing 34 state felony counts of falsifying business records in New York.
Along with the classified documents case, Special Counsel Jack Smith was charged with investigating Trump’s attempts to overturn his loss in the 2020 presidential election and his activities surrounding the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. That part of Smith’s investigation is ongoing and could result in additional federal charges.
The Department of Justice declined comment when contacted by Newsweek.
Published: 2023-06-13 23:19:43