Former U.S. President Donald Trump appeared in a court in Miami, in the U.S. state of Florida Tuesday to face 37 federal charges.
The current presidential candidate told the judge in the case that he is not guilty of all charges. The charges are related to classified government documents that he took after leaving the White House.
After appearing in court and making his plea, the court released Trump with no restrictions on his movement.
The U.S. Justice Department says Trump ignored demands to return the documents and tried to hide them.
Government lawyers say the documents include top secret files on U.S. nuclear and defense programs. The charging document, called an indictment, said that the former president showed “classified documents to others” two times.
The indictment says that, once Trump was no longer president, he was not permitted to have or keep classified documents.
Of the 37 counts in the indictment, 31 of them relate to “willfully” holding national defense information. The other counts are related to a suspected conspiracy, obstruction and false statements.
The indictment says Trump conspired with Waltine Nauta, an assistant, to keep the documents and hide them. Nauta is also charged with making false statements to federal officials.
The government's legal action
U.S. special counsel Jack Smith is leading the government effort against Trump. Smith attended the hearing but made no statement.
On Friday, Smith said while announcing the charges, “We have one set of laws in this country, and they apply to everybody.” He added that Trump, like any defendant, must be considered innocent until proven guilty.
Smith noted that laws protect national defense information and are important to the safety and security of the United States. And Smith said his office would seek a speedy trial before a jury of Florida residents.
At Tuesday’s hearing, the judge ruled that Trump cannot talk with witnesses about the case, except through his lawyers.
After the hearing, Trump stopped by a bake shop where supporters sang “Happy Birthday” to him. Trump, who will turn 77 on Wednesday, said, “Some birthday… We’ve got a government that is out of control.”
Other actions against Trump
In March, a government lawyer in the state of New York charged Trump with 34 counts of criminally falsifying business documents. That indictment made Trump the first former president to face criminal charges.
In May, a jury in New York City found Trump guilty of sexual abuse and defamation of a writer E. Jean Carroll. The former president’s lawyers are seeking a new trial in that case.
Trump also faces investigations in Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, Georgia over the 2020 election dispute.
I’m Mario Ritter Jr.
Mario Ritter adapted this report for VOA Learning English from Associated Press and Reuters sources.
Words in This Story
plea –n. a defendant's answer to a lawsuit or to a criminal charge
obstruction –n. something that blocks action
apply –v. to have relation or a connection
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