Trump Set for Post-Indictment Events 06/10 08:22
ATLANTA (AP) -- Former President Donald Trump will make his first public
appearances since his federal indictment, speaking on Saturday to friendly
Republican audiences in Georgia and North Carolina as he seeks to rally
supporters to his defense.
Trump, who remains the front-runner for the 2024 GOP nomination despite his
mounting legal woes, is expected to use his scheduled speeches at state party
conventions in the two states to deliver a full-throated rebuke of the charges
and amplify his assertions that he is the victim of a politically motivated
"witch hunt" by Democratic President Joe Biden's Justice Department.
His appearances will come a day after the unsealing of an indictment
charging him with 37 felony counts in connection with his hoarding of
classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate. The indictment accuses the
former president of willfully defying Justice Department demands to return
classified documents, enlisting aides in his efforts to hide the records and
even telling his lawyers that he wanted to defy a subpoena for the materials
stored at his estate. The indictment includes allegations that he stored
documents in a ballroom and bathroom at his resort, among other places.
The most serious charges against him carry potential prison sentences of up
to 20 years each, but first-time offenders rarely get anywhere near the maximum
sentence and the decision would ultimately be up to the judge.
For all that, Trump can expect a hero's welcome this weekend as he rallies
his fiercest partisans and seeks to cement his status as Republicans' leading
2024 presidential candidate.
"Trump is a fighter, and the kinds of people that attend these conventions
love a fighter," said Jack Kingston, a former Georgia congressman who supported
Trump in 2016 and 2020.
With former Vice President Mike Pence also slated to address North Carolina
Republicans, Saturday will be the first time the former running mates have
appeared at the same venue since Pence announced his campaign against his old
For his part, Trump has insisted he committed no wrongdoing, saying, "There
was no crime, except for what the DOJ and FBI have been doing against me for
The indictment arrives at a time when Trump is continuing to dominate the
Republican presidential primary. Other GOP candidates have largely attacked the
Justice Department -- rather than Trump -- for the investigation, although the
indictment's breadth of allegations and scope could make it harder for
Republicans to rail against than an earlier New York criminal case that many
legal analysts had derided as weak.
A Trump campaign official described the former president's mood as "defiant"
Friday ahead of his trip. But aides were notably more reserved after the
indictment's unsealing as they reckoned with the gravity of the legal charges
and the threat they pose to Trump beyond the potential short-term political
The federal charging document alleges that Trump not only intentionally
possessed classified documents but also boastfully showed them off to visitors
and aides. The indictment is built on Trump's own words and actions as
recounted to prosecutors by lawyers, close aides and other witnesses, including
his professing to respect and know procedures related to the handling of
The indictment includes 37 counts -- 31 of which pertain to the willful
retention of national defense information, with the balance relating to alleged
conspiracy, obstruction and false statements -- that, taken together, could
result in a yearslong prison sentence.
Trump is due to make his first federal court appearance Tuesday in Miami. He
was charged alongside Walt Nauta, a personal aide whom prosecutors say moved
boxes from a storage room to Trump's residence for him to review and later lied
to investigators about the movement. A photograph included in the indictment
shows several dozen file boxes stacked in a storage area.
The case adds to deepening legal jeopardy for Trump, who has already been
indicted in New York in a hush money scheme and faces additional investigations
in Washington and Atlanta that also could lead to criminal charges. But among
the various investigations he has faced, the Mar-a-Lago probe has long been
considered the most perilous threat and the one most ripe for prosecution.
Campaign aides had been bracing for the fallout since Trump's attorneys were
notified that he was the target of the investigation, assuming it was not a
matter of if charges would be brought, but when.
Trump's continued popularity among Republican voters is evident in how
gingerly his primary rivals have treated the federal indictment, which comes
less than three months after he was charged in New York in a hush-money scheme
stemming from payouts made to a porn actor during his 2016 campaign.
Pence, campaigning in New Hampshire on Friday, said he was "deeply troubled"
that Trump had been federally indicted because he believes it will further
divide the nation.
Pence urged his audience to pray for Trump, his family and all Americans,
and promised to uphold the rule of law and "clean house at the highest level"
of the Department of Justice, if elected.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Trump's leading GOP rival, unabashedly echoed the
former president, decrying the "weaponization of federal law enforcement" and
"an uneven application of the law." Without offering any specific allegation,
DeSantis took aim at two favorite Republican targets -- Hillary Clinton and
Biden's son, Hunter -- and suggested they have escaped federal accountability
because of such "political bias."
During his own remarks at the North Carolina GOP convention on Friday night,
DeSantis didn't mention Trump by name but again made the comparison to Clinton.
"Is there a different standard for a Democratic secretary of state versus a
former Republican president?" DeSantis asked. "I think there needs to be one
standard of justice in this country. ... At the end of the day, we will once
and for all end the weaponization of government under my administration."
Among the declared Republican contenders, only Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson
had explicitly called for Trump to end his comeback bid.