Donald Trump’s attorney says the former president will appear in court Tuesday to face federal charges in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case. Lawyer James Trusty told NBC, "He’s not afraid of this thing. It’s a ridiculous criminalization of a noncriminal dispute, so he’ll be there.”
Trusty called the indictment an “overreach,” saying that something that wasn’t criminal for previous presidents has been “weaponized” by the Department of Justice, reports the Associated Press. “He was upset for the country, but in terms of him, he’s a fighter and he’s gonna come out swinging and he’ll be fine,” Trusty said.
Trusty told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that the special counsel was “hell bent” on criminalizing something that lacks a criminal basis under the Presidential Records Act, putting “a stamp of reality on something that really is unreal.”
The charges against Trump include willfully retaining national defense secrets in violation of the Espionage Act, making false statements and a conspiracy to obstruct justice, the New York Times reports.
Judge Aileen Cannon, who Trump appointed to the bench in 2020, is scheduled to preside on Tuesday. Cannon was thrust into the spotlight when she issued what many legal experts saw as an extraordinary decision to approve a so-called special master to review the documents seized by the FBI. Critics the judge gave undue deference to the former president and and unnecessarily put on hold some investigative work by the Justice Department.
Cannon temporarily barred federal agents and prosecutors from reviewing a batch of classified documents seized during the Mar-a-Lago search. Her order was thrown out by a federal appeals court, which found she overstepped and ended the independent review of documents.
Federal authorities also charged a longtime Trump aide whose responsibilities included moving and carrying cardboard boxes of the former president’s mementos and papers, Trump said on social media Friday, the Washington Post reports.
Prosecutors have viewed Walt Nauta — a military valet in the Trump White House and now a personal aide to Trump — as a critical witness in the investigation into possible mishandling of classified government materials at Mar-a-Lago.
Democrats hailed the Trump charges. “Today’s federal grand jury indictment tells us that former President Donald Trump put our national security in grave danger as he pursued yet another lawless personal agenda by pilfering and hoarding government documents,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), House manager for Trump’s second impeachment.
Republicans blamed partisan politics. Trump rival Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis believes the Trump case is a "weaponization of federal law enforcement [that] represents a mortal threat to a free society. We have for years witnessed an uneven application of the law depending upon political affiliation,. Why so zealous in pursuing Trump yet so passive about Hillary or Hunter?” he said.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) tweeted that “it is unconscionable for a President to indict the leading candidate opposing him.” House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) used similar language, saying Biden "is weaponizing his Department of Justice against his own political rival.”