Donald Trump pleads not guilty to new charges related to secret documents

Former President Donald Trump appears in court for his arraignment, Tuesday, April 4, 2023, in New York. (Timothy A. Clary/Pool Photo via AP)

Former President Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to three new charges related to his handling of US classified documents after he left the White House in 2021 — raising the total brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith in the case to 40.

The action against Trump on Friday came a day after he appeared in federal court in Washington to plead not guilty to four charges brought in a separate investigation led by Smith that alleged that Trump orchestrated an illegal plot to try to overturn his 2020 election loss.

Trump, the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, also waived his right to be present in Florida federal court for his arraignment on the three additional charges on August 10, a court filing showed.

The new charges against Trump in the documents case include an additional count for unlawful retention of national defence information and two more counts of obstruction of justice.

Trump appeared in federal court in Miami on June 13 to plead not guilty to 37 charges that he unlawfully kept the national security documents — including details about the US nuclear program and military plans — and lied to officials who sought to recover them. He entered his latest pleas in a written filing.

His valet, Walt Nauta, is also facing new charges, and prosecutors added a third defendant and another Trump employee, Carlos De Oliveira, to the case in a superseding indictment last week.

The charges against Nauta and De Oliveira include concealing documents, conspiracy to obstruct justice and false statements.

It was unclear on Friday whether Nauta and De Oliveira would be present in court to enter their pleas on August 10. Their lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

'Targeting for political reasons'

Trump has proclaimed his innocence and has accused Democratic President Joe Biden's administration of targeting him for political reasons.

He has called Smith, who was appointed by US Attorney General Merrick Garland in November to lead the documents and 2020 election investigations, a "Trump hater."

The judge in the documents case has scheduled the trial to begin next May, though that could change.

Opinion polls show Trump, who served as president from 2017 to 2021, with a large lead over a crowded field of candidates for his party's 2024 nomination as he seeks a rematch with Biden, who defeated him in 2020.

Prosecutors accused Trump of taking hundreds of documents containing the nation's most closely held secrets and storing them haphazardly at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.

Trump at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey also showed classified information to people who were not authorised to see it, according to the indictment.

Barrage of charges

Trump faces charges that include violations of the Espionage Act, which criminalises unauthorised possession of defence information, and conspiracy to obstruct justice, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Nauta and De Oliveira, property managers at Mar-a-Lago, are accused of trying to hide the documents from federal investigators seeking their return and attempting to destroy evidence, including security camera footage.

Trump in April became the first sitting or former US president to face criminal charges when he was indicted in New York state court, accused of falsifying business records to conceal hush money payments to a porn star ahead of the 2016 US election. He pleaded not guilty in that case as well.

He was indicted for the third time on Tuesday in Washington federal court regarding his efforts to overturn his 2020 loss to Biden.

Prosecutors in Fulton County, Georgia are also probing Trump's efforts to reverse his 2020 election loss in that state and are expected to announce a charging decision by August 18.


Source: TRT