After pledging not guilty at his arraignment in Miami, Florida, former US President Donald Trump has denied the federal allegations he is facing about his handling of secret documents.
37 counts of hiding and improper handling of secret documents have been brought against Trump.
Trump rejected the case and demanded that it be abandoned at a speech on Tuesday night from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. He said, “Today, we witnessed the most evil and heinous abuse of power in the history of our country.”
The former president, who is currently the front-runner among Republicans for the presidency of the United States in 2024, resorted to his usual grievances, painting the federal investigation as politically driven persecution and charging US President Joe Biden with attempting to thwart his bid.
Right in the middle of a presidential race, “a corrupt sitting president had his top political opponent arrested on false and fabricated charges of which he and numerous other presidents would be guilty,” Trump claimed.
A secret indictment against Trump that listed 37 criminal allegations, including 31 under the Espionage Act, was made public by the US Justice Department on Friday.
But in his meandering speech on Tuesday, Trump came out swinging, branding the investigation’s special counsel as “deranged” and labelling Justice Department prosecutors “thugs.”
In addition, despite demands and finally a subpoena to turn over sensitive documents to the National Archives, he did not dispute that he had done so.
The indictment claims that Trump and his staffer Waltine ‘Walt’ Nauta purposefully hid the secret documents, some of which included very sensitive national security information, and thwarted efforts to recover them.
In his speech, Trump may have laid out a legal defense he intends to use in court: “The decision to segregate personal materials from presidential records is made by the president during the president’s term and in the president’s sole discretion.”
The Justice Department contradicts Trump’s claims that he had a right to the classified records under the Presidential Records Act and that he declassified them before leaving office. He admitted in the indictment that he was aware that he had not released a document before his presidency ended.
“Trump is presenting a pretty compelling case in the court of public opinion, particularly for Republican supporters. He is an expert at creating the impression that he is a martyr, according to Feehery.