Donald Trump lands in Miami ahead of historic court appearance

Former US President Donald Trump will take to the witness stand tomorrow, accused of hoarding classified documents, ITV News US Correspondent Dan Rivers explains the fallout

Donald Trump has arrived in Florida ahead of a history-making federal court appearance where he is accused of illegally hoarding classified documents and preventing efforts to get them back.                                    

The former US president landed in Miami around 3pm on Monday and got into a waiting four-wheel drive.

Mr Trump's appearance in a Miami courtroom is the second time he has been charged this year. In April he faced charges arising from hush money payments made during his 2016 presidential campaign.

This time his charges - that could carry a prison sentence - concern conduct that prosecutors say jeopardised national security.

Ahead of his court date, the former president and his allies have been escalating efforts to undermine the criminal case against him, ratcheting up the rhetoric against the Justice Department special counsel who filed the case.

Mr Trump has encouraged supporters to join a planned protest at the Miami courthouse on Tuesday, where he will face the charges and surrender to authorities.

"We need strength in our country now," Mr Trump said on Sunday, speaking to longtime friend and adviser Roger Stone in an interview on WABC Radio. "And they have to go out and they have to protest peacefully. They have to go out."

"Look, our country has to protest. We have plenty to protest. We've lost everything," he went on.

He also said there were no circumstances "whatsoever" under which he would leave the 2024 race, where he has been dominating the Republican primary.

After his court appearance on Tuesday, he will return to New Jersey, where he has scheduled a press event to publicly respond to the charges. He will also be holding a private fundraiser.

A police officer tries to move a demonstrators back from outside Trump National Doral resort. Credit: AP

Mr Trump supporters were also planning to load buses to head to Miami from other parts of Florida, raising concerns for law enforcement officials who are preparing for the potential of unrest around the courthouse.

The Justice Department unsealed an indictment charging Mr Trump with 37 felony counts, 31 relating to the willful retention of national defence information, on Friday.

Other charges include conspiracy to commit obstruction and false statements.

The indictment alleges Mr Trump intentionally retained hundreds of classified documents       that he took with him from the White House to his Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago, after leaving the White House in January 2021.

Boxed of records stored on the stage in the White and Gold Ballroom at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate. Credit: AP

The material he stored in a bathroom, ballroom, bedroom and shower, included material on nuclear programmes, defence and weapons capabilities of the US and foreign governments and a Pentagon "attack plan," the indictment says.

The information, if exposed, could have put at risk members of the military, confidential human sources and intelligence collection methods, prosecutors said.            

Beyond that, prosecutors say, he sought to obstruct government efforts to recover the documents, including by directing personal aide Walt Nauta - who was charged alongside Mr Trump - to move boxes to conceal them and also suggesting to his own lawyer that he hide or destroy documents sought by a Justice Department subpoena.

Some fellow Republicans have sought to press the case that Trump is being treated unfairly,   citing the Justice Department's decision in 2016 to not charge Democrat Hillary Clinton for her handling of classified information through a private email server she relied on as secretary of state.

But those arguments overlook that FBI investigators did not find any evidence that Mrs Clinton or her aides had willfully broken laws regarding classified information or had obstructed the investigation.                                    

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