IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.
Last updated

Takeaways: Trump pleads not guilty in classified documents case

Here’s what you need to know after the former president made his initial court appearance in Miami after a federal grand jury indicted him last week on 37 counts.

What to know

  • Donald Trump pleaded not guilty during his initial court appearance in Miami after his indictment in special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation. Trump aide Walt Nauta, who also has been indicted, appeared alongside the former president in federal court.
  • A federal grand jury indicted Trump on 37 counts related to withholding national defense information and making false statements to the FBI. You can read the indictment here and an annotated version here.
  • Trump spoke to supporters for a half-hour Tuesday night at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
12d ago / 2:11 AM UTC

Trump keeps pretending like he didn’t start this

During his remarks tonight, Trump insisted that “we’ve gotta get tough” in response to the prosecution against him. “Now that the seal is broken — the seal is broken by what they’ve done; they should never have done this. This was an unwritten rule — unless it’s really bad,” he said. Trump promised that if he’s elected president again, he’ll appoint a “real” special prosecutor to go after Biden, his family “and all others involved in the destruction of our elections, our borders, and our country itself.”

This is absolutely wild on several levels. First, think about how broad that statement from Trump was. This was him promising to appoint a special prosecutor to target literally everyone who disagrees with him or could be seen as a political rival. That includes people who disagreed with him about whether the 2020 election was stolen, people who disagree with his inhumane immigration policy, and anyone who in wanting to move America forward is seen as a threat to the people who form Trump’s base. 

More immediately, by invoking the idea that a seal has been “broken” with his prosecution, Trump is attempting to erase the fact that one of his 2016 campaign’s unofficial slogans was “Lock Her Up.” He has been calling for the arrest and prosecution of his political enemies for years, and there were numerous attempts while he was in office to push his attorneys general to go after the Bidens and the Clintons. It is only because of the professionalism of the people at the Justice Department — a trait that he says does not exist because he is the one now being prosecuted — that none of those calls have been heeded. Even so, there in fact have been multiple investigations opened into the Clinton Foundation, Hunter Biden and Biden’s possession of classified documents

Justice is not what Donald Trump makes it to be, no matter how much he has attempted to manifest that into reality. In tonight’s speech, he has once again shown that he is more than willing to unleash the full force of the government on the people who disagree with him. As so often is the case with him, he justifies this authoritarian streak through projection, telling his supporters that this is the way of the world and that rather than his thirst for vengeance being the outlier, he is only responding to the attacks against him.

If a seal has actually been broken with the first criminal indictments against a former president, it is only because he himself loosened it. It is because of his own actions that he is the one facing conviction while his rivals do not. Conversely, it is because of his own onslaught of animus against his enemies that his audience is primed to believe that he is the real victim here.

12d ago / 1:35 AM UTC

This very real screenshot of Fox News says volumes

This is a screenshot of a chyron — aka the text in all caps at the bottom of your screen — that aired on Fox News tonight just before 9 p.m. ET.

Here’s another angle so you can see that, yes, this is real.

I don’t know if this was something that was signed off on by the producers of the time slot that used to belong to Tucker Carlson, or something that a rogue production assistant managed to get on air. Either way, it says a lot about the state of play in this country, where a very large segment of the population will look at that and think: “Wow, what an accurate bit of analysis and commentary.”

12d ago / 1:27 AM UTC

Why Trump keeps bringing up Cuba and Venezuela

During his speech, Trump talked about how his indictment was an example of how the U.S. is becoming like Cuba and Venezuela, emphasizing those two countries very specifically. That comes after his lawyer slash spokesperson did the same during a quick statement outside of the federal courthouse in Miami where her client was being arraigned.

That’s not an accident. Trump’s case is being held in Southern Florida, home to generations of exiles who fled communist Cuba and their descendants and more recent arrivals who escaped the economic collapse of Venezuela. This group has both been a particular fount of support for the anti-communist wing of the GOP and a wellspring of support for Trump over the years. From overturning the Obama-era rapprochement with Cuba to publicly mulling military options against Venezuela, he has been pandering to this community for ages.

Now leaning in even harder, it appears that Trump is attempting to get that community — whose Miami residents may be called upon to serve on a jury in his case — to back him in his latest legal struggle. And as NBC News’ Chuck Todd said during “Meet The Press Daily” earlier today, it’s astounding that people whose forebears sought refuge in a place where the rule of law meant something are now cheering for the exact opposite.

12d ago / 1:11 AM UTC

Instead of listening to Trump, read this from the National Archives

Confession: I missed the beginning of Trump’s Bedminster remarks since our network isn’t showing them live. Quickly, though, I realized that he was on another tear, lying about the Presidential Records Act, how it works, and how it applies to the documents that were in his possession after he left office.

So maybe instead of listening to him lying about how Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden did the same as him or worse, maybe go read what the National Archives and Records Administration had to say on the matter. The full explainer is a savage rebuttal of Trump’s talking points about the documents. 

12d ago / 1:10 AM UTC

Maddow: ‘We are here to bring you the news’

12d ago / 12:44 AM UTC

Trump has arrived at Bedminster

12d ago / 12:31 AM UTC

Pence is still trying to split the difference

Last week, in the liminal space between news of Trump’s indictment and the document becoming public, former Vice President Mike Pence tried to both advocate for the rule of law and not alienate Trump’s supporters too badly. He demanded loudly and publicly that the Justice Department unseal the indictment so that the American people could see what’s inside. He insisted that “nobody is above the rule of law” — but also railed against the “Russia hoax.” 

Having now read the indictment, Pence was still trying to split the difference during in an interview with The Wall Street Journal

“Having read the indictment,” the former Veep says, “these are very serious allegations. And I can’t defend what is alleged. But the President is entitled to his day in court, he’s entitled to bring a defense, and I want to reserve judgment until he has the opportunity to respond.”

He added:

“The suggestion that there were documents pertaining to the defense capabilities of the United States and our allies, our nuclear program, to potential vulnerabilities of the United States and our allies . . . ” Mr. Pence says. “Even the inadvertent release of that kind of information could compromise our national security and the safety of our armed forces. And, frankly, having two members of our immediate family serving in the armed forces of the United States, I will never diminish the importance of protecting our nation’s secrets.”

That’s great — until Pence goes back to the same old talking points about how the Justice Department can’t be trusted anymore and that Hillary Clinton never faced indictment “for very similar behavior.” (It was not similar behavior.) It’s a sad commentary on the state of the GOP that Pence feels that this whataboutism is necessary in order to critique Trump’s actions, especially when this balancing act is trying to equivocate between things that are true and things that are demonstrably false.

12d ago / 12:09 AM UTC

Why the protest size matters

The lack of a large pro-Trump protest today felt rather familiar, as such a gathering also failed to materialize at Trump’s arraignment in New York two months ago.

But it seemed different, too. As my MSNBC colleague Zeeshan Aleem wrote tonight, it’s a “clear sign of weakness for the authoritarian populist” — and an indication that the 2024 GOP presidential front-runner “lacks the level of command over his base that’s needed to survive such an unprecedented political scandal.” 

Read Zeeshan’s full column below.

12d ago / 11:49 PM UTC

Tommy Tuberville missed the GOP’s play call

Among the attendees of Trump’s pending Bedminster diatribe is Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala.

The former college football coach flew to New Jersey this afternoon but in doing so totally stepped on the Senate GOP leadership’s plans for the day. See, the Senate was voting today to advance the nomination of Jared Bernstein to be the new head of Biden’s head of the Council of Economic Advisers. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., had already come out against Bernstein, so the idea was that Vice President Kamala Harris would have to come to the Senate to break the tie — but when the time came for the cloture vote, Tuberville was nowhere to be found.

The vote passed 50-49, showcasing an absolute lack of clock management skills from the onetime coach.

12d ago / 11:26 PM UTC

Watch this space

12d ago / 11:06 PM UTC

Reminder: Trump’s PAC is paying Walt Nauta’s lawyer

One question that kept coming up during today’s arraignment is: How closely are Trump’s and Nauta’s legal teams coordinating?

As Lisa Rubin noted earlier, Todd Blanche — one of Trump’s lawyers — was frequently whispering not just to his own client but also to Nauta and his lawyer. That’s weird considering that while they are co-defendants, they aren’t technically sharing a legal team.

That caveat is because Nauta is represented by Brand Woodward Law, whose fees are being paid by Trump’s Save America PAC, The Washington Post reported last year. That arrangement came under scrutiny given Nauta’s then-role as a witness before becoming uncooperative when prosecutors realized he was being less than forthcoming. The fact that Trump’s political operation was paying his legal costs seemed — and seems — like a pretty solid way to ensure that he stay loyal to his boss. That loyalty seems to have gotten him indicted — and left him with a lawyer who couldn’t even enter a “not guilty” plea for him at today’s hearing.

12d ago / 10:46 PM UTC

Maybe we’ve learned some lessons about Trump after all

While Trump was busy yukking it up with fans at a Miami restaurant, two cable news anchors had enough.

MSNBC’s own Nicolle Wallace called for the control room to cut away from Trump so that she could focus on the questions about what comes next to NBC News reporter Garrett Haake: 

A few minutes later, Jake Tapper matched that energy over on CNN: 

Not to be too self-congratulatory but as a member of The Media, it’s been frustrating over the years to see how much time and attention Trump has commanded on the airwaves. That’s especially true when he’s either busy lying or, as I wrote earlier, trying to showcase that he’s doing just dandy despite being under federal indictment. 

Cutting away from Trump attempting to frame the narrative that way is powerful and something that emphasizes that, no, this is not a normal presidential candidate we’re dealing with.

12d ago / 10:29 PM UTC

What we’re looking for in Trump’s Bedminster speech tonight

Trump is currently flying back to his Bedminster residence in New Jersey, something that not many people get to do on a private plane the same day that they’ve been arraigned on federal charges.

That means that for the next few hours we’re in a bit of a holding pattern waiting to see what he says during the speech he’s giving tonight. Granted, we can probably guess most of the elements of what he’s going to say. He’ll rail against the “rigged” system and the way he’s being unfairly targeted as well as the “weaponization” of the government, though he may not use that particular GOP buzzword. 

But what we’ll be looking out for are his mood and energy level after his second arraignment in less than three months; how much of what he says has already directly been contradicted by the Justice Department’s indictment; and whether anything he says resembles a defense that could potentially fly in court with a judge presiding.

12d ago / 9:50 PM UTC

No-contact restrictions on Trump could be tough to enforce

Trump walked freely out of the courtroom after his arraignment Tuesday. But NBC News reported that the magistrate judge did order prosecutors to put together a list of people whom Trump isn’t allowed to contact to discuss the specifics of the case.

It’s difficult to see how that’s enforced with, say, Trump’s co-defendant, Waltine Nauta, who is apparently still firmly within Trump’s orbit as a personal aide.

So the no-contact restriction might not turn out to be much of one at all. How would the court learn if such a restriction were broken with Trump and Nauta, who will be talking all of the time in the normal course of their business together? Perhaps if Nauta winds up flipping on Trump, but, if that happens, then breaking a contact order might not be at the top of Trump’s list of things to worry about.

12d ago / 9:35 PM UTC

Trump’s first post-arraignment stop is a message to GOP rivals

Trump’s motorcade pulled over at a local restaurant named Versailles to meet with supporters, who were more than happy to see the former president despite his legal troubles. Between fans cheering him and a group that prayed over him, nobody that seemed concerned that they were celebrating a criminal defendant. It’s worth noting both that Versailles is a Miami institution and a hub for Hispanic Republican activity, making the exact kind of place that he would want to visit, and that Nauta was present with him during the visit.

It makes sense psychologically that, absent a massive rally to cheer him up, Trump would immediately dive into a crowd of fans to boost his mood. It also works as a show of strength to his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination next year. It almost seemed to dare the other candidates to hit him on the federal charges when there’s still this much support for him among the GOP faithful.

12d ago / 9:26 PM UTC

E. Jean Carroll adds to Trump’s very bad day

Earlier today, NBC News reported that two Nevada Republicans who served as so-called “fake electors” after the 2020 election were seen today entering a Washington courthouse, where a grand jury is investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

Writer E. Jean Carroll is now adding to Trump’s legal woes. CNN reports that a federal judge will allow Carroll to amend a previous defamation lawsuit against the former president to include comments he made at a CNN town hall. 

In a separate lawsuit last month, a jury found Trump liable for sexually abusing Carroll in a Manhattan department store in the 1990s and then defaming her by calling her claims fraudulent. But the former president was characteristically undeterred by accountability.

Just one day later, during a now-infamous CNN town hall, Trump called Carroll a “whack job” and her account  “a fake story, made up story.” On top of the $5 million the first jury awarded her, Carroll is asking for at least $10 million in compensatory damages, plus additional punitive damages.

12d ago / 9:21 PM UTC

Three observations I made inside the courtroom today

I was in the courtroom today, and as I sat on the defense side of the room, three things stood out to me:

1.) Trump lawyer Todd Blanche not only whispered to Trump during the hearing but frequently talked to Walt Nauta, Trump’s co-defendant in the classified documents indictment, directly or to Nauta and his lawyer together. That’s highly unusual.

2) When the hearing ended, all of the U.S. Secret Service personnel sitting in the two rows directly behind the defense table stood up to flank Trump and then they surrounded him to escort him out. But rather than simply look ahead and leave, Trump turned around and stared down all of the people in the courtroom, scowling and seemingly scanning for someone he knew.

3) As Trump left, Nauta left with him, falling into the line of agents trailing him. It was as if he flipped a switch and went from being a co-defendant to resuming his duties as Trump’s aide in a heartbeat.

Read more here.

12d ago / 8:51 PM UTC

Neal Katyal: Trump's M.O. is always 'delay, delay, delay'

Former U.S. Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal on MSNBC moments ago:

I think the timeline here is quite a long timeline. This is not something that’s going to move quickly. Jack Smith has said he could present this in a matter of three weeks in a trial, but I think we’re talking many months before that trial.

There’s also going to be classified information questions under the Classified Information Procedures Act. But I see no reason why this trial shouldn’t take place in the fall of this year. I think it would be a mistake to delay it any longer. 

Trump is obviously going to try. That’s his modus operandi. It’s always delay, delay, delay.

12d ago / 8:44 PM UTC

Sketch from inside Trump arraignment released

No cameras were allowed inside the Trump arraignment courtroom today so this sketch is the only publicly available image so far of today's proceedings.

Courtroom sketch of former President Donald Trump with his lawyers and former aide Walt Nauta at their arraignment in federal court in Miami on June 13, 2023.
Former President Donald Trump and former aide Walt Nauta at their arraignment in federal court in Miami today.Courtesy William J. Hennessy Jr
12d ago / 8:41 PM UTC

Trump supporters sing him ‘Happy Birthday’ after his arraignment

Trump turns 77 tomorrow and in a quick stop after pleading not guilty in federal court, a crowd of supporters sang him “Happy Birthday.”

“Surreal” is probably the best word for this moment.

12d ago / 8:37 PM UTC

We don’t have the most important information in the case: timing

NBC News reported that there wasn’t a next court date set at Trump’s arraignment. That doesn’t mean there won’t be one set soon, but for now it means we lack information that’s especially important for Trump’s case, given the time sensitivities as we approach the 2024 election that could upend any federal prosecutions against Trump if he or another Republican is elected.

That puts all eyes on the court docket for any hints of how Judge Aileen Cannon, who doesn’t seem intent on recusing herself, will handle the case — including whether she’s inclined to indulge any Trump-backed delays.

12d ago / 8:36 PM UTC

Why a judge made this 'really rare decision' in the docs case

12d ago / 8:33 PM UTC

The conditions of Trump’s release after arraignment

Trump and Nauta left the court without having to hand over their passports or any travel restrictions placed upon them, NBC News reports. (Nauta didn’t have a lawyer able to practice in the Southern District of Florida and thus was unable to enter a plea today. He is scheduled to be arraigned on June 27.)

But the magistrate judge overseeing today's proceedings handed down an order that the two co-defendants are not allowed to talk about their case without their lawyers present. That’s something that Trump wasn’t happy about given that Nauta is still his valet, which could make things awkward for them.

The judge also went beyond what the federal prosecutors asked for and ruled that Trump wouldn’t be able to talk about the case at all with potential witnesses. Trump’s lawyers argued that this would be a major problem given that many of the possible witnesses are either part of the staff at Mar-a-Lago or his Secret Service detail. The solution from the judge was that the government would provide a list of potential witnesses that Trump can’t discuss the case with without a lawyer present.

That’s important for two reasons. First, it keeps Trump and Nauta from trying to collude further about the case, which makes sense given one of the charges is a conspiracy to obstruct justice. Second, it keeps Trump from trying to either intimidate witnesses or retaliate against them — and any attempt to do so will get him in ever further legal trouble.

12d ago / 7:59 PM UTC

Where is Melania Trump? Fox News doesn’t know.

Remember Melania Trump? You'd be forgiven if you didn't since she hasn't been away from the public eye for a while now.

Fox News thought they spotted the former first lady arriving to her husband's arraignment today. But the outlet was mistaken and issued a subsequent correction.

As NBC News' Ken Dilanian noted moments ago on MSNBC, no one but Trump's attorneys were with him at his arraignment today. So the question remains: Where is Melania Trump?

12d ago / 7:49 PM UTC

Remember: Trump might have avoided all this even after retaining docs

One of the most amazing things about this Espionage Act case is that Trump might have avoided it despite taking national security documents that weren’t his. That is, had he not allegedly obstructed the investigation, as federal prosecutors have accused him of doing, the government might have exercised discretion not to charge him. 

We’ve seen just recently, in the investigation into former Vice President Mike Pence’s possession of classified documents, that Pence learned he isn’t being charged. While there are multiple differences in the underlying facts (there haven’t been similar brazen allegations about the reckless storage of sensitive documents against Pence like there are against Trump, for example), the presence or absence of obstruction has historically been a factor that prosecutors have considered in bringing charges in these sorts of cases. Trump seemingly placed himself on the wrong side of that line despite being given multiple opportunities to cooperate.

12d ago / 7:43 PM UTC

McConnell's cowardice is why he has to keep fielding questions about Trump

At his weekly leadership presser today, McConnell avoided two questions about Trump’s indictment “I simply … am not gonna start commenting on the various candidates we have running for president,” he told NBC News’s Sahil Kapur.

“There are a lot of ’em, it’s gonna be interesting to watch, and I look forward to seeing your coverage,” he added, before ending the press conference

But, of course, McConnell voted to acquit Trump during his second impeachment following the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. And it’s exactly because of that sort of cowardice that he’s stuck facing questions about Trump yet again.

Read more here:

12d ago / 7:30 PM UTC

Ari Melber: Trump now in the custody of the government he once ran

12d ago / 7:25 PM UTC

Trump's bigger big lie

Former Rep. David Jolly, speaking with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell moments ago:

I think the most important thing here, and it’s very critical for the country, is that the common thread among Republicans is this weaponization of government, and that is not an argument without a victim.

If the stolen election represented the big lie that preceded Jan. 6, this weaponization of government is almost a bigger lie. It gives Republicans the ability to ignore law and order, to demean justice, and to suggest that what Donald Trump faces, he should not be facing. 

At the root of that is a lie and the belief among many Republicans that Joe Biden himself is corrupt, and that’s why you hear them talk about the two-tiered systems of justice. But the reality is Donald Trump, now twice impeached, twice indicted, is facing a loss of his liberty for a detailed indictment that a special counsel has handed down and Donald Trump himself on a personal basis will have to defend the actions he’s been accused of.

12d ago / 7:16 PM UTC

12d ago / 7:13 PM UTC

An argument for an open Trump trial

Andrew Weissman speaking with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell moments ago:

What’s going to happen at trial is Trump is not in control of that situation. There will be a slew of witnesses who are his employees, his attorneys, his voice, text messages that will be quite damning. But that’s not a reason not to have an open trial. 

I do think that if you’re trying to deal with a problem of conspiracy theories and people who are not fact based, having a trial where people can actually see it and hear it I think is indispensable to what this country is about to go through. Which is: Are we going to believe in the rule of law? Or are we going down a very, very different road?

12d ago / 7:05 PM UTC

A 'stone-faced' Trump pleads not guilty

As expected, Trump has pleaded not guilty in the classified documents case.

NBC News' Ken Dilanian reported the "bare bones" proceeding lasted about five minutes. Trump wore a red tie and blue suit and sat "stone-faced" during his appearance.

12d ago / 7:02 PM UTC

Don’t sleep on the DOJ's Jan. 6 probe, which is still moving

While we’re waiting for Trump’s classified documents arraignment, we got a reminder that it’s not the only federal matter being overseen by special counsel Jack Smith.

The other one is the Jan. 6 probe, in which NBC News reported “fake electors” action today, spotting Nevada GOP Chair Michael McDonald, a close Trump political ally, as well as Jim DeGraffenreid, the state party’s vice chair, entering the room where the Jan. 6 grand jury is meeting at the Washington federal courthouse. 

NBC News reported that both men “served as so-called fake electors, slates of electors who in most cases signed certification documents purporting that Trump had won in their states even though he had lost.”

We don’t know what, if any, charges await Trump in the probe investigating his actions surrounding the insurrection and efforts to thwart the peaceful transfer of power after he lost the 2020 election to Joe Biden.

But it’s a reminder of Trump’s already busy docket — including the New York state hush money case, with a trial set for March 2024, as well as potential Georgia state charges this summer — that could grow further if Smith’s other federal probe yields charges against Trump as well.

12d ago / 6:48 PM UTC

GOP Sen. Marsha Blackburn has a very important question

Yes. Yes, I do.

I think the idea that the Justice Department managed to coordinate today’s arraignment process as a way to distract from Hunter Biden’s personal troubles is not only a ridiculous and evidence-free claim but would be such a complicated, Rube Goldberg-esque plot to pull off that I can’t imagine how coordinating it would be useful to the DOJ.

Questioning whether it’s a coincidence does nothing but sow distrust of the process while also getting in a smack at the Bidens.

12d ago / 6:47 PM UTC

Trump keeps hiring spokespeople with law degrees

While Trump and Nauta were inside the courthouse being booked, one member of Trump’s legal team, Alina Habba, was outside speaking with the press. What she said, though, had little to do with the legal theory of the case or the arguments that would be made during the future trial. Instead, she read off a diatribe that could easily have been presented by anyone in Trump’s orbit. 

Habba said that the “decision to pursue charges against President Trump while turning a blind eye to others is emblematic of the corruption that we have here. We are at a turning point in our nation’s history.” She listed Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton as being the beneficiaries of this “blind eye” despite their cases being entirely different. She also called out what’s happening to Trump as “the type of thing you see in dictatorships, like Cuba and Venezuela,” an analogy that seemed especially targeted at the South Florida-based potential jury pool.

It was a performance designed to appeal to her client, who would surely watch back later, but also one that highlighted how Trump has been choosing his legal representation. It seems from where I’m sitting that what Trump wants more than someone who can win for him in court is someone who can go on television and act as a political spokesperson for him in the court of public opinion. (Or at least that’s the best people he can get considering how many lawyers have reportedly turned down defending him in this case.)

13d ago / 6:26 PM UTC

Donald Trump and his pal Walt Nauta arrested, booked

Trump and Nauta, the former president's co-defendant in the 38-count federal indictment, have surrendered and been booked, a U.S. Marshals spokesperson told NBC News. They are now in federal custody.

Former President Donald Trump arrives at the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. United States Federal Courthouse on June 13, 2023, in Miami.
Former President Donald Trump arrives at the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. United States Federal Courthouse today in Miami.Stephanie Keith / Getty Images
13d ago / 6:22 PM UTC

Rick Santorum claims Trump is being prosecuted for absurd reason

Remember Rick Santorum? The former Pennsylvania senator whose name may or may not be safe to Google at this point? He ran for president and flamed out early back in 2012?

Well, he’s still around and offering up his thoughts on politics despite not holding office in over a decade. And he says he knows the real reason Trump is being prosecuted: Democrats want him to be the GOP nominee.

It should go without saying this his theory is entirely unfounded. It seems more likely that Trump's facing federal charges because an investigation found he allegedly broke several federal laws. But I guess that’s too cut-and-dry of an explanation for ol’ Richard “5-D Chess” Santorum.

13d ago / 5:57 PM UTC

How Team Trump's looking to leverage the indictment

NBC News correspondent Dasha Burns speaking on "Chris Jansing Reports" moments ago:

We don’t expect to hear from the former president before he heads to court, but we have been hearing from him on social media. He has been putting out a flurry of posts on Truth Social. We’ve also already received several fundraising emails from Team Trump, and he will be holding a fundraiser tonight.

I think that is so important to emphasize because it really shows the thinking in Trump World right now: that while the legal process here is very serious and any lawyer you talk to will tell you how grave this is, in terms of the legal situation for the former president, politically they are very much looking to use this as an advantage in the primary. They are looking to fundraise off of this. They’re looking to rally support and gain momentum off of this.

13d ago / 5:50 PM UTC

Remember: Trump won’t get hundreds of years in prison

Trump’s arraignment is a sobering reminder for the former president that he faces the possibility of serious prison time in this federal case. But if you’re trying to figure out what the sentence could be, don’t waste your time adding up the maximums listed in his indictment — which would go well into the triple digits.

Aside from the fact that Trump, who turns 77 on Wednesday, would die before any such sentence is fully served, that’s just not how federal terms are calculated. As I explained in this post for Deadline: Legal Blog, Trump’s sentence would be both less extreme and more complicated than that, because federal prison terms are calculated according to a complex set of guidelines. Those guidelines take several factors into account — some of which will become clearer as the case progresses — and make it difficult to predict precisely how much time Trump would receive. 

While the guidelines suggest that a double-digit prison term is certainly in the cards for Trump if he’s convicted, don’t bother with the math for the statutory maximums.

13d ago / 5:46 PM UTC

Secret Service expresses concern about barriers

Trump is en route to the courthouse and when he arrives, he'll likely notice the relatively lax security measures compared with his arraignment in April for his New York hush money indictment.

There are no hardened barriers outside the courthouse — only police tape — which has prompted some federal officials to express concern.

“We would have preferred ... a more hardened bike rack type situation,” a U.S. Secret Service official told NBC News. Local officials were tasked with the security of today's event.

Image: Miami Police officers cordon off an area near the federal courthouse before former President Donald Trump arrives for his arraignment in Florida on Tuesday.
Miami Police officers cordon off an area with police tape near the federal courthouse in Miami today.Scott Olson / Getty Images
Image: Supporters and opponents of former President Donald Trump gather near Manhattan Criminal Court before Trump's arraignment in New York on April 4.
Protesters gather near Manhattan Criminal Court before Trump's arraignment in New York on April 4.Spencer Platt / Getty Images file

The source told NBC News that Florida's concealed carry law adds to the general concern of a large crowd in proximity to the former president.

13d ago / 5:40 PM UTC

Nikki Haley pivots on Trump charges: 'Incredibly reckless' if true

In the immediate aftermath of Trump’s announcement that he had been indicted a second time, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, like most Republican presidential candidates, scrambled to side with Trump against federal prosecutors. “This is not how justice should be pursued in our country,” she tweeted

But on Monday, she shifted to a position that was more critical of Trump. She said on Fox News that while she believes the Justice Department and the FBI have “lost all credibility with the American people,” she also thought the charges brought against Trump raised serious questions about him.

“If this indictment is true, if what it says is actually the case, President Trump was incredibly reckless with our national security,” Haley said. “This puts all of our military men and women in danger.” 

It’s unclear what’s motivating Haley’s pivot. It’s possible her position is evolving based on the astonishing and apparently damning allegations brought forth in the unsealed indictment. It’s possible she’s wagering that she needs to stake out a less crowded lane in the primaries. She could also be growing bearish on Trump’s ability to survive a string of indictments and wants to get ahead of that early. Either way, it’s an interesting data point in a race that has mostly been defined by deference toward Trump.

13d ago / 5:33 PM UTC

Trump’s own attorney general is skeptical of his arguments

Former Attorney General William Barr isn’t confident that his former boss can beat the federal charges laid out in last week’s indictment. Speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” Barr said that he was “shocked by the degree of sensitivity of these documents and how many there were,” adding that “if even half of it’s true, he’s toast.”

Trump did not take kindly to this analysis, saying on Truth Social that Barr is a “disgruntled former employee” who was ““weak & totally ineffective.” Not a very kind way to treat the guy who ran such an impressive defense for him at the end of the Russia investigation.

13d ago / 5:31 PM UTC

Are Jan. 6 prosecutions deterring rowdy protests today?

MSNBC columnist Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a historian and commentator on authoritarianism and propaganda, suggests that the modest showing of pro-Trump protesters could be due to the prosecutions of Jan. 6 rioters.

"This is how prosecuting criminals protect society from further extremist violence," she tweeted, adding: "Trumpworld can heroicize these thugs but the message they will be held accountable is received."

13d ago / 5:29 PM UTC

Hope is not a security strategy

Frank Figliuzzi speaking on “Katy Tur Reports” moments ago on the security situation at the Miami courthouse:

I’m left to wonder what is happening here. There’s multi-layered and multi-agency coordination — or lack thereof — here. Yellow perimeter tape is not a perimeter; it’s an invitation to people who want to cause trouble that they won’t encounter a lot of resistance if they try it.

Too many cooks can spoil the broth. It’s not enough to say, quote, as [Miami Police Chief Manuel Morales] said, this is "not the Miami way." It is not enough, as the mayor said, that we hope for the best. Hope is not a security strategy.

So while it's not clear what is going on, I am clear that if people intent on violence show up, and do so in large numbers, what I’m seeing right now will not be adequate.

13d ago / 5:04 PM UTC

The GOP’s defenses for Trump’s bathroom don’t pass the smell test

One of the most incredible things to come from the Trump indictment document was a photo of several boxes of documents being stored in a Mar-a-Lago bathroom. Sanitary issues aside, given the potential that some of those boxes contained classified information, this was nowhere near the airtight security that is required and that Trump has insisted was undertaken to protect them.

Watching Republicans contort themselves to try to defend this lack of care has been truly incredible. Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., said on CNN with a straight face that because “there are 33 bathrooms at Mar-a-Lago,” it was totally legit since not anyone could wander into whichever bathroom that was. (Putting aside how well he could identify that particular bathroom from that photo, it’s truly incredible to suggest that the poors just don’t understand how secure bathroom No. 28 is compared with bathroom No. 24.)

Meanwhile, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy tried to pull a Trump yesterday and point a finger at Biden for having documents stored in a garage. (Biden immediately handed over those documents once found, unlike Trump.) McCarthy’s argument: At least bathrooms have locks.

Two things there: a) garage doors also lock, my friend; and b) most bathroom doors lock from the inside.

13d ago / 4:57 PM UTC

'More press than protesters': Scene outside courthouse calm so far

Trump called for his supporters to protest ahead of his court appearance on Tuesday, sparking concerns of another Jan. 6, 2021, scenario. But the scene appeared to remain relatively calm outside the courthouse this morning where the former president is set to appear later today.

Several reporters noted that there appeared to be more members of the media outside the courthouse than protesters.

"So far everything is very peaceful," NBC senior legal correspondent Laura Jarrett told Andrea Mitchell minutes ago. "There have been a lot of chants of 'I love Trump,' but they're not rowdy."

Earlier, police investigated a "suspicious device" in front of the courthouse but it was cleared shortly thereafter.

13d ago / 4:55 PM UTC

When will Judge Cannon get involved, and what happens next?

Chuck Rosenberg speaking on “Katy Tur Reports” moments ago:

Today at the arraignment, Mr. Trump will enter a plea of not guilty. The judge will set conditions of release. I assume he’ll be released on his own recognizance and then the district court judge, Judge Cannon, takes it from there.

She’ll set dates for hearings, status hearings, motions, perhaps even a trial date — although I think a trial will be well off in the future. Today’s hearings for the average defendant and the average case is perfunctory. For Mr. Trump, it’s always a bit of a circus.

13d ago / 4:43 PM UTC

Trump (finally) has local counsel to represent him today

Trump has had some trouble, let’s say, in keeping a stable roster of legal counsel. It wasn’t clear yesterday whether he’d even have someone who was able to represent him in federal court today.

But this morning, two of the lawyers already on his team officially added their names to the case. Christopher Kise, whom Trump retained last year as part of his team, filed a notice with the court that he had “agreed to represent President Trump for trial, all proceedings in the District Court, and on appeal.”

Kise also agreed to sponsor attorney Todd Blanche to represent Trump, despite Blanche not being licensed to practice law in that particular district.

13d ago / 4:39 PM UTC

Looks like Judge Cannon isn’t recusing — at least not yet

The infamous Aileen Cannon isn’t presiding over Trump’s arraignment, but the judge is making appearances on the court docket today that are more notable for what they don’t say.

She issued orders in administrative matters that are uncontroversial in their own right, but they serve to highlight that she doesn’t appear to be recusing from Trump’s case — at least not yet.

I wasn’t expecting her to do so, and, as I wrote Monday, prosecutors may have a hard time successfully challenging her assignment, even if she previously ruled for Trump in ridiculous fashion before his indictment. Jack Smith’s team may have to wait for Cannon to make new egregious moves in the criminal case if they want her off of it.

13d ago / 4:33 PM UTC

Cannon's issue is her rulings, not that Trump appointed her

Andrew Weissmann on “Andrea Mitchell Reports” moments ago:

In this case, it’s hard to imagine the judge being favorable to the government given her track record. Again, just to make sure people understand, it’s not that she was appointed by Donald Trump. There are lots of judges appointed by Donald Trump who reversed Aileen Cannon's rulings. So there are many people who act out of principle. Here, the issue is based on her rulings.

13d ago / 4:28 PM UTC

No cameras but expedited transcript expected

13d ago / 4:13 PM UTC

Trump’s biggest challenge is going to be shutting up

It may not be a surprise that Republicans so far still seem to be lining up behind Trump after last week’s indictment. But a new poll from CBS News had an interesting tidbit inside it: Likely GOP primary voters want Trump to come out on top in this case — but they’d like him to stop talking about his indictments and the 2020 election on the campaign trail.

You can read more about why that’s going to be a big problem for him here.

13d ago / 3:54 PM UTC

Media can't bring electronic devices in courthouse

A federal judge issued a court order last night barring members of the media from bringing electronic devices into the courthouse. No cameras are permitted inside. Only images produced by a sketch artist are expected to be available.

So it's the old-fashioned pad and pen for journalists reporting from the courthouse today. Before MSNBC legal analyst Lisa Rubin headed inside this morning, she noted a parade of chickens making their way across the grounds. The birds' presence has become a point of interest to some reporters.

13d ago / 3:41 PM UTC

Trump is a threat to national security, indictment suggests

The indictment is a first step toward accountability for Trump’s alleged abuse of power. But, for a number of reasons, he will remain a threat until he is potentially convicted — and perhaps even beyond that. 

If Trump were to become president again in January 2025, foreign allies might be unwilling to share their sensitive intelligence with us. And if we stop receiving valuable intelligence from allies, we will be in the dark about important information with which to make decisions about our military and security interests.

Read more here:

13d ago / 3:34 PM UTC

Will Trump have mugshot and fingerprints taken?

Trump will be booked at the courthouse today, but he is not expected to have a mugshot photo taken, a law enforcement official told NBC News.

Instead, officials will reportedly upload a photo into their internal system, which is not accessible to the public. He will have his hand scanned digitally — no ink — for fingerprinting.

Trump didn't have a mugshot taken during his arraignment for his first indictment either. (He was fingerprinted though.)

13d ago / 2:56 PM UTC

I'm a lawyer. Here's what stood out to me in Trump's indictment.

Call me old-school, but I still insist on printing out court filings so I can attack them with my trusty neon yellow highlighter and my ballpoint pen (blue being the preferred color). So as soon as the 38-count indictment against Trump and Nauta was unsealed, I grabbed my tools and hurried to check it out.

There were four main areas that I focused on in my initial review of the indictment: the players, proof of Trump’s knowledge/intent and alleged obstruction, the classified documents at issue, and Trump’s exposure.

Read my annotated version of the indictment here.

13d ago / 2:28 PM UTC

Trump to speak at his Bedminster golf club tonight

Trump certainly isn't shying away from the firehouse of attention he's receiving over his latest indictment. (That shouldn't surprise you though.)

After his court hearing today, he's slated to fly to New Jersey and deliver remarks around 8:15 p.m. ET from his golf club in Bedminster, where he's hosting the first fundraiser for his 2024 campaign.

His campaign expects to rake in $2 million tonight, Politico reported. That's on top of the money he's likely hauled in during his post-indictment fundraising efforts. He really seems to be testing the old "crime doesn't pay" adage, my colleague Steve Benen pointed out earlier this week.

13d ago / 1:52 PM UTC

Read full text of Trump classified docs indictment here

In Trump's 49-page indictment, federal prosecutors lay out the charges against the former president and present some of the evidence they've collected during their monthslong investigation into his handling of classified documents.

Read the full document in the post below.

13d ago / 1:17 PM UTC

One update to watch out for today

Today's hearing will be before a magistrate judge. Look for what date the parties are told to be back before Judge Aileen Cannon for the next court appearance. How quickly is Cannon moving the case along? 

13d ago / 1:16 PM UTC

Judge Aileen Cannon not overseeing today's proceedings

Though Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon has been assigned the case, today's hearing will be overseen by Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman.

Cannon, appointed by Trump in 2020, will decide the pace and terms of a potential trial. As Politico reported, "In an apparently random twist of fate, the court’s computerized assignment system allocated the case to Cannon."

Don't assume Cannon to recuse or be kicked off the case, despite her dubious prior involvement in the case. My colleague Jordan Rubin explains why here.

13d ago / 1:02 PM UTC

What to expect today

Trump has been summoned to appear at the Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. United States Courthouse, a federal courthouse in Miami today at 3 p.m. ET after he was indicted last week on 37 counts in special counsel Jack Smith's classified documents probe.

Co-defendant Walt Nauta, a Trump aide, has been summoned to appear alongside the former president during today's proceedings.

Trump and Nauta are expected to be processed at the courthouse and advised of their rights. They are expected to enter their pleas today as well. Trump has said he will plead not guilty.