Former US President Donald Trump has entered a not-guilty plea to 37 federal charges relating to the mishandling and retention of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate.
Trump is the first former US president to face federal charges. This second indictment comes just months after Trump was charged by a Manhattan grand jury in a separate case.
Trump’s charges include 31 counts under an Espionage Act statute pertaining to the willful retention of national defence information. The charges also include counts of obstructing justice and making false statements, among other crimes.
Trump’s valet Walt Nauta who was also charged in the case pleaded not guilty. Both defendants are expected to discuss any potential conditions of bail, which could include an order to surrender the former president’s passport.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing, saying he’s being unfairly targeted by political opponents who want to hurt his 2024 bid for the White House.
Trump is accused of keeping documents related to “nuclear weaponry in the United States” and the “nuclear capabilities of a foreign country,” along with documents from White House intelligence briefings, including some that detail the military capabilities of the US and other countries, according to the indictment.
Prosecutors alleged Trump showed off the documents to people who did not have security clearances to review them and later tried to conceal documents from his own lawyers as they sought to comply with federal demands to find and return documents. It is believed the classified files were kept in the shower, bathroom, ballroom and bedroom of his Florida mansion.
The top charges carry penalties of up to 20 years in prison.
Trump surrendered to federal authorities ahead of a hearing scheduled for 3 pm in federal court in Miami.