Ahead of his June 13 arraignment, Trump ratcheted up the rhetoric against the Justice Department special counsel who filed the case, calling Special Prosecutor Jack Smith “deranged" and his team of prosecutors “thugs" as he repeated without any evidence his claims that he was the target of a political persecution.
He called on his supporters to join a planned protest at the Miami courthouse Tuesday, where he will be arraigned on the 37 felony charges.
“We need strength in our country now,” Trump said, speaking to his 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 of protest 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's so far been dominating the Republican primary.
Trump's calls for protest echoed exhortations he made ahead of a New York court appearance last April, where he faces charges arising from hush money payments made during his 2016 presidential campaign, though he complained that those who showed up to protest then were “so far away that nobody knew about ’em.”
And just like in that case, he plans to address supporters in a Tuesday evening speech hours after his court date.
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 indictment alleges 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.
The material he stored, including in a bathroom, ballroom, bedroom and shower, included material on nuclear programs, defense and weapons capabilities of the U.S. 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 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.
Trump's own former attorney general, William Barr, offered a grim prediction of Trump's fate, saying on Fox News that Trump had no right to hold onto such sensitive records.
“If even half of it is true,” Barr said of the allegations in the indictment, “then he’s toast. I mean, it’s a pretty — it’s a very detailed indictment, and it’s very, very damning. And this idea of presenting Trump as a victim here — a victim of a witch hunt is ridiculous.”
A separate Justice Department special counsel investigation into the discovery of classified records at a home and office of President Joe Biden continues, though as in the Hillary Clinton deleted e-mails case, no evidence of obstruction or intentional law-breaking has surfaced.