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An armored Miami prepares for the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr federal court hearing that will star Donald Trump for his second indictment linked to confidential documents stolen from the White House. An impressive array of law enforcement has surrounded the area around the courthouse since yesterday. Hundreds of police officers are on high alert for fear of clashes and protests, and dozens of FBI agents have also been asked to keep their guard up beyond Miami for fear of incidents or attacks elsewhere in the country. The feds are combing social networks and the web to identify any security threats ahead of the hearing. For the former president, it could be an opportunity for a show in front of his loyalists to denounce the Mar-a-Lago ‘box hoax’ and interference in the Justice Department elections.
Audience at 3 pm
Leaving the fort in Bedminster, New Jersey, Trump awaits his summons to court today at 3 pm from another of his properties, the Doral, a few tens of kilometers from Miami. In the war room of his club, the tycoon fine-tunes the final details of his legal strategy, honing the weapons available to him and leveraging the support of the Republicans in the chamber and his fans. Amid repeated calls for calm and social media distancing, the former president’s lawyers work tirelessly to prepare for the first hearing. According to rumors, the former president’s lawyers will ride two lines of defense: one relating to the tycoon’s power to declassify documents, the other looking ahead, i.e. to the 2024 elections, for which the tycoon is ahead in all polls. According to Washington PostTrump spent yesterday looking for a qualified attorney in Florida to bolster his defense against the indictment. However, the former American president did not have much luck: many of the lawyers seen and contacts said no to the tycoon, partly due to disagreements on the legal strategy to follow.
What could happen
It is unclear whether Trump will be handcuffed, fingerprinted or mug shot. Just as it is not yet clear whether Trump will be asked to wear an electronic bracelet. In his previous indictment in New York only fingerprints were taken, but in the case of Miami the situation is quite different because for the tycoon the charges presented by special prosecutor Jack Smith are federal and therefore have much wider implications. The 49 indictment pages illustrated the 37 charges brought against the former president, some based on the Espionage Act for failing to deliver federal documents to the competent authorities. Trump has declared his innocence on social media and in rallies throughout the weekend, and intends to reiterate the same position. Presiding at the preliminary hearing will be Magistrate Jonathan Goodman and not District Judge Aileen Cannon, who remains at the forefront of the former president’s case.
The political consequences
The eyes of politics, and above all of the Republicans, are focused on the hearing. If many conservatives defend Trump staunchly by observing how his case is similar to that of Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton’s emails in 2016, others are starting to doubt his electability. Beyond its broad public support, the Grand Old Party is concerned that Trump’s multiple legal battles could penalize Republicans at the polls. And above all from the risk that Trump could accept the nomination with the electronic bracelet, in an almost irreparable blow to the reputation of the party.