Former United States President Donald Trump on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to 37 charges pertaining to accusations that he mishandled classified documents, the Associated Press reported.
Trump has been accused of mishandling government secrets that he was entrusted to safeguard when he was the president. The Justice Department had indicted him on the charges on June 8 – the first time in the country’s history that a former president is facing federal charges.
“We most certainly enter a plea of not guilty,” Trump’s lawyer Todd Blanche told the court. Magistrate Judge John Goodman told the former president not to communicate with his co-defendant Walt Nauta about the case, according to CNN
He also told prosecutors to make a list of potential witnesses with whom Trump would not be able to communicate, except through his counsel. The judge, however, did not place any travel restrictions on the defendants.
In August, the Federal Bureau of Investigation agents had seized documents marked “top secret” and “sensitive compartmented information” – one of the highest levels of classification – during a search of Trump’s estate in Florida.
Information categorised in such a manner is meant to be accessed only in a secure government facility. Trump claims that the documents were de-classified.
If he is found guilty in the latest case, he can end up in prison. This can also upend his campaign for the presidential election in 2024.
On Tuesday, after the court hearing, the former president made an unannounced stop at a Cuban restaurant named Versailles. His supporters sang “happy birthday” for him, as his birthday is on Wednesday.
However, Trump reportedly said: “Some birthday, we got a government that is out of control.”
Later, he flew to New Jersey, where he told mediapersons that the charges against him were fabricated and that he had “unconstrained authority” when it came to handling the documents, according to CNN.