Former president Donald Trump said he was traveling to South Florida on Monday, a day ahead of his scheduled court appearance to face federal criminal charges, as law enforcement officials continued to map out security plans and brace for any potential unrest on Tuesday.
Trump was charged last week with more than three dozen counts in a blistering 49-page indictment accusing him of hoarding sensitive intelligence information after leaving office and then obstructing federal officials investigating the matter. One of his aides, Walt Nauta, was also charged in the case, and both men were ordered to make their initial appearances in a downtown Miami courtroom Tuesday afternoon.
With Trump supporters outraged by the charges – his first in federal court, but the second time this year he has been indicted, following an unrelated case in New York in which the former president was charged with falsifying business records – authorities on alert for any tumult were monitoring plans for rallies centering on his court appearance.
Law enforcement officials in Miami were monitoring social media calls for protests and events, with an advisory from the Miami-Dade police alerting other agencies about a planned rally Monday outside the Trump National Doral, one of the former president’s properties, which is located about 12 miles west of the federal courthouse.
Trump, who has been in New Jersey, posted on social media Monday morning that he would be heading to his Doral golf club. He is expected to stay there overnight Monday before going to court Tuesday, according to two people familiar with his plans who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not cleared to speak publicly.
Court records show that the initial appearances for Trump and Nauta are both set for 3 p.m. Tuesday at the federal courthouse in the heart of downtown Miami.
Local officials are expecting Trump to arrive downtown about 2 p.m., according to an internal email sent by the chief judge of Miami-Dade’s state courts system. The email was sent to judges in two nearby state courthouses, to help them prepare for potentially heavy crowds and traffic restrictions that are expected to stretch across the area. Chief judges in Florida have administrative authority over state courts within their judicial circuits, which are separate from the federal court system in which Trump is being charged.
Judges and supervisors were being given discretion to allow employees to work remotely, Chief Judge Nushin Sayfie wrote in her email. Also, no jurors or potential jurors will be required to go to the civil or family courthouses Tuesday, and some ongoing trials may be delayed or moved to a different courthouse.
On Monday, two hours before Trump was expected to arrive at his Doral golf club, a couple dozen supporters gathered on the sidewalk across the street, chanting: “Trump is innocent! Trump is innocent!”
Sepi Shakur, a 39-year old engineer, cradled her 2-year-old son in the 80-degree heat as her three other boys – all younger than 7 – waved at honking cars. They were in town from Boise for a family vacation when word broke about the indictment, and they scrapped their beach plans to protest.
“All these political prosecutions,” she said. “We live in a third-world country.”
Trump’s trip to Florida is expected to be brief. His aides have said he plans to make public remarks Tuesday night back in Bedminster, N.J., at another of his golf resorts. After he was arraigned in Manhattan, Trump similarly returned to his home turf – in that instance, the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach that has been his primary residence since leaving office – to make a speech pillorying that case.
In social media postings since the most recent indictment, Trump has railed against the federal case and shared criticism of it from his supporters.
Trump has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and accused investigators of being politically motivated. In addition to the two cases in which he has been charged, the former president continues to face investigations connected to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol and efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn his loss in Georgia during the 2020 presidential election.
On social media, Trump has condemned his critics and opponents as “Communists, Marxists, and Radical Left Lunatics,” and denounced Jack Smith, the special counsel leading the classified documents investigation. In one posting, Trump called Smith a “deranged ‘psycho.'”
Smith, in rare public remarks, made a brief statement after the indictment was unsealed. “We have one set of laws in this country, and they apply to everyone,” he said.
Trump’s indictment fueled a wave of angry commentary online and in spoken remarks from his supporters. Kari Lake, who lost her Trump-endorsed bid to be Arizona’s governor in 2022, has said she plans to rally in support of Trump in South Florida, and alluded to violence in her response to the charges.
“If you want to get to President Trump, you’re going to have to go through me and you’re going to have to go through 75 million Americans just like me,” she told a GOP group on Friday. Referencing the National Rifle Association, the pro-gun group, she added: “Most of us are card-carrying members of the NRA. That’s not a threat, that’s a public service announcement.”
Security is expected to be ramped up surrounding the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. Courthouse in Miami, the gleaming tower where Trump will be making his initial appearance.
Police in Miami have already disseminated another advisory noting potential rallies planned for Tuesday around the courthouse. In one bulletin issued after the indictment was unsealed last week, the Miami-Dade police flagged a social media post advertising a “Trump Document Hoax Rally” outside the courthouse Tuesday. A different police advisory noted a rally planned for Tuesday morning by the Miami courthouse, ostensibly organized by the Miami chapter of the Proud Boys group.
When Trump was arraigned in April in the Manhattan case – which centered on a 2016 payment meant to keep Stormy Daniels, an adult-film actress who alleged having an affair with Trump a decade earlier, from speaking out during that year’s presidential election – that appearance required extensive security measures. The criminal courthouse was shuttered for a time, and a major roadway was closed nearby. The area also drew Trump supporters, protesters and curious observers, along with a large media presence.
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The Washington Post’s David Ovalle in Miami, Danielle Paquette in Doral, Fla., and Carol D. Leonnig and Isaac Arnsdorf in Washington contributed to this report.