Arraigned in Miami, Trump Is in Real Trouble

Arraigned in Miami, Trump Is in Real Trouble

Arraigned in Miami, Trump Is in Real Trouble

If convicted on any of these charges, Trump will almost certainly go to prison, perhaps for the rest of his life.


They say you never forget your first Donald Trump arraignment.

But at the rate we’re going, my fond memories of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s April 4 presentation of 34 counts of business fraud against Trump may fade. Special counsel Jack Smith’s 37-count indictment against the twice-impeached former president, for absconding with classified and secret information when he left the White House and repeatedly refusing to return it when the federal government asked him to, is stunning, often relying on Trump’s own words. Some 31 of the counts assert that Trump violated the Espionage Act by holding on to those documents. If convicted on any of the charges, Trump will almost certainly go to prison, perhaps for the rest of his life.

But that’s not all. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has signaled that she could indict Trump (and/or his allies) on election fraud charges in mid-August. And Jack Smith is still investigating Trump’s role in fomenting the violent January 6 insurrection and obstructing the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. While TV cameras were trained on Trump’s motorcade to the Miami courthouse, two Nevada “fake electors,” part of a scheme to subvert the Electoral College process, appeared before the Washington, D.C., grand jury investigating January 6.

“Justice too long delayed is justice denied,” the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famously said. Trump’s date with justice has certainly been delayed too long. But it looks like it won’t be denied.

The Miami arraignment gave us even less footage of Trump than his brief New York court appearance. We didn’t see him at the defendants’ table. We did learn that Jack Smith was there, personally, along with Jay Bratt, the Justice Department’s chief of counterintelligence, who took possession of the first tranche of documents Trump gave back—which revealed that there were more still missin, leading to the August 2022 Mar-a-Lago search. That must have been a nice reunion. Apparently, Trump sat with his codefendant, Walt Nauta, who did Trump’s bidding and faces several felony counts for his efforts. Reportedly, a Trump-related PAC is paying Nauta’s legal bills, the better to keep him close.

Trump is a famously needy narcissist, who likes to describe people by using the possessive. House Speaker McCarthy is famously “My Kevin,” and we heard him claim “my African American over there” at a 2016 campaign rally. But “my boxes,” as he called his trove of government secrets, will certainly go down in bizarro Trump history.

Trump was very protective of “my boxes,” it seems. Some of them even traveled with him, from Mar-a-Lago to his Bedminster, N.J., golf resort and back. The Trumpiest touch ever: Piles of boxes wound up stored in his gaudy bathroom, lit by a hideous chandelier. A psychologist could do a lot with that image: Trump’s treasure right next to Trump’s potty. “My Kevin” came through with a helpful explanation for the storage decision: “A bathroom door locks!” But normally it locks from the inside, Kevin. Was the former president locking himself in his bathroom to better savor his stolen state secrets?

I hope we find out.

While Republicans squawk about a weaponized prosecution and wail that Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden still walk free despite “questionable” (only GOP questions) handling of classified information, the truth, as New York’s Eric Levitz argues persuasively, is that the Justice Department has gone easy on Trump. It gave him the opportunity to voluntarily return the documents he wrongly took, without penalty. He returned some, and he wasn’t charged with taking them, although it was illegal. As the indictment clearly lays out, Trump defied a subpoena to give back the rest of them. He and co-conspirator Nauta hid boxes of documents from his then-attorney Evan Corcoran—and when Corcoran prepared to turn over the relative handful of papers he found, Trump still tried to get him to “pluck out” at least some of them. He refused the lifelines he was given.

Despite all the idiotic GOP Trump defenses, the ex-president is in real trouble. For one thing, the most infamous document he held back—a war plan against Iran, supposedly drafted by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Mark Milley, which the indictment shows he shared with writers to “prove” that Milley, whom he considered a turncoat, was the real war hawk—is still missing. It will also be fascinating to see whether journalists or Justice Department investigators or both are able to trace the disappearance of CIA assets reported last summer to the documents the government retrieved from Trump.

My friend and colleague Elie Mystal has written wisely of this welcome development, praising it but nonetheless worrying that a trial will run straight into presidential election season, where Trump will almost certainly be the nominee of one of the two major parties, making it hard for the Justice Department to proceed. I share that worry. But I don’t think Jack Smith’s evidence is entirely public yet, apart from whether he proceeds on January 6 charges. I think we’ll learn more still. I think it’s possible the political scales will finally tip against Trump.

It’s also possible that if someone finds Nauta a new lawyer, he will flip on Trump. The ex-president has not yet called him “my Walt,” but look for that. Still, they have no business sharing a legal team. In the end, Trump pleaded not guilty but Nauta didn’t enter a plea. Keep watching.

As Trump’s SUV left the courthouse, he gave his dozens of supporters, not the thousands he tried to summon, two thumbs up. An elderly man wearing an old striped prison suit and carrying a “Lock him up!” sign ran at the car, and got taken down by the assembled law enforcement muscle for his trouble. He grinned widely.

Just minutes later, Trump’s motorcade pulled up in front of Versailles, an iconic restaurant in Little Havana, a haven for those who fled Fidel Castro’s regime. That the place was packed on this Tuesday afternoon was obviously pre-planned. It seemed that Trump wanted to associate himself with victims of a Communist government, as if Biden were Castro. His loving fans lined up for selfies.

Thank you for reading The Nation!

We hope you enjoyed the story you just read, just one of the many incisive, deeply reported articles we publish daily. Now more than ever, we need fearless journalism that moves the needle on important issues, uncovers malfeasance and corruption, and uplifts voices and perspectives that often go unheard in mainstream media.

Donate right now and help us hold the powerful accountable, shine a light on issues that would otherwise be swept under the rug, and build a more just and equitable future.

For nearly 160 years, The Nation has stood for truth, justice, and moral clarity. As a reader-supported publication, we are not beholden to the whims of advertisers or a corporate owner. But it does take financial resources to report on stories that may take weeks or months to investigate, thoroughly edit and fact-check articles, and get our stories to readers like you.

Donate today and stand with us for a better future. Thank you for being a supporter of independent journalism.

Thank you for your generosity.

Ad Policy