FORT PIERCE, Fla. (AP) — Seeking to turn legal problems into political gain, former President Donald Trump arrived before a crowd of supporters at a federal courthouse in Florida on Monday for a closed-door hearing in the criminal case accusing him of mishandling classified documents.
His motorcade left after several hours as supporters called his name.
In the latest mix of court appearances in Trump’s election season schedule, supporters waving signs and flags gathered outside a courthouse barricade to deliver a campaign message from Trump to allies with for subject “I am in court”. Again!” warned that unspecified opponents “want me arrested” and “erased from the ballot.”
The message reinforced his team’s strategy of politicizing his four criminal prosecutions, including in Florida, where he faces dozens of counts accusing him of hoarding highly classified documents at his Mar- a-Lago and obstructing the FBI’s efforts to recover them.
Monday’s court date was scheduled as a procedural hearing, closed to the public, to discuss procedures for handling classified evidence in the trial currently scheduled for May 20. U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon presented defense attorneys’ arguments in the morning and prosecutors’ afternoon, each without the other present.
“Defense attorneys should be prepared to discuss in detail their defense theories about the case and how any classified information might be relevant or helpful to the defense,” Cannon wrote when scheduling the audience.
The closed-door hearing comes as prosecutors also revealed that a potential government witness received threats on social media that are now the subject of a federal investigation.
Trump’s motorcade arrived at the Fort Pierce courthouse shortly after 9 a.m. Outside, supporters held signs with messages such as “Trump 2024” and “Florida is Trump country.” He left the building in his motorcade after 2 p.m. as supporters shouted his name.
The hearing is one of several voluntary hearings that Trump has attended in recent weeks – he was present, for example, at the arguments of the appeals court last month in Washington — as he seeks to demonstrate to his supporters that he intends to fight his criminal charges while seeking to win back the White House in November.
In addition to the Florida case, Trump faces charges in Atlanta And Washington linked to efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. He is also charged in New York state court. in connection with secret payments made to porn actor Stormy Daniels. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Tucker reported from Washington.
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