Former US President Donald Trump has been charged with illegally storing classified government documents at his Florida residence after leaving the White House in 2021, as well as obstruction of justice.
Final indictment against Trump, at 37 points, was released Friday by the US Department of Justice.
What will happen next?
Trump, who pleaded not guilty on Thursday, is due in federal court in Florida for the first time on June 13.
Shortly after Trump appears in court, prosecutors will begin turning over evidence to Trump’s attorneys.
Evidence may include correspondence over the past few years between Trump’s attorneys, the US National Archives and Records Administration and federal prosecutors, where they argued over the documents.
At some point, lawyers are expected to file a motion to dismiss this case for a number of reasons, one of which could be Trump’s claim that he declassified the documents before taking them with him from the House. White.
Lawyers are also likely to argue that the case should be dropped due to alleged prosecutorial misconduct, including alleged violations of legal doctrine that allows people to keep their communications with lawyers private.
Motions to dismiss a criminal case are standard but rarely successful because it is difficult for defendants to convince a judge that a case is too flawed to go to a jury. At this point, the prosecution also has the right to question the accuracy of its factual allegations.
How will this case affect the Trump campaign?
According to broadcaster ABC, the charges include violations of the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice, perjury and conspiracy.
None of this automatically bars Trump from campaigning or taking office if found guilty.
It’s not yet clear how the case will affect voters’ attitudes toward Trump. Trump’s numbers rose after he was indicted in a separate case in New York in April, and he is currently still leading the Republican Party nomination race.
Trump is using the allegations and investigations against him as campaign fundraisers, telling his supporters he needs their help while he is under political attack.
The Trump campaign reported in April that the number of donations increased after Trump was charged with financial fraud in Manhattan Criminal Court in New York.
When will the trial start?
It could still be several months before a possible trial.
Trump, who denies any wrongdoing on his part and calls the case a politically motivated “witch hunt”, has the right to sue within 100 days. But this rarely happens in difficult cases.
The parties are likely to agree to extended deadlines while they review evidence and pursue legal disputes.
Will Trump testify?
It will depend on Trump himself. Defendants are not required to testify and rarely do so because it is risky to be cross-examined by prosecutors.
Trump did not testify in a recent civil trial over sexual assault and defamation allegations brought by writer Elizabeth Jean Carroll. In May, a jury found Trump guilty in the case.
What happens if Trump wins the election?
Prosecutions are unlikely to proceed if Trump wins the presidential election in 2024. The US Department of Justice is part of the executive branch of government, and presidents are the primary law enforcement officials in the country.
The Justice Department has a long-standing policy that a sitting president cannot be harassed. The agency may waive this policy in “extraordinary circumstances” with the approval of the United States Attorney General.
The current United States Attorney General is Merrick Garland, appointed by President Joe Biden. If he decides to pursue legal action against Trump, then if he becomes president, he can fire Garland and appoint an acting attorney general and then a permanent successor, who must be confirmed by the Senate.
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