Former President Donald Trump responded with fury Tuesday after he was arraigned on dozens of charges over his handling of classified documents and his alleged efforts to obstruct officials trying to retrieve them.
Trump held a rally after his first court appearance in Bedminster, New Jersey, lambasting the indictment as “the most evil and heinous abuse of power” in the nation’s history. He shared clips from the event later that night, turning to his favored all-caps missives to voice his displeasure.
“POLITICAL PERSECUTION!” the former president wrote on Truth Social late Tuesday night, sharing clips of his speech earlier that day. “They want to take away my FREEDOM because I will never let them take away your FREEDOM. They are not coming after me. They are coming after you. I just happen to be standing in their way, and I will NEVER be moving.”
Just before his arraignment, Trump called the charges a witch hunt once more but thanked his supporters in Miami for their “warm welcome.”
“ONE OF THE SADDEST DAYS IN THE HISTORY OF OUR COUNTRY,” he wrote on Truth Social. “WE ARE A NATION IN DECLINE!!!”
Trump surrendered himself to Miami authorities on Tuesday afternoon and entered a plea of not guilty to all charges levied against him by federal prosecutors last week. The former president was indicted Thursday after a monthslong investigation into his conduct surrounding the classified files he took with him to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida after his tenure in the White House.
The Justice Department charged Trump with 37 felony counts, including conspiracy to obstruct justice, willful retention of national defense information and making false statements. The full indictment, released Friday, lays out what prosecutors describe as an incredible attempt to obstruct the FBI, including allegations Trump went to great lengths to keep sensitive files, including storing some in boxes in a shower.
Trump has continued to claim he did nothing wrong and had the absolute right to take anything he wanted from the White House under the Presidential Records Act. But the law is clear that the government owns all presidential records and prosecutors appear to have homed in on his attempts to keep the documents despite repeated efforts — and subpoenas — demanding their return.
“They’re the government’s documents — they’re official records,” Trump’s former attorney general, William Barr, said on Fox News this weekend. “They’re not his personal records. Battle plans for an attack on another country or Defense Department documents about our capabilities are in no universe Donald J. Trump’s personal documents.”
The former president is expected to leverage his anger at the charges as he continues his bid for the Republican nomination in the 2024 presidential race. His campaign is already fundraising on the back of the indictment.