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Trump is expected to appear in a Miami court on Tuesday. Here's what to expect

Donald Trump delivers remarks Saturday in Greensboro, N.C.
Win McNamee
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Getty Images
Donald Trump delivers remarks Saturday in Greensboro, N.C.

Updated June 12, 2023 at 3:46 PM ET

Former President Donald Trump is expected to appear in a Miami courthouse on Tuesday following last week's unsealing of a federal indictment accusing him of mishandling classified documents.

Trump is facing 37 federal charges, including obstruction and unlawful retention of defense information. Federal prosecutors say Trump illegally stored dozens of highly sensitive documents everywhere from bathrooms to ballrooms at his Florida resort, refusing to return them to the FBI and National Archives.

Trump's appearance at the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. U.S. Courthouse on Tuesday will mark his second appearance as a criminal defendant. He was also arraigned in a New York courthouse in April on charges of falsifying business records related to hush money payments.

Still, Tuesday's court appearance is likely to mark a new era in his winding political tenure as the charges levied against him grow in number and severity, all as he mounts a 2024 presidential reelection bid.

Here's what to expect as the political world watches.

Will Trump be taken into custody?

Trump's hearing is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET, according to the former president and his lawyers. But before he can appear in court, he'll need to surrender for pretrial services, including booking and processing.

There's a good chance the public won't see any of this happening, says Jay Weaver, a long-time court reporter with the Miami Herald.

Weaver told NPR's Weekend Edition that the federal courthouse is connected to an underground garage. That tunnel could provide a secure spot for Trump to be electronically finger-printed.

As for handcuffs and a mugshot? Those steps probably won't be necessary in this controlled environment with such a high-profile figure, Weaver says. Skipping both of those steps would be consistent with what transpired ahead of his Manhattan arraignment in April.

One unknown is when, precisely, the pretrial processing might happen.

As of Monday afternoon, Trump's private plane had arrived in Miami.

Trump is scheduled to make remarks at a fundraising event in Bedminster again on Tuesday night. He took a similar tactic after also being arraigned in New York in April, taking to his home turf in Mar-a-Lago in Florida for a campaign speech in which he described himself as an innocent man and political martyr.

Will the hearing be televised?

Nope. Unlike with the Manhattan court appearance, cameras are not allowed in the federal court.

Some reporters will be allowed to watch and share electronic updates though, so the public will get an account of what transpires.

What will happen inside the courtroom?

Trump arrives at the courtroom at the Manhattan Criminal Court in New York in April.
Ed Jones / AFP via Getty Images
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AFP via Getty Images
Trump arrives at the courtroom at the Manhattan Criminal Court in New York in April.

It's unclear which judge will oversee Tuesday's hearing, but we do know his case has been assigned to Judge Aileen M. Cannon, and it could be the first time the two come face-to-face.

Trump appointed Cannon to the bench in 2020. She surprised legal experts by ruling in Trump's favor last summer, appointing a special master to review documents seized by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago. The move temporarily stopped federal prosecutors from continuing their investigation into the documents.

If Trump is convicted and Cannon remains on the case, she would be responsible for determining the sentence, including any prison time.

It's unclear whether Trump will return for an arraignment at a later date or enter his plea on Tuesday.

His attorney Alina Habba, who is not part of the team representing him in the classified documents case, told Fox News on Sunday that Trump would not plan to seek a plea deal — "especially when he's not done anything wrong," she added. "He would never admit guilt."

Trump's personal aide, Walt Nauta, has also been summoned to appear in court at the same time. Nauta is listed as a co-defendant in the case, with federal prosecutors saying he helped Trump move and hide boxes of classified documents.

What will happen outside the court? Will there be protests and rallies?

In another similarity with the Manhattan court appearance, Trump is again asking his supporters to mobilize for protest.

"We need strength at this point. Everyone is afraid to do anything. They're afraid to talk. They have to go out and protest peacefully," Trump said in a radio interview hosted by his former advisor, Roger Stone, on Sunday afternoon.

"It is essential that they keep it peaceful, civil and legal," Stone emphasized.

Laura Loomer, a right-wing activist, tweeted about plans for a "peaceful rally" outside the courthouse, urging attendees to bring pro-Trump attire and "love" for the former president.

But not all of Trump's supporters were using words like "peaceful" in discussing plans of action.

Kari Lake, the Republican firebrand from Arizona, alluded to possible violence in a press conference on Saturday, saying, "We're at war, people," and "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."

Lake is planning a rally in support of Trump in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Monday night.

The former president's Republican allies in Congress have also used sharp rhetoric while coming to Trump's defense, pledging to investigate the Department of Justice for a perceived weaponization of government.

Some also evoked war-like postures in social media posts about Tuesday's arraignment.

"Eye for an eye," wrote Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona. "We've now reached a war phase."

"Buckle up. 1/50K know your bridges. Rock steady calm," wrote Louisiana Rep. Clay Higgins in apparent reference to military terms. Two days later he backpedaled, telling all "patriots" not to "trip the wire" the mainstream media laid.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez repeatedly said during a press conference Monday that he believes in the Constitution and people's right to express their First Amendment right to protest, "but we also believe in law and order."

Police Chief Manny Morales also spoke during the conference to brief the city ahead of the expected protests.

"Since the moment the announcement was made, we have been planning and preparing to ensure that the city of Miami is safe and secure," Morales said. "I can assure all our residents, our stakeholders and the visitors that are in the city at this time that we are working very closely with our federal, state and local partners to make sure that we have a comprehensive approach."

Morales said officials are maintaining a unified command post to coordinate a police response and emergency services in the city.

Suarez said he is confident in the police department's ability to maintain order and peace ahead of Trump's court appearance given Miami's past experience in handling protests after George Floyd's death that lasted days in the city.

Morales said any plans for street closures or detours will be made tomorrow depending on the size of crowds.

When will the case go to trial?

Special counsel Jack Smith pledged on Friday that he and his team would work to ensure the former president received a speedy trial — but it's unclear that the president's legal team would choose speed themselves.

Federal law stipulates that a "speedy trial" is one that starts no later than 70 days after an arraignment. But that doesn't account for defense motions, and in this case, there could be plenty, according to Weaver.

"There's going to be motions to dismiss it on the basis of selective prosecution," he told NPR on Saturday. "You prosecuted me, but you didn't prosecute Hillary Clinton or President Joe Biden for possessing classified documents, as well."

Weaver is also expecting delays over the choice of venue (a possible move to West Palm Beach, which could see a jury pool more favorable to Trump) and delays related to the Classified Protection Act (the defense attorney might need a security clearance just to review the records included as evidence).

That means a trial could land right in the thick of Trump's 2024 presidential campaign — as the former president told Politico this weekend, he'd stump from prison if necessary.

"I'll never leave," Trump reportedly said. "Look, if I would have left, I would have left prior to the original race in 2016. That was a rough one."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Emily Olson
Emily Olson is on a three-month assignment as a news writer and live blog editor, helping shape NPR's digital breaking news strategy.
Jaclyn Diaz is a reporter on Newshub.