Security Ratchets up Ahead of Trump Arraignment in Miami

June 12, 2023

How likely is it that there will be violent protests in response to Donald Trump's arraignment?

Federal and local officials began ramping up security over the weekend in preparation for former President Trump’s arraignment Tuesday, following his indictment over retaining classified documents.

Trump was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury in Florida on 37 criminal counts, including 31 counts for willful retention of national defense secrets in violation of the Espionage Act, as well as one count of making false statements and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, one count of withholding a document or record, one count of corruptly concealing a document or record, one count of concealing a document in a federal investigation, one count of a scheme to conceal. 

Authorities in Florida have already announced that many of the roads would be closed in the area around the Federal Courthouse in Miami, while Miami Police Chief Manny Morales said Friday, “The Miami Police Department is ready to ensure the safety of the city.” 

The U.S. Marshal Service (USMS), which provides security around the courthouse, is coordinating with local law enforcement. “Ensuring that judges can rule independently and free from harm or intimidation is paramount to the rule of law, and a fundamental mission of the USMS,” the agency said in a statement.

Security has ramped up not just in downtown Miami but also nationwide. FBI special agents across the country have been actively working to identify possible threats amid escalating rhetoric that has arisen in the wake of Trump’s indictment, from inside the halls of Congress as well as online.

“We have now reached a war phase,” Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) tweeted Friday. “Eye for an eye.” 

Biggs’ office later attempted to clarify, saying his comment was a call for Republicans to “step up and use their procedural tools” to counter “the Left’s weaponization” of federal law enforcement.

Failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake (R)—who like Biggs is a 2020 election denier—told a crowd at the Republican convention in Georgia Friday night, “And I’m going to tell you, most of us are card-carrying members of the NRA,” adding, “That’s not a threat, that’s a public service announcement.”

Authorities were also monitoring plans for pro-Trump rallies in Miami, including one outside the federal courthouse on Tuesday purportedly organized by a local chapter of far-right extremist group the Proud Boys, some of whose leaders have been found guilty of seditious conspiracy for their roles in the deadly January 6, 2021 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol.

The grand jury’s federal indictment follows a search warranted raid on August 8 by FBI agents on Trump’s Florida country club residence, Mar-a-Lago. According to the unsealed indictment, agents found more than 100 documents marked classified during their search of the property. Boxes stored in places such as “a ballroom, a bathroom & a shower, an office space, his bedroom and a storage room” included classified information from such federal agencies as the CIA, Pentagon, NSA, and the National Reconnaissance Office, among others.

In November, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed veteran career prosecutor Jack Smith as special counsel in the investigation.

Tuesday marks the second time in just over two months that Trump is facing criminal arraignment.

In April Trump was arraigned on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records and conspiracy related to his role in hush money payments during the 2016 campaign season—a first in U.S. history. That indictment came down in New York State court. 

The grand jury in Florida’s indictment is another historic first—the charging of a former U.S. President with federal crimes.

PHOTO: Wilkie D. Ferguson U.S. Courthouse in Miami

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