-June 14, 2023, News/Comments
MIAMI – A man in a prison costume, another in Uncle Sam’s garb and another as a circus barker vied for the attention of the media scrum outside the courthouse Tuesday as Donald Trump prepared to become the first former president in the nation’s history to face federal criminal charges.
It’s the second criminal indictment for Trump who faces charges in New York on state charges. But the stakes are far higher here: Trump faces potentially dozens of years in prison for his alleged mishandling of national security secrets. The spectacle matched the stakes as local, national and international reporters jockeyed for position, and Trump supporters such as election denier Kari Lake sought to whip up the crowd.
On Sunday, Lake hinted at violence, warning that if prosecutors “want to get to President Trump,” they’re ”going to have to go through me, and 75 million Americans just like me. And most of us are card-carrying members of the NRA.”
The number of protesters who had turned out by early Tuesday afternoon was far fewer than up to 50,000 people Miami law-enforcement authorities said they were prepared to handle.
About 1,000 demonstrators joined the swarm of journalists outside the courthouse — all drawn by what one called “a historical day in American history.”
Trump landed in Miami around 3 p.m. Monday and got whisked away by a waiting SUV. He’s staying at Trump National Doral in Miami rather than his Mar-a-Lago resort because of its proximity to the courthouse.
He arrived at the federal courthouse in Miami Tuesday afternoon for his arraignment as the first former president to face federal criminal charges, flanked by Secret Service agents and shepherded in a motorcade of black SUVs signaling his previous station. He was later placed under arrest.
Chaos as motorcade departs courthouse
Later, as Trump left the courthouse, a man was tackled by authorities and placed under arrest after he attempted to run in front of the former president’s motorcade.
Dominic Santana, 61, held a sign outside the courthouse reading “Lock him up,” and was dressed in a striped prisoner’s outfit. Santana, who lives in Miami but is originally from Cuba, told reporters earlier in the day that while he could not show his “disdain for Cuban government he could for the U.S. government.”
The motorcade proceeded without incident after Santana was tackled and detained by law enforcement officials.
Encouraging supporters to join a protest
Trump encouraged supporters to join a planned protest at the Miami courthouse Tuesday, where he will faced his charges and surrendered to authorities.
Trump’s indictment represented an assault on “freedom” to Kevin Caldwell of Fort Lauderdale. He stood in front of the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. U.S. Courthouse with a U.S. flag.
“What we are seeing today is a broken America,” Caldwell said. “America is under attack. Our freedoms are under attack.”
Gregg Donovan of Los Angeles stood in front of the courthouse’s east entrance with a Trump-DeSantis 2024 sign.
‘It’s going to make him win’
“It’s going to make him win,” said Donovan, who said he had been on the property since 5 a.m., “and then he’ll pardon himself.”
Miami police Chief Manuel Morales had predicted downtown Miami could see as many as 50,000 protesters. He promised the city would be prepared for unrest and could block streets if necessary.
On Monday evening, Lake, who lost her bid for Arizona governor last fall but became a MAGA star by denying the election’s results, drew 600 people to Club 47 in West Palm Beach. She promised to attend a rally to support Trump at the courthouse. Another group, known as Pro-Lifers 4 Trump, also had planned to protest there.
Trump’s supporters have insisted the federal prosecution in South Florida, along with the felony case that was filed in New York at the end of March, will boost Trump’s 2024 White House comeback campaign.
A USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll released Tuesday shows President Joe Biden leading Trump by a narrow margin, 2 percentage points, 34% to 32%. Pollsters said both men have “seen significant erosion among voters due to concerns about Biden’s age and Trump’s legal woes” even as voters listed inflation as their top concern.
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