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What to expect when Trump appears in federal court on Tuesday


So what might we expect on Tuesday when former President Trump heads to that federal court in Miami? Who better to turn to than Jay Weaver? He's covered federal courts for The Miami Herald since 1999. Thank you for being with us.

JAY WEAVER: Thank you for having me.

RASCOE: So there is a lot of inflammatory language surrounding all of this, a lot of attention. What kind of security and other preparations are underway at the courthouse and in the city of Miami?

WEAVER: Well, as your audience knows, in south Florida, we just started the beginning of the official hurricane season. And even though there are no tropical storms out there, you might say that the Trump indictment and Trump's appearance on Tuesday in federal court in Miami is going to be our first hurricane. And there's going to be a lot of preparation for it.

Local police are doing everything to set up for it. The U.S. marshals are doing everything to set up for it. The court security officers who work under them - there is the probation office. There is Secret Service. There are any number of agencies that will be working to prepare for his appearance.

RASCOE: People are often, you know, wondering in cases like this, will Trump be handcuffed? Will he be fingerprinted? Will the public see him? Do you know anything about that?

WEAVER: The public won't see him. I mean, the reality is that when he surrenders, it'll probably be done through an underground garage. He will be transported through a tunnel to the main federal courthouse, the Wilkie D. Ferguson Courthouse. And it is there where the marshals and the probation office will put him through pretrial services. He'll be booked, processed. He will be electronically fingerprinted. I doubt he would be handcuffed. There would be no need for it, you know, under the circumstances. The Secret Service agents will be there with him every step of the way.

And he would remain in custody until he has to have his first appearance at 3 p.m. on Tuesday before either the district court judge who's been assigned the case or possibly a magistrate judge who would customarily handle the first appearance dealing with, you know, who the lawyer is for Trump, the bond issue, possibly even an arraignment that day since he's already been indicted.

RASCOE: Trump was, of course, arraigned in Manhattan back in April on state charges. Is there any significant difference now that he's facing federal charges as far as the process?

WEAVER: You know, it's a similar process, but the big difference is you're not going to see television cameras capturing his every move as he enters the courthouse to appear in the courtroom. They're not allowed in the federal court. And so that really sort of limits the access and view of the president, you know, as he, you know, starts the process of appearing before a judge in the federal court. So that will be a big difference.

RASCOE: Judge Aileen Cannon will oversee Trump's first court appearance. Remind us about her and her connection to this case.

WEAVER: Well, she has a very strong connection to this case. First of all, Trump nominated her as a federal court judge. She became a federal court judge after he lost the election in November 2020. But then not long after, she was at the center of a big dispute over the FBI's search of the president's home in Mar-a-Lago and ruled very favorably for him as far as his legal team having access to those documents. She was completely overturned by an 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta and slammed on her decision in that case.

And now she's been assigned to, randomly, off the wheel, this big historic case. So the reality is she may recuse herself. She - only she could possibly do it. Or she may stay on it regardless of the past experience with the other case, where she gained a lot of notoriety for all the wrong reasons.

RASCOE: So one of the big questions is how fast or slow this might go. We know that the special counsel said he wants a speedy trial. Everyone in the U.S. has a right to a speedy trial, but that doesn't always happen. You know, the courts can move very slowly. What does your experience tell you about what will happen in this case?

WEAVER: Well, generally speaking, federal court cases move faster than state court cases for lots of reasons. It has to do with, you know, the whole process of going through evidence and dealing with witnesses, etc. But in this case, what's going to be, you know, distinctive is this. A speedy trial means that 70 days after the president, the former president, is arraigned - and that could possibly happen on Tuesday - you know, he would have the opportunity to go to trial if he wanted to, but it's highly unlikely that it would happen that quickly because there's going to be motions to dismiss this case.

There's going to be motions to dismiss it on the basis of selective prosecution. You prosecuted me, but you didn't prosecute, you know, Hillary Clinton or President Joe Biden for possessing, you know, classified documents, as well. There'll be issues over change of venue and moving the case from Miami to West Palm Beach. There'll be issues most significantly over what are called Classified Protection Act issues. And these are classified documents, so there will have to be a special expert assigned through the Justice Department to handle these records, almost kind of like a filter expert who then provides these documents to each side.

Each side has to have clearances, including the defense attorney, so that can delay the process and change the course of the case in a way that, you know, could cause delays. How much? I can't say. But, you know, are we going to see a trial later this year? That would be pretty quick, you know? Is it going to spill into next year? More likely - right in the smack-dab of the presidential election season.

RASCOE: That's Miami Herald reporter Jay Weaver. Thank you for being with us.

WEAVER: Well, thank you very much for having me. Appreciate it.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.

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