Former President Donald Trump touched down in Miami on Monday afternoon, a day before he is expected to make his first appearance in court to face federal charges that he willfully retained scores of documents that contained some of the nation’s most sensitive military secrets.
But without a local lawyer to represent him in court, Tuesday’s appearance could be cut short, sources familiar with the matter told NBC News. In that case, Trump would go to the courthouse to surrender, but his arraignment and plea may be delayed, according to NBC.
As of 5 p.m. EST Monday, Trump and his co-defendant and personal valet, Walt Nauta, had not yet named an attorney who was admitted to appear before judges in the Southern District of Florida, according to the court docket for his case.
The two lead attorneys who had been representing Trump in the case resigned Friday, just one day after Trump announced he had been indicted.
“For purposes of fighting the Greatest Witch Hunt of all time, now moving to the Florida Courts, I will be represented by Todd Blanche, Esq., and a firm to be named later,” Trump said on social media Friday.
Blanche, who is based in New York, is not a member of the Bar of the Southern District of Florida. A source with direct knowledge later told NBC that Blanche traveled with Trump to Florida. While it is unclear if another lawyer will join the former president Tuesday, judges sometimes allow attorneys not admitted in their district to represent a defendant at a court appearance.
The 2024 GOP presidential front-runner is facing a 37-count federal indictment, filed last week by special counsel Jack Smith. The charges mark the first time a former U.S. president has been charged with a federal crime.
Trump traveled to Florida from his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey. It was unclear whether his wife, former first lady Melania Trump, would join him in court Tuesday.
Trump did not speak to reporters or cameras set up along his travel route Monday, but he posted repeatedly on his social media platform, Truth Social.
There, he pledged if he were elected to a second term in 2024, he would appoint a “real special ‘prosecutor’ to go after” his successor, President Joe Biden, and “all others involved” with what Trump called “the destruction of our elections, borders and country itself.”
Trump’s call for revenge came amid several other posts in which he decried what he called the “weaponization” of the justice system.
Trump also took public shots at Republicans who did not endorse him, notably Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, who backed 2024 GOP hopeful Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over the weekend.