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The view from the overflow room as Trump made court appearance


This afternoon, as crowds of protesters converged in the Florida heat, Donald Trump's motorcade of black SUVs slipped into the underground garage of a federal courthouse in downtown Miami. The former president stepped into an elevator and headed to the 13th floor. No photographs or cameras were allowed inside the courtroom. Reporters had to check cellphones and laptops with court staff. It was Trump's first court appearance on federal charges about retaining classified information. Let's bring in NPR's Lexie Schapitl in Miami. Hi, Lexie.


SHAPIRO: So you were in the overflow courtroom with hundreds of other journalists. What happened in the courthouse?

SCHAPITL: Sure. So the headline here is that he pled not guilty. President Trump pled not guilty to these charges when he got to the courtroom. Before that, you know, he was booked. That's a process that includes giving your personal information. He did get his fingerprints taken digitally. He did not take a mug shot because the marshals can use an existing photo from their records because he's such a public figure. In the courtroom, Trump was in a blue suit and a red tie. He was with two lawyers representing him. He pled not guilty and then was released on his own recognizance. As a condition of this release, he - the judge ordered him to have no communication about the case with both a list of witnesses that will be provided by the government and his co-defendant, Walt Nauta.

SHAPIRO: So tell us about his demeanor. How did he react in the courtroom, particularly given how kind of blustery and aggressive he's been when talking about this in front of supporters?

SCHAPITL: Sure. So one thing to make clear is that he did not talk at all. His lawyers spoke for him in court today. And in a lot of ways, it felt like any other - excuse me - any other serious appearance for the former president. He was - had his hands clasped. He crossed his arms. And like I said, he was spoken for by his lawyers. Sorry for the frog in my throat.

SHAPIRO: No problem. This is live radio. So he didn't speak. He sat with his hands crossed, and he was - what? - subdued. Was there much facial expression at all?

SCHAPITL: Yeah, he definitely, I would say, was kind of subdued. Pretty level, I would say, was his expression - not a ton of emotion. It was, you know, a pretty good poker face, I would say, from the former president.

SHAPIRO: So what is the state of play? Where exactly does this case stand right now?

SCHAPITL: Sure. So, of course, we are talking here about 37 federal counts, including obstruction of justice and unlawful retention of defense information. This is, of course, about the storing of dozens of classified documents at his Florida resort in Mar-a-Lago and also his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., and refusing them - refusing to return them to the FBI and the National Archives. In terms of what happens next, we don't have a trial date yet. We know that, in two weeks, his co-defendant, Walt Nauta, will have to return for an arraignment. He did not offer a plea today because he has yet to retain permanent counsel. So that's what we're expecting right now in two weeks. And then we'll have to wait for more.

SHAPIRO: And then Trump left the courthouse. What next?

SHAPIRO: NPR's Lexie Schapitl. Thanks a lot.

SCHAPITL: Thank you.


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.

Lexie Schapitl is an assistant producer with NPR's Washington Desk, where she produces radio pieces, the NPR Politics Podcast, and digital content. She also reports from the field and helps run the NPR Politics social media channels.