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Here are the legal next steps in the Trump documents case

Police officers are pictured outside the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. United States Courthouse before the arraignment of former President Donald Trump in Miami on Tuesday.
Giorgio Viera
AFP via Getty Images
Police officers are pictured outside the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. United States Courthouse before the arraignment of former President Donald Trump in Miami on Tuesday.

Updated June 14, 2023 at 5:52 PM ET

Former President Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to the slew of federal charges against him for storing dozens of classified documents at his Florida resort and refusing to return them to the FBI and the National Archives.

Special counsel Jack Smith wants the trial to move quickly — a "speedy" trial legally begins within 70 days — but there's a lot that could get in the way of that.

Here's what you need to know about the legal next steps in this case:

The next court date

Trump's co-defendant and aide Walt Nauta was processed in the Miami courthouse Tuesday alongside Trump, but did not have the legal representation to enter a plea for himself. He is expected to appear in court on June 27.

Potential delays

Beyond that, there will be a series of status conferences and other procedural matters, including any pretrial motions regarding the classified information at the center of the case or other procedural protests from the Trump legal team.

Trump's lawyers might file motions alleging selective prosecution, for example, that could delay the trial potentially even after the 2024 election.

Another point of contention could be the government's use of the "crime-fraud exception," which overrides attorney-client privilege when that communication is in furtherance of a crime. The indictment against Trump includes the allegation that he led one of his lawyers to mislead investigators in the case.

Restrictions on defendants

On the government's to-do list: provide a list of witnesses with whom Trump and Nauta are not allowed to communicate about the case except through attorneys. That includes each other. There was a lengthy exchange during the hearing on this point — whether they could communicate at all and who would be on the list — indicating this could be a point of contention going forward. Read the transcript of the arraignment here.

Legal representation

Christopher Kise and Todd Blanche represented Trump at the arraignment hearing on Tuesday and are expected to continue on as part of his legal team. But Trump has a history of being a challenging client.

Two lawyers who had been working with Trump on this case quit the day that the indictment was unsealed, and Trump's options for legal representation are narrowing. The case requires specific knowledge around national security, for example, and other high-profile lawyers are reportedly not willing to work on the case.

Other cases happening in parallel

This is not the only investigation of Trump:

  • He has already been indicted by the Manhattan district attorney. The trial there is set to begin in March 2024, in the thick of primary season.
  • Smith, the Justice Department special counsel, is also looking at Trump's actions around the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
  • Plus, a Georgia grand jury is investigating efforts to pressure local election officials to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. 
  • Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    NPR Washington Desk