Newshub US Correspondent says Donald Trump is in 'whole lot of trouble' ahead of his court appearance

Newshub's US Correspondent says former President Donald Trump could go to jail after being criminally charged for the second time in months as his legal nightmares continue. 

Trump is due to appear in a federal courthouse in Miami on Wednesday (NZ time) to make his initial appearance on the charges, which include the willful retention of highly sensitive national defence records under the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice, making false statements, conspiracy and concealment.

A 37-count indictment was made public on Friday (local time), with 31 of the charges relating to secret and top-secret classified documents that he kept after leaving the White House in early 2021.

The indictment alleges Trump stored documents in a haphazard manner at his home in Florida and refused to give them back to the Government. 

It also alleges he tried to hide them from the FBI and even his own attorney after a grand jury issued him a subpoena demanding he turns over all records bearing classified markings.

"Trump stored his boxes containing classified documents in various locations at The Mar-a-Lago Club - including in a ballroom, a bathroom and shower, an office space, his bedroom, and a storage room," according to the indictment.

Newshub US Correspondent Mitch McCann told AM on Tuesday since Trump allegedly tried to obstruct officials, it could land him in a "lot of trouble". 

"It's illegal for anyone in the United States to hold classified documents in an unauthorised location like this one, that's the allegation," he said. 

"But what goes further than that is they say Donald Trump tried to obstruct officials - that's the FBI and the Justice Department - when they tried to get those documents back. So he's in a whole lot of trouble. Those charges could see him go to jail for decades." 

The BBC reports the indictment said the charges under the Espionage Act carry a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years.

The charges related to conspiracy and withholding or concealing documents, each carry maximum sentences of 20 years.

The other charges of scheme to conceal, and false statements and representations carry sentences of five years each.

Trump touched down in Florida, arriving from his golf club in New Jersey, ahead of Wednesday's court appearance.

Republican presidential candidate former US President Donald Trump arrives at Miami International Airport in Florida.
Republican presidential candidate former US President Donald Trump arrives at Miami International Airport in Florida. Photo credit: Getty Images

Earlier this year, Trump became the first former US President to face criminal charges, when he was indicted in a case stemming from a 2016 hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.

He now has the unwanted honour of making history again and becoming the first former US President to face federal criminal prosecution. 

McCann told AM it was a "significant week" for US legal history. 

"This is not just significant for Donald Trump, this is a significant week for United States legal history. This is the first time ever a former president of the United States has faced federal criminal charges and it is much bigger than that case in New York a couple of months ago," McCann told AM co-host Michael O'Keeffe. 

"That case was brought against him by the district attorney in New York. This is the United States Government versus Donald Trump."

McCann said Miami will be "locked down" with officers reportedly told not to take Wednesday off. 

"Security is going to be really, really tight, particularly around Miami and the downtown courthouse, the federal courthouse tomorrow… We know the police officers in Miami have been told they are not allowed to take tomorrow off because they want as many cops surrounding the courthouse as they can," McCann said. 

"As for plainclothes police officers, that's undercover cops, they've been told, according to reports, they should wear the uniform tomorrow because they want as much police visibility as possible. So you can expect downtown Miami to be completely locked down."

After the charges were unsealed on Friday, Trump alleged that President Joe Biden orchestrated the criminal charges to undermine his main political rival's presidential campaign.

The Justice Department maintains that all its investigative decisions are made without regard to partisan politics and Biden has said he would not get involved in the Trump probe.

"The ridiculous and baseless indictment of me by the Biden administration's weaponized department of injustice will go down as among the most horrific abuses of power in the history of our country," Trump told supporters at Georgia's state Republican convention on Saturday (local time). 

"This vicious persecution is a travesty of justice."  

Watch the full interview with Mitch McCann in the video above.