The former US president’s trial over classified documents is set to begin on May 20
Former US President Donald Trump could be sent to prison “for a long time” when a verdict is delivered in his upcoming trial over alleged mishandling of sensitive government documents, an attorney linked to the US Democrats has warned.
Last June, Trump was charged with 37 felony counts amid claims that he illegally retained highly sensitive national security information at his South Florida residence. These included top-secret details of Washington’s nuclear capabilities and its strategies in the event of an attack on the US or its allies.
Prosecutors, led by Special Counsel Jack Smith, claim that Trump rejected requests by federal officials to return the documents – some of which were stored in publicly accessible locations in Mar-a-Lago, including in an unsecured bathroom. Trump has denied all allegations of wrongdoing and has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
“People forget how damaging the evidence is in that Florida case,” Marc Elias, who represented the Democratic National Committee (DNC) between 2009 and 2023, said on MSNBC’s The Weekend on Sunday.
“It is literally about a former president of the United States stealing highly classified sensitive documents from the United States government, treating them cavalierly, showing them to people, storing them willy-nilly.”
Elias said that the evidence, when it is delivered in the trial in over three months’ time, could be “devastating to him politically, adding that “it puts him in real prospect of going to prison for a long time.”
The indictment marked the first time that a former US president faced criminal charges from a federal government he once led. Trump received another federal indictment in August 2023 over his alleged attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 US presidential election.
He also faces separate charges over allegations of falsifying business records in New York, and for a conspiracy to undermine election results in the US state of Georgia.
Trump, who is the clear frontrunner to claim the Republican nomination to challenge likely Democratic candidate Joe Biden in November’s election. In a head-to-head poll published by NBC News on Sunday, Trump beat Biden by five points, 47%-42%.
However, the same poll found that in the event that Trump is convicted of a felony Biden would lead by 45%-43%.
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