Trump arrives in Florida ahead of court appearance

Donald Trump is spending the night in Miami, Florida, before he appears in court there on Tuesday charged with mishandling national security files.

The former US president flew from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, to his Trump Doral resort near Miami.

Mr Trump is facing dozens of charges of illegally retaining classified information, including some about nuclear secrets.

It is the second time this year he has been charged with a crime.

Mr Trump, campaigning to make a return to the White House in 2024, has denied wrongdoing as he faces the first ever federal criminal prosecution against a former US president.

He appeared muted but unflustered as he strolled into the steakhouse at his Miami golf resort on Monday evening.

Mr Trump greeted the smattering of guests at the BLT Prime restaurant with his signature thumbs-up, and even posed for a photo with a group of men enjoying their happy hour.

“With you all the way!” shouted one patron seated at the bar.

“Thank you very much,” Mr Trump replied, before security escorted him to the dining area.

The guests had an inkling of Mr Trump’s arrival when several security agents appeared and casually swept diners with metal detectors. A few had their phones ready to snap photos.

The staff, on the other hand, were nonchalant about their boss’ presence, continuing to mix drinks and serve guests.

A handful of supporters were also at the bar. One woman sipped wine with a Trump flag draped over the back of her chair.

Mr Trump has continued to strike a defiant tone. In an interview on a Spanish-language talk radio programme in Miami, he aired grievances with the indictment, while accusing the Biden administration of weaponising law enforcement agencies against him.

Meanwhile, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez told reporters the city was preparing for Mr Trump’s court appearance.

Police will be deployed in anticipation of crowds up to 50,000 people, he said, though other sources told US media the expected number was in the low thousands.

“We encourage people to be peaceful,” Mr Suarez said.

On Saturday, in his first public appearances since the charges were filed, Mr Trump said the case amounted to “election interference” by the “corrupt” FBI and justice department.

The former president will appear in court alongside a close aide, Walt Nauta, who was charged by the same grand jury in Florida.

Mr Nauta faces six criminal counts related to alleged handling of national security documents. Both men are scheduled to make their initial appearances at 15:00 local time (20:00 BST).

A federal judge denied a request by news organisations for photo and video access during Tuesday’s hearing – though a court sketch artist will be present.

Afterwards, Mr Trump is expected to return to Bedminster to make remarks to the media.

Last week’s 37-count indictment comes after more than 100 documents with classified markings were found at Mr Trump’s private Florida resort Mar-a-Lago in August.

Federal prosecutors accuse the Republican of illegally retaining documents, storing some in a ballroom and a shower at Mar-a-Lago and engaging in a conspiracy with an aide to obstruct the government’s attempts to retrieve them.

The documents allegedly contained information about the defence and weapons capabilities of both the US and foreign countries, and plans for possible retaliation in response to a foreign attack.

Mr Trump, the indictment claims, tried to obstruct the FBI inquiry into the missing files by suggesting his lawyer “hide or destroy” them, or tell investigators he did not have them.

Legal experts say the criminal charges could lead to substantial prison time if he is convicted. Mr Trump has vowed to continue his campaign for president whatever the verdict.

Mr Trump has also pointed out that classified files were also found in Mr Biden’s former office and Delaware home, including in his garage.

The White House has previously said it immediately co-operated with officials as soon as those files were discovered, a contrast with Mr Trump’s alleged efforts to obstruct investigators.

A federal investigation into Mr Biden’s handling of classified documents is being led by Special Counsel Robert Hur and is still under way.