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Trump indictment timeline: What's next for the federal documents case?

What happens after Trump's arraignment?
What happens after Trump's arraignment? 07:04

Former President Donald Trump was arraigned Tuesday, marking the beginning of the court proceedings on his federal indictment. 

Special counsel Jack Smith, who brought the charges, says he's seeking a "speedy trial," "consistent with the public interest and the rights of the accused." But "speedy" in the federal justice system is a relative term. It may be months before Trump's trial begins. 

So, what comes next after Trump's arraignment, where the former president pleaded "not guilty" to more than three dozen federal charges, including willful retention of classified information and obstruction of justice, over his handling of classified documents post-presidency?

Trump arraigned in Florida

Trump was arrainged at the Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. U.S. Courthouse in Miami, Florida, after the indictment was filed in the Southern District of Florida. Most of the alleged crimes described in the indictment occurred in or around Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach. 

The former president surrendered to U.S. marshals at the federal courthouse in downtown Miami to be booked and processed. He pleaded not guilty to all 37 felony counts against him. 

Bill Hennessy

Cameras are prohibited in the courthouse, so the public did not get a glimpse of him during his arraignment. A group of media organizations sought to allow some photos to be taken, but the judge rejected the request. The courthouse complex is connected by underground tunnels, making it easier for Trump to enter and depart out of public view.

At Trump's arraignment, which lasted around 45 minutes, Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman set deadlines for federal prosecutors to turn over the evidence they've gathered to the defense. Then, court will adjourn until a later date. 

Discovery order

Florida's Southern District typically uses a standing discovery order directing both parties to turn over evidence to the other, but primarily requiring the government, to hand over all evidence to the defense. That's usually within 14 days, said Richard Serafini, a criminal defense attorney and former Justice Department senior trial attorney with two decades of experience in South Florida. 

But Serafini said the timeline may be extended, particularly because discovery in this case  involves classified documents, and it might not be possible to figure out how to provide those to the former president's legal team quickly. 

Trump attorneys who review the evidence will need security clearances, which could take some time, too, Serafini noted. 

Trump pre-trial motions

After the arraignment, Trump's legal team may file motions, for instance, to move to dismiss the case or exclude certain evidence from being presented at trial. 

Former Trump lawyer Timothy Parlatore told CBS News that he expects Trump's legal team to file a motion to dismiss the case, arguing prosecutorial misconduct. Parlatore believes some of the questions he was asked by prosecutors involved issues protected by attorney-client privilege, which struck him as an improper line of questioning. 

Some of the key evidence in the indictment comes from one of Trump's attorneys, Evan Corcoran. He cited attorney-client privilege to avoid testifying before the Washington, D.C., grand jury earlier this year, but the special counsel sought to compel him to appear, citing the "crime-fraud exception," which means that the privilege does not shield communications between a lawyer and client that were sought or obtained to further the commission of a crime. 

But Trump's attorneys may seek to have his testimony excluded from the Florida case on the same attorney-client privilege grounds that a judge in Washington rejected.

Legal experts expect to see Trump's lawyers try to stretch out the case for as long as they can, if they cannot get the case dismissed.

"Trump's best defense here is to delay until he thinks he could get into office and therefore be in charge of the Justice Department again," said Cheryl Bader, associate professor of Law at Fordham University. 

The federal Speedy Trial Act says the government must bring a case to trial within 70 days of an indictment, but this deadline may be extended. 

At the same time, Trump is contending with a separate indictment by the state of New York on felony charges of falsifying business records. That trial isn't expected to begin until early 2024, when the first Republicans will be casting their votes in the 2024 GOP primaries. 

Trump will keep campaigning amid indictment his former attorney general says is "very detailed" and "very, very damning"

Politically, Trump is expected to continue to defend himself and his actions to voters, to portray the special counsel's case against him as a "witch hunt" and "political hit job" and to use it as a fundraising tool.

Still, that doesn't diminish the seriousness of the special counsel's charges, underscored by Trump's former attorney general, Bill Barr. 

"Even if half of [the indictment] is true, then he's toast," Barr told Fox News Sunday. "It's a very detailed indictment, and it's very, very damning." 

Trump told Politico over the weekend he won't drop out of the 2024 presidential race, even if he's convicted. 

"I'll never leave," Trump said aboard his private plane.

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