In a video posted on social media on Monday, one fan who had gathered outside his Doral Resort warned that “there are a lot of boys like me that are ready. We are ready. All we need is an order.”
Earlier, Trump’s son’s fiancé Kimberly Guilfoyle posted a photo of the former president with the words, “Retribution Is Coming,” in all capital letters, while Arizona Republican Andy Biggs warned: “Eye for an Eye.”
Trump has been criminally charged with 37 counts alleging that he “willfully” kept classified documents he wasn’t authorised to have after leaving the White House, and then schemed to thwart the federal government’s efforts to retrieve them.
The documents included some of the country’s most sensitive secrets, from information relating to nuclear programs and military vulnerabilities, to intelligence that should have only been shared with the “Five Eyes” countries, including Australia.
Many of the documents were also carelessly stored in boxes all over his Mar-a-Lago resort, the 49-page indictment alleges, including “in a ballroom, a bathroom and shower, an office space, his bedroom, and a storage room”.
The latest indictment marks Trump’s second appearance as a criminal defendant and comes only two months after he was arraigned in New York for falsifying business records related to hush money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels.
However, unlike the state-based New York indictment, which some legal experts derided as a weak case and relatively trivial, prosecutors say the federal indictment goes to the heart of national security, which could have been placed at risk had any of the material fallen into the wrong hands.
Trump is expected to plead not guilty to the charges and has vowed to continue campaigning for the nomination to run as the Republican candidate in the 2024 presidential election. On Monday, he left his Bedminster golf club in New Jersey and returned to Florida, arriving at his Trump National Doral Resort shortly before 4pm.
He was accompanied by a large entourage that included his personal aid Walt Nauta, who was also charged for his role as a co-conspirator for helping to move boxes in a bid to hide them from investigators.
After his court appearance, he will return to New Jersey, where he will publicly respond to the charges in a speech and also hold a private fundraiser.
With 17 months until the next election, Trump is currently the frontrunner to win his party’s nomination and so far, most Republicans have stood by him, furious by what they see as the “weaponisation” of the Justice Department and FBI under Joe Biden.
Biden is also under investigation by a Special Counsel over his own handling of classified documents, some of which were found in the garage of the president’s Delaware home – something that Speaker Kevin McCarthy cited to justify Trump’s actions on Monday.
Asked by reporters if it was “a good look” for Trump to be caught storing classified documents in the bathroom of Mar-a-Lago’s Lake Room, McCarthy responded: “I don’t know — is it a good picture to have boxes in a garage that opens up all the time? A bathroom door locks.”
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