Donald Trump has been indicted in Federal Court in Florida on two counts
Inside the Miami courthouse, Mr Trump and his legal team were measure in approach. One of his lawyers told the Judge that the former President was pleading not guilty to all 37 charges relating to his alleged mishandling of US government secrets.
There was some back-and-forth argument over the kind of contact Mr Trump could have with potential witnesses, before he was released without any restrictions on his travel. Yet, outside the courthouse and on social media matters were very different.
Throughout the day, the former President posted comments to his Truth Social website, insulting special counsel Jack Smith and questioning why he has not been investigating alleged crimes by Democrats.
“One of the saddest days in the history of our country” he wrote. “We are a nation in decline”!
That is standard Trump rhetorical fare, launching his fiercest attacks when he feels most threatened.
The other message Mr Trump sent following his arraignment was a more subtle political one, all be it delivered with his typical showmanship. His motorcade stopped at Versailles Restaurant, a Cuban cafe and bakery popular with residents of the Little Havana neighbourhood and tourists alike. Whilst there, he shook hands, took pictures and made brief remarks, as patrons serenaded the soon to be 77 year old former President with a rendition of “happy birthday”.
It looked and felt like a typical meet-and-greet for a political campaigner in a key battleground state. It was evidence that Mr Trump was marching forward with his campaign to return to The White House. That is not exactly the greatest news for his Republican political rivals who have been trying to work out how to respond to his latest indictment.
Some, like Chris Christie and Asa Hutchinson have gone onto the attack and criticised the former President’s conduct and calling for him to end his campaign.
Ron DeSantis, the closest to Mr Trump in the polls, has directed his fire at federal prosecutors. It is perhaps a reflection that the Florida Governor is especially wary of angering Trump supporters, whom the polls show frequently as their second choice. Former Vice-President Mike Pence and Trump Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley fall somewhere in the middle, seeking to walk a fine line between criticising Mr Trump and not upsetting Republican supporters.
Last week, Ms Haley said the indictment “is not how justice should be pursued in our country”. On Monday she slammed trump for being “incredibly reckless” with national security. On Tuesday, she stood by then remark , but went on to say she would be “inclined” to pardon Mr trump if she were to become President.
“It would be terrible for our country to have a former President in prison for years because of a documents case”, she said.
All of this appears to complicate matters as republicans move onto a “political-war footing”.
“We are not going to stand for it, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy said of the indictment. Republicans in the Chamber are promising an aggressive investigation of the justice department’s handling of the case. Senator JD Vance of Ohio pledged to slow down confirmation of three of President Biden’s nominees to the justice department, threatening to “grind his department to a halt”.
Who knows what is going to happen next??