Trump indictment: What happens next?

Walt Nauta, the former president's valet and co-defendant, is due back in court later this month, but no trial date has been set.

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Former President Donald Trump delivers remarks at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.

Former President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty in federal court in Miami on Tuesday to all charges stemming from a 37-count indictment in the Justice Department’s investigation into his handling of classified documents and alleged efforts to obstruct the probe. Trump, who became the first former U.S. president ever to face criminal charges when he was indicted in Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s hush money case in April, is now the first to face federal charges.

And there may be more indictments coming. Last month, Fani Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, Ga., hinted that she might bring charges against Trump later this summer in connection with his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss in the state. WSB-TV in Atlanta reported that the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office sent a team to Miami on Tuesday to observe the city’s security precautions for Trump’s arraignment.

Yahoo News spoke with several legal experts about what to expect now that the former president has entered a plea in Florida.

When is the next court date in the case?

Walt Nauta fixing the former president's collar before a LIV Golf Pro-Am golf tournament in May.
Walt Nauta fixing the former president's collar before a golf tournament at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va., on May 25. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

June 27. That’s when Walt Nauta, Trump’s valet and co-defendant, is due back in court for his arraignment on charges that he conspired with the former president to obstruct the government’s attempt to recover classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. Nauta is accused of moving boxes full of classified documents from the White House at Trump’s direction and then lying about it to investigators.

Nauta, who appeared in court alongside Trump at Tuesday’s arraignment, did not have local counsel admitted in the Southern District of Florida, so his arraignment was postponed until that date.

Trump was ordered by Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman not to talk to Nauta about the case. The two men are still able to communicate about the case through their attorneys, and Trump and Nauta are still allowed to speak to each other about matters unrelated to the case.

Nauta was seen traveling with Trump after the arraignment, joining the former president on his stop at Versailles Bakery in Miami's Little Havana.

When could the case go to trial?

A courtroom sketch shows Trump appearing alongside his attorneys inside federal court in Miami.
Trump appears alongside his attorneys inside federal court in Miami on Tuesday for his arraignment in this courtroom sketch. (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)

A trial date has not been set. Under a federal law called the Speedy Trial Act, the government is required to bring the case to trial within 70 days. But that typically doesn’t happen.

“I’m certain that the Trump team is going to file motions,” Richard Serafini, a former senior trial attorney in the Justice Department’s criminal division and a criminal defense attorney based in South Florida, told Yahoo News.

And Trump has a long history of delay tactics when it comes to litigation.

“I think it will probably take at least a year to wind its way to trial,” said Duncan Levin, a criminal defense attorney and former state prosecutor. “And at that point we’re talking about late summer of 2024.”

The Republican National Convention is slated for July 15-18, 2024, in Milwaukee, and lawyers for Trump — the frontrunner for the GOP nomination — are keenly aware of the political calendar.

“If they think it’s advantageous to delay the trial as long as possible until after the election, then they may well try and do that,” Serafini said.

What happens if Trump wins reelection before the trial begins? Could he simply tell his attorney general to drop the case?

Former President Donald Trump with his fist raised in the air after speaking at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., on Tuesday.
Trump after speaking at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., on Tuesday. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

“I suspect that’s exactly what he would try and do, and potentially be successful,” Serafini said. “I mean, I suspect if he wins the election, the first question he would ask his prospective attorney general is, ‘Are you going to drop the charges?’”

“We’re in quite theoretical territory,” Levin said. “But I think we’re in a situation where he either gets elected president or goes to jail.”

In Bedminster, N.J., on Tuesday night, Trump vowed if elected to appoint a special prosecutor to “go after” Joe Biden.

“I will appoint a real special prosecutor to go after the most corrupt president in the history of the United States,” he told his supporters before a fundraiser at his New Jersey golf club.

What is the maximum prison time Trump could face?

Trump's motorcade arrives at the federal courthouse in Miami.
Trump's motorcade arrives at the federal courthouse in Miami on Tuesday. (Wilfredo Lee/AP)

If convicted on all 37 counts, the former president could face a total of 400 years in prison, based on the maximum sentences for each charge:

• Counts 1-31: Willful retention of national defense information — 10 years each

• Count 32: Conspiracy to obstruct justice — 20 years

• Count 33: Withholding of a document or record — 20 years

• Count 34: Corruptly concealing a document or record — 20 years

• Count 35: Concealing a document in a federal investigation — 20 years

• Count 36: Scheme to conceal — 5 years

• Count 37: False statements and representations — 5 years

Should Trump really worry about going to prison?

A courtroom sketch of Donald Trump.
Trump, in a courtroom sketch, during his arraignment on Tuesday. (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)

“If he were my client and he asked me that, the answer is ‘absolutely,’” New York criminal defense lawyer Andrew Bernstein explained.

But if Trump does go to jail, don’t expect him to get anywhere near the maximum sentence, Serafini said.

“You always read about a maximum term and it’s mind-boggling,” he said. “In reality, the sentences wind up being much, much less.”