Inside a crowded 13th-floor courtroom in Miami on Tuesday, a grim-faced Donald J. Trump leans back in the dock, chin clenched, arms crossed, back muscles visibly strained under a black suit jacket. are doing.
About 20 feet away, in the second row of the visitors’ gallery, the Special Counsel who put him there, Jack Smith, was alert and poker-faced. Smith watched three Justice Department attorneys under his supervision offer Trump a bail agreement that would allow him to be released without bond and with his approval. It was respectful, kind, but very humble.
After a 50-minute courtroom encounter, one of a kind in the history of the country, Trump exited through a dark wood-paneled back door before the 40 or so reporters crammed into the room. He peered over his shoulder with curiosity. .
After about a minute, Smith and the team walked across the room and left without a word. he didn’t look back.
The former president’s first arraignment on federal charges coincided with the first public meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Smith, the central figures in the Mar-a-Lago case. They said nothing to each other. But these most dissimilar adversaries are embroiled in legal battles with immense political and legal repercussions for polarized nations.
Trump’s body language in court suggested he understood the gravity of the situation. The ex-president, who managed to get it under control, seemed uncomfortable with having so little as a defendant.
Mr. Trump accused his indictment of a witch hunt and called Mr. Smith a “thug,” but said nothing at the hearing. The judge did not decide, Jonathan Goodmanask him one question, as sometimes happens in criminal arraignments.
Trump promised to say more later. Several of his political aides were seen outside the courthouse, mingling with a small but vocal group of supporters clamoring for support over the cutting of a helicopter hovering above.
Inside, the hearing itself was a quiet and surprisingly civil affair.
Surrounded by two attorneys, Christopher M. Kise and Todd Blanche, the former president patiently waited at least 15 minutes for Judge Goodman to enter the courtroom. Mr. Trump and Ms. Blanche huddled together, whispering in each other’s ears and sharing a laugh or two while Mr. Kise was immersed in paperwork. The former president seemed relieved for a moment.
But the mood suddenly changed at 2:45pm. Court officials said an undisclosed camera was turned on to record the hearing in the fifth-floor jury room, which was occupied by the media that day. The former president stiffened and stared straight into the camera, as if realizing the power of the lens.
Trump, who likes to appear at the White House with flags on either side, often in front of the presidential seal, found himself on the other side of the visual on Tuesday. Judge Goodman sat on a marble pedestal several feet above the rest, next to the Stars and Stripes, in the largest and most modern hearing room in the Wilkie D. Ferguson Court.
It’s not clear how much time Trump and co-defendant Walt Nauta spent in court after being previously booked and digitally fingerprinted inside the building by a U.S. Marshal. But when reporters were ushered into the room shortly after 2:40 p.m., the country’s 45th president was sitting at a table with dozens of court and security officials.
Most of the hearings focused on the details of the bond deal for Trump. Smith’s senior prosecutors have waived requests for bail and other preconditions that could be viewed as inelegant and overly restrictive. They urged Trump not to discuss the matter with Nauta, who remains on the former president’s salary as a personal aide.
Judge Goodman pushed for a tougher deal, suggesting that Trump be barred from contacting any key witnesses. Lawyers for Mr. Trump said the witnesses included people associated with Mr. Trump’s personal staff and security personnel, and it was not practical to ask Mr. Trump to cut off contact with them.
Prosecutors seemed happy to respond. David Harbach, one of Smith’s senior prosecutors, told the court that both sides would work out the details at a later date. Two previous drafts of the bond deal had already been scrapped, but a third draft deal was printed and signed by Trump. Judge Goodman said, “The third time is the charm.”
The judge was the only one in the audience who seemed really relaxed, perhaps because he was the only one walking away from the case. Another magistrate will preside over a preliminary hearing before Justice Eileen M. Cannon takes over her case.
“The good news is that it’s not me,” Judge Goodman said just before dismissing the parties.