Donald Trump attended a federal hearing on Friday in Fort Pierce

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FORT PIERCE – Former President Donald Trump on Friday waved and gave a thumbs up to a rowdy crowd that cheered his arrival at the Alto Lee Adams Sr. U.S. Courthouse to attend a hearing in his classified documents case.

When Trump’s motorcade arrived around 9:30 a.m., more than 50 supporters lining a sidewalk along Fifth Street waved huge flags and yelled out as he passed in a black SUV with dark tinted windows and entered an underground parking area.

The motorcade, consisting of several black SUVs, a motorcycle escort and fire rescue vehicles, traveled from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach to downtown Fort Pierce amid heightened security surrounding the federal courthouse at 101 S. U.S. 1.

This was Trump’s second appearance in Fort Pierce before U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon, who called the hearing to in part discuss the May 20 trial date and pretrial preparations, which could delay scheduling the trial.

Trump was last here Feb. 12 for a sealed hearing to discuss the handling of classified documents.

Longtime Trump supporters Glen Bush, 73, and his wife Barbara Bush, 72, of Fort Pierce, said they showed up Friday to watch the former president arrive at the courthouse.

Both said they wanted to show their support and intend to vote for Trump in November.

“We are losing the country and he’s going to save it. I believe he is for the U.S., out of anybody,” Barbara Bush said. “He was the one who was doing good. And they undid everything that he put in place. It’s sad.”

Trump and his two codefendants, Walt Nauta, his valet and bodyguard, and Carlos de Oliveira, property manager at Mar-a-Lago, are criminally charged with mishandling federal documents uncovered on Aug. 8, 2022, at Mar-a-Lago.

All three have pleaded not guilty.

Trump faces 41 charges related to keeping and hiding documents with classified markings. More than 300 classified documents were recovered from Mar-a-Lago more than a year after Trump left the White House, most under subpoena in June 2022 or during the FBI search in August 2022.

What were Trump’s supporters saying ahead of his arrival?

Trump fans began lining up behind the courthouse along Fifth Street about two hours before he arrived, as music blared from vehicles and vendors hawked Trump-related merchandise.

Jimmy Jackson, of Virginia, said he arrived about 5:30 a.m. and was selling Trump gear including flags, hats, bumper stickers and magnets just west of the courthouse. He said he’s done so at 60 to 75 rallies in several states. Sales on Friday, he said, were “steady.”

Michael Symonette, of Miami, sporting a “Blacks for Trump” T-shirt, criticized Department of Justice special counsel Jack Smith, former President Barack Obama, President Joe Biden and others.

“I’m not scared to talk about them because they are the devil,” he said outside the courthouse.

Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, of Fort Pierce, who was outside the courthouse before Trump arrived, chatted with Trump fans, took selfies and listened to supporters.

Mast, who lives in Fort Pierce, said he appeared at the courthouse “to support my president.”

“Gotta have the back of our president against these witch hunts that go on against him constantly,” Mast said. “Whether it’s the value of land at Mar-a-Lago or whether it’s saying the president can’t decide what’s classified or not classified and have it locked up where National Archives and Records tell him to lock it up and then he gets charged for it … just absolutely ridiculous charges across the board.”

Marge Matthew, a resident of Tradition in Port St. Lucie, waved an American flag at Orange Avenue and Fifth Street waiting for Trump to arrive. She wanted him to see her support, she said.

“I’m supporting Trump. I want $1.87 gas again,” Matthew said. “Drill, baby drill. That’s my motto.”

Not everyone outside the courthouse were rallying for Trump.

A trio of Trump dissenters held up hand-made signs at the corner of Orange Avenue and U.S. 1 that stated, “We are all immigrants!” and “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied.”

Brevard County resident Philip Stasik displayed a sign that said, “Traitor Trump.”

“Most important thing is to remind Mr. Trump and his supporters that no one is above the law,” Stasik said standing outside the federal courthouse.  “I think every American is hoping to see the law prevail.”

What was discussed at the hearing?

During Friday’s hearing, which was open to the public and members of the media, attorneys spent the morning discussing the May 20 trial date. The lawyers were also discussing ongoing disputes related to proposed redactions to highly classified documents involved in the case.

Cannon has already postponed multiple dates in Trump’s case and during Friday’s hearing Trump lawyers and federal prosecutors working for special counsel Jack Smith argued over when a trial could be scheduled.

Federal prosecutors on Thursday filed papers requesting a July 8 trial date, according to the Associated Press. Defense lawyers said there was no way to hold a fair trial this year at a time when Trump is looking to clinch the Republican presidential nomination but nonetheless proposed Aug. 12 as a possible date to begin jury selection.

Staff writers Will Greenlee and Nick Slater contributed to this report.

Melissa E. Holsman is the legal affairs reporter for TCPalm and Treasure Coast Newspapers and is writer and co-host of “Uncertain Terms,” a true-crime podcast. Reach her at  melissa.holsman@tcpalm.com. If you are a subscriber, thank you. If not, become a subscriber to get the latest local news on the Treasure Coast.


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