The case against Donald Trump will initially be handled by US District Judge Aileen Cannon, who was appointed by the former US president and made rulings favorable to him during a court review of documents seized in an FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago, according to reports Friday.
Trump is due to make his first court appearance Tuesday afternoon in Miami.
However, Politico reported that it remained unclear if Cannon would preside over the whole case.
Cannon has expressed repeated skepticism of Justice Department positions and was broadly criticized last year for granting the Trump legal team’s request for a special master to conduct an independent review of the hundreds of classified documents seized from his Florida property.
The move, which temporarily halted core aspects of the US Justice Department’s investigative work, was overturned months later by a three-judge panel of a federal appeals court.
According to ABC News, legal experts said Cannon gave Trump “a series of head-scratching victories over the course of those proceedings.”
Federal prosecutors unsealed a wide-ranging indictment of Trump on Friday, accusing the former US president of endangering national security by holding on to top secret nuclear and defense documents after leaving the White House.
The 76-year-old Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, took “hundreds” of classified government documents in cardboard boxes to his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida, the 49-page charge sheet said.
Trump kept the files — which included records from the Pentagon, CIA and National Security Agency — unsecured at Mar-a-Lago, which regularly hosted large social events involving tens of thousands of guests over time, the indictment said.
On at least two occasions, Trump showed classified documents on US military operations and plans to people not cleared to see them at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club, it said.
Trump faces 37 separate counts in the indictment including 31 counts of “willful retention of national defense information” relating to specific documents.
A conviction on each count carries up to 10 years in prison.
A trial is not expected to begin for several months and there is nothing to prevent Trump from pursuing a second term in the White House while facing charges.