Trump appears to wield infamous Sharpie to sign bond document at arraignment

While in office, former president began using Sharpie pens in favour of expensive government writing implements

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Wednesday 14 June 2023 17:27 BST
Related video: Morning Joe hosts mock Trump over Kim Jong-un love letters and sharpie-adapted map he was hoarding

It was a feature of his presidency and sometimes a source of amusement, but Donald Trump’s love of Sharpie marker pens has resurfaced as he signed the bond document at his arraignment on federal charges in Miami on Tuesday.

Six pages of the former president’s bond document were made public after the hearing on 13 June, showing that Mr Trump is released on his own personal recognisance after being charged with 37 separate counts relating to the classified documents he kept at his Florida home.

The document stipulates that he is required to appear at future court dates and must not violate any local, state, or federal law while under the bond.

As reported after the arraignment hearing at the federal courthouse in downtown Miami, there are no travel restrictions imposed on Mr Trump nor codefendant and valet Walt Nauta

The only special condition the pair must comply with is that they are not allowed to discuss the facts of the case with a list of people provided by the government who may be called as other witnesses — except through their legal counsel.

Somehow making the former president’s signature on the final page all the more authentic is that rather than signing in a more traditional ballpoint pen, Mr Trump appears to have used a thick, bold, black Sharpie pen, that presumably he brought with him to court.

CBS News investigative reporter Graham Kates spotted the marker from five rows behind the former president, noting how Mr Trump and Mr Nauta “were each required to sign their personal surety bonds. Trump brought his trademark sharpie, and his large bold signature was visible to me from 5 rows back.”

During his 2016 campaign and four years in the White House, the thick black ink became synonymous with Mr Trump’s distinctive sharp and spiky signature or autograph — likened to a mountain range or an EKG reading.

The marker was also used for speech notes, bulleted lists of talking points, polling numbers, and — most infamously — to alter the projected path of a hurricane on a weather map. This was later dubbed “Sharpiegate”.

In 2019, a photo revealed his thick marker-written notes on Air Force One stationery, denying that there was any “quid pro quo” arrangement with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as was alleged in his first impeachment.

Trump presenting his own weather map complete with Alabama looped in by Sharpie
Trump presenting his own weather map complete with Alabama looped in by Sharpie (Reuters)

In a series filmed in partnership with HBO and Axios in his second year in office, he spoke about his love of Sharpie pens.

“I was signing documents with a very expensive pen and it didn’t write well,” Mr Trump said. “It was a horrible pen, and it was extremely expensive.”

He added: “And then I started using just a Sharpie, and I said to myself, ‘Well wait a minute, this writes much better and this cost almost nothing.’”

The president signs a plaque on the wall yesterday
The president signs a plaque on the wall yesterday (AFP)

The manufacturer of Sharpie pens, conglomerate Newell Brands, even had custom ones made for the Oval Office in black with the then-president’s signature on the side in gold.

“So, I called up the folks at Sharpie and I said, ‘do me a favour, can you make the pen in black? Can you make it look rich?’” he said.

In addition to official papers and signing autographs, Mr Trump has also signed an upright beam of his border wall with Mexico near San Diego, and a plaque on the wall near Alamo, Texas.

Mr Trump was indicted last week on 37 criminal counts related to his handling of presidential records, including classified documents reportedly related to US defence and the military.

The former president faces a separate 32-count indictment in New York, a result of a 2016 hush money scheme involving porn star Stormy Daniels.

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