The sunglasses-wearing aide accompanying Donald Trump to his arraignment in a Miami courthouse this week was not the former first lady, but actually his deputy communications director, Margo Martin. Ms Martin, 27, is one of a long series of young conservatives who saw their careers take off under the ex-president, who since the beginning of his political career has had a penchant for bringing along fresh-faced staffers and elevating them past many of their older peers.
The most famous example of that trend was Mr Trump’s longtime personal assistant, Hope Hicks, who would serve as communications director in the White House in her early thirties.
Ms Martin was misidentified by the Fox reporter on the scene, John Roberts, who told viewers as he spotted her: “We have some video that we want to play out here, Melania Trump entering the courthouse just a short time ago.”
He added moments later: “There she is.”
A producer evidently spotted the error and alerted Roberts, because the Fox correspondent issued a correction a short time afterwards.
“So we just clarify something, Byron, we thought that was Melania Trump that was arriving – apparently it was not Melania so apologies for that,” Roberts said. “Day like today, with some many comings and goings, its easy from a distance to mistake two people.”
Ms Martin, unlike Mr Trump’s chief spokeswoman Liz Harrington, is actually a hanger-on from Mr Trump’s time in the White House. Few people made that leap with her, as some prominent members of the administration including then-press secretary Stephanie Grisham, resigned in protest after the events of January 6. Ms Martin worked in the White House throughout the 2020 election season and later through the unstable period of several months during which her boss attempted to throw out the lawful results of the contest. On the final day of Mr Trump’s time in the White House, 20 January 2021, Ms Martin called the last press lid for her boss’s four years in power.
She’s also one of the key figures, as a result, in the Department of Justice’s prosecution of her boss over his handling of classified materials. According to CBS News, her voice is heard on a key piece of audio evidence in which Mr Trump describes classified restrictions on one of the documents in his possession. She’s been spotted, according to multiple news outlets, at the building where the grand jury convened by Smith was meeting, and testified in March, according to The New York Post.
It’s unclear if she is separately involved in the DoJ’s investigation into January 6.
Mr Trump was formally charged this week with 37 criminal counts related to his retention of classified documents and presidential records, reportedly including defence documents, from the White House. He pled not guilty in a court appearance on Tuesday, before raging about the charges in a speech from New Jersey later in the evening.
The former president faces accusations of violating the Espionage Act and reprimands from his own party, including his onetime ally, ex-Vice President Mike Pence, over the allegations while a thinning circle of far-right Republicans continue to dismiss the seriousness of the charges.
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