Donald Trump Pleads Not Guilty To 2020 Election Charges

 Donald Trump Pleads Not Guilty To 2020 Election Charges

Former President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges that he engaged in criminal conspiracies aimed at subverting the 2020 presidential election results and keeping himself in power — a significant moment in one of the most consequential tests of the U.S. Constitution and its criminal justice system.

Trump was arraigned on an indictment charging him with conspiracy to defraud the United States; conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; obstruction; and conspiracy against the right to vote and to have one’s vote counted.

Special counsel Jack Smith, who brought the case against Trump, was seated in the front row for the proceeding, about 10 feet away from the former president who’s labeled him a “deranged prosecutor.” Smith was in Trump’s sightline, and Trump appeared to avoid looking at him.

Trump stood when asked for his plea, and said “not guilty” to all counts.

The arraignment was another remarkable and unprecedented moment in American history, with a former president and current Republican presidential frontrunner standing accused of trying to overturn the bedrock of democracy, a free and fair election. Trump is the first former president to ever face criminal charges, and he’s now been indicted in three separate cases in three separate locales over the past four months.

At the airport after the hearing, Trump, who has denied any wrongdoing, told reporters “this is a very sad day for America.”

“This is a persecution of a political opponent,” he said. “This was never supposed to happen in America.”

United States of America vs. Donald J. Trump

In court, the government said it wanted to proceed with a speedy trial in the case, which Trump lawyer John Lauro objected to, citing the likely “massive” amount of discovery they’re expecting to receive from Smith’s team.

Prosecutor Thomas Windom said the government is prepared to hand over a “substantial volume of discovery, including discovery that we are not obligated at this time to turn over” as soon as a protective order is put in place.

Magistrate Judge Moxila A. Upadhyaya set a return date of Aug. 28th in the case before the judge who will be overseeing it, U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan. She said Chutkan expects to set a trial date at that hearing, and that Trump can waive appearing at that hearing.

Upadhyaya ordered Smith’s office to file a submission in seven days estimating their schedule for when a trial should be set and how long they expected it to take, and gave the defense five days after that to respond.

Before the hearing started, Trump sat at the defense table with his hands clasped and chatted with his two attorneys, Lauro and Todd Blanche, who each sat next to him.

The proceeding before Upadhyaya began with the court clerk calling the case — “United States of America vs. Donald J. Trump” and lasted a little under half an hour.

Windom laid out the government’s conditions of release, including that “the defendant must not communicate about the facts of the case to any individual known to be a witness except through counsel or in the presence of counsel.”

The judge also warned Trump: “It is a crime to try to influence a juror or to threaten or attempt to bribe a witness or any other person who may have information about your case, or to retaliate against anyone for providing information about your case to the prosecution, or to otherwise obstruct the administration of justice. Do you understand these warnings and consequences, sir?”

“Yes,” Trump replied.

The judge added that if he violated the conditions of release, “You may be held pending trial in this case.”

At least three federal court judges were seen sitting in the back row of the courtroom for the proceeding, and three officers who served on Jan. 6 — Metropolitan Police Department Officer Daniel Hodges, former Capitol Police Officer Aquilino Gonell and Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn — watched the arraignment from an overflow room at the courthouse.

Trump was fingerprinted and processed at the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse before the hearing.

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