United States of America vs. Donald J. Trump
The former President pleaded not guilty to all four criminal counts including obstruction and conspiracy to defraud the U.S.
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In an immediately historic moment in U.S. history, Former President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty Thursday to four charges that allege he engaged in criminal conspiracies to alter the 2020 presidential election results and keep himself in the Oval Office.
It’ll be a huge test for the U.S. Constitution and its criminal justice system.
The former President was arraigned on an indictment charging him with conspiracy to defraud the U.S., conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction, as well as conspiracy against the right to vote and to have one’s vote counted.
The man responsible for bringing the case against Trump, Special counsel Jack Smith, was seated in the front row for the proceeding, who Trump himself labeled Smith as a "deranged prosecutor."
Standing when asked for his plea, Trump said "not guilty" to all counts.
In a truly unprecedented moment in American history, a former president and current Republican presidential frontrunner stood accused of trying to subvert a free and fair election. Not only is Trump the first former president to ever face criminal charges, but he's now been indicted in three separate cases in three separate locales in the last year.
Trump told reporters at the airport following the proceedings "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."
The government’s hopes of proceeding with a speedy trial in the case was rejected by Trump lawyer John Lauro, citing the likely "massive" amount of discovery they're expecting to receive from Smith's camp.
Prosecutor Thomas Windom, however, said the government will be handing 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 added that Chutkan expects to set a trial date at that hearing, and that the former President can waive appearing at that hearing.
Smith's office was ordered to file a submission in seven days estimating their schedule for when a trial should be set as well as how long they expected it to take, and gave the defense five days after that to respond.
Trump was fingerprinted and processed at the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse before the hearing. He left New Jersey, where he has been living during the summer, shortly after 2 p.m. ET.
"I am now going to Washington, D.C. to be arrested for having challenged a corrupt, rigged & stolen election," Trump wrote on his social media website Truth Social shortly after noon. He arrived at Reagan National Airport in his private plane emblazoned with his last name shortly before 3 p.m.
Thursday’s indictment comes after a federal grand jury voted Tuesday to indict Trump following an investigation by Smith's office into the former President’s efforts to remain in power after losing the presidential election.
"Each of these conspiracies — which built on the widespread mistrust the Defendant was creating through pervasive and destabilizing lies about election fraud — targeted a bedrock function of the United States federal government: the nation’s process of collecting, counting, and certifying the results of the presidential election," the indictment said.
Trump has maintained his innocence and his opinion of Smith who he thinks is engaging in "election interference" by bringing criminal charges against him during Trump’s comeback tour for 2024.
In June, Smith brought a 37-count indictment against Trump in Florida on charges of mishandling national security information and obstruction, to which he pleaded not guilty and labeled “the boxes hoax.” He was hit with additional counts in the case last week.
Trump was also arraigned in New York criminal court back in April, where he pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to his alleged role in hush money payments toward the end of his 2016 presidential campaign. All together, Trump faces 78 felony counts in the three cases.