Trump Pleads Not Guilty to Charges That He Plotted to Overturn the 2020 Election

From a Washington Post story by Tom Jackman, Spencer S. Hsu, Salvador Rizzo, Rachel Weiner and Devlin Barrett headlined “Trump pleads not guilty to charges that he plotted to overturn the 2020 election”:

Former president Donald Trump pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges that he conspired to overturn the results of the 2020 election, appearing in the federal courthouse that sits just blocks away from where his angry supporters stormed the Capitol building in an effort to keep him in power.

After arriving at the courthouse in a Secret Service motorcade, Trump entered the not guilty plea before Magistrate Judge Moxila A. Upadhyaya — following in the footsteps of hundreds of others charged with crimes as a result of the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol building. According to the D.C. U.S. attorney’s office, 1,077 people have faced federal charges in some way tied to that attack. Trump, the 45th president of the United States, is the 1,078th.

“As to counts one to four, how does Mr. Trump plead?” Judge Upadhyaya asked Trump as he stood at the defense table, flanked by his lawyers.

Trump raised his head and said “Not guilty.”

The judge then reminded Trump that while he would be released, there are conditions with that release that must be obeyed, including that he must not violate any laws, must appear in court when required, and must not communicate with anyone known to be a witness in the case, unless it is through an attorney. He is next scheduled to appear on August 28 at 10 a.m., before U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan.

Special counsel Jack Smith, who is handling the investigation of Trump and his inner circle, sat in the courtroom during the former president’s court appearance.

Trump is not accused of criminal incitement, nor is he facing a seditious conspiracy charge alleging that he plotted to use force to keep himself in power. But he has been charged with conspiring to block Congress from carrying out its work confirming Biden’s election that day, and successfully obstructing the vote confirmation by directing his supporters to the Capitol. He is also accused of scheming to disrupt the election process and deprive Americans of their right to have their votes counted.

Ahead of the hearing, small groups of police officers stood outside the E. Barrett Prettyman courthouse in anticipation of possible crowds, but journalists far outnumbered the slow trickle of demonstrators. The street behind the courthouse, which includes the underground garage entrance, was blocked off by police.

As the former president traveled from New Jersey to the nation’s capital, Trump’s campaign issued another broadside against Smith, charging he “has conducted a dirty, politically motivated investigation of President Trump to prevent him from winning back the presidency.” The campaign missive charged that Smith was Biden’s “political pawn.”

Smith is expected to press for a speedy trial in Washington, as his prosecutors did before a federal judge in Florida who is overseeing a separate criminal case accusing Trump of illegally holding onto sensitive national defense information after leaving office. Trump’s legal team has already signaled that they will fight for more time before trial, arguing that the issues in the case are complex, span many states, and have potentially huge consequences for the legal and political framework of the nation. His lawyer has also said publicly he would seek the move the trial out of D.C. to West Virginia.

Trump’s lawyers have previously argued that the trial over his alleged mishandling of classified documents should not take place until after the next presidential election; he is currently the leading Republican candidate in that race. The judge in that matter has tentatively scheduled the trial for next spring.

Trump also faces three upcoming trials in New York: a civil trial in October over allegedly fraudulent practices in his real estate business, a second civil trial in January where he is accused of defaming a woman who accused him of rape, and a criminal trial in March where he is accused of falsifying records to cover up payments to a porn star. Charging decisions are also expected soon from a state grand jury in Fulton County, Ga., investigating efforts to subvert the election results in that state.

Mia Cremona, Henry Brown, Shea Carlberg, Gabriella Fine, Hayden Godfrey, Micah Israel, Chambers Miller, Jeremy Potter and Ianne Salvosa contributed to this report.

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