Trump appeared in Washington, DC’s E. Barrett Prettyman courthouse on Thursday afternoon to be arraigned on charges of a "conspiracy" to overthrow the results of the 2020 election. Trump pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Trump arrived in DC just after 3, entering the federal courthouse just blocks away from the Capitol building. He was fingerprinted but no mugshot was taken. The first hearing is set for August 28 at 10 am.
Trump was indicted for a third time on Tuesday, being charged with conspiracy to defraud the government, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against rights.
Trump was released on the condition that he not communicate with witnesses in the case, except through his legal counsel or in their presence.
“Defendant shall not communicate about the facts of the case with any individual known to be a witness except through counsel or in the presence of counsel,” prosecutor Thomas Windom said.
Magistrate Judge Moxila Upadhyaya told Trump that if he violates the conditions of his release, an arrest warrant could be issued and the 2024 GOP frontrunner detained.
Trump’s lawyers have argued that he had the First Amendment right to question the results of the 2020 election, with John Lauro saying that the indictment is criminalizing that right, according to the Wall Street Journal.
"This defense of Mr. Trump is not just for him, but also, in my mind, for all Americans who want to exercise free speech and take unpopular political positions," Lauro said.
The indictment states that Trump had the right to speak about the election publically and "even to claim, falsely, that there had been outcome-determinative fraud during the election and that he won," and that he was entitled to formally challenged the results of the election, but added that Trump "also pursued unlawful means of discounting legitimate votes and subverting the election results," and in turn, Trump "perpetrated three criminal conspiracies."
Trump and his team could also argue during the trial that the former president was following the advice of his lawyers in attempting to contest the election, and therefore did not commit a crime.
"You are entitled to believe and trust advice of counsel," Lauro said.
Prosecutors will have to show at the trial that Trump did not believe his claims of the election being stolen, to which Trump could counter with arguing that he was acting in good faith and believed that he won the election.
The indictment alleges that Trump conspired with co-conspirators to "defraud" the US and overturn the results of the election by "using knowingly false claims of election fraud to obstruct the federal function by which those results are collected, counted, and certified."
This includes an alternate slate of electors in six states, the attempted use of the "power and authority of the Justice Department to conduct sham election crime investigations," and attempting to enlist the help of then-Vice President Mike Pence to halt the Electoral College proceedings on January 6, 2021, the indictment alleges.
"After it became public on the afternoon of January 6 that the Vice President would not fraudulently alter the election results, a large and angry crowd—including many individuals whom the Defendant had deceived into believing the Vice President could and might change the election results—violently attacked the Capitol and halted the proceeding. As violence ensued, the Defendant and co-conspirators exploited the disruption by redoubling efforts to levy false claims of election fraud and convince Members of Congress to further delay the certification based on those claims."This is a breaking story and will be updated.
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