On Thursday, former President Donald Trump pleaded ‘not guilty’ in federal court to all four federal charges from Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, and the 2020 election interference.
Trump, currently the 2024 front-runner, is charged with obstruction of an attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against rights. The former president traveled from his resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, Thursday to Washington, D.C. His first appearance in court took place at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The indictment stems from Smith’s investigation into whether Trump or other entities and officials interfered with the peaceful transfer of power after the 2020 presidential election, including the January 6 certification of the Electoral College vote.
Judge Moxila Upadhaya, U.S. Magistrate, presided over Thursday’s proceedings. Judge Tanya Chutkan is set to preside over the trial. Chutkan, who served as a public defender before her appointment to the bench by former President Barack Obama, has handled several cases involving individuals who entered the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
Judge Chutkan intends to set a trial date of August 28, according to Upadhaya. Trump attorney John Lauro voiced opposition after the prosecutor called for a “speedy trial.”
The proposal for a quick trial is “absurd” due to “the amount of discovery,” said Lauro. “The United States has three and a half years to investigate this matter…all we ask is for the opportunity to fairly defend our client, but we need a little time, so we will ask for the exclusion of a speedy trial.”
The judge laid out how the proceeding would go in the courtroom and asked that Trump be seated closer to the microphone so that he could answer the questions she would ask. Judge Upadhaya first asked for his name and age.
“Trump. Donald J. Trump — John. Seven Seven — seventy-seven.”
The judge then advised the former president of the counts of the indictment he faced and the possible penalties associated with being convicted on the counts. The judge also read Trump his rights.
Former President Trump was asked how he would plead to the four counts against him. He quickly responded, “Not guilty.”
He was then advised of the conditions of his release.
Trump was told he must not violate federal, local, or state law; must serve any sentence imposed by the court; must appear in court, and cannot communicate the facts of the case to anyone known to be a witness.
The judge then read the counts against Trump. They included: Conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, prison not more than 20 years, with a fine of up to $250,000; conspiracy to defraud the U.S., no more than five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000; conspiracy against rights, up to 10 years in prison; and violation of an official proceeding prison of not more than 20 years and a fine up to $250,000.
A Trump attorney claimed that the three indictments against him amounted to “election interference.”
Trump’s attorney questioned the timing of indictments
While speaking to reporters outside the courthouse Thursday afternoon, Trump lawyer Alina Habba suggested that the timing of his indictments was chosen to distract from negative news about the Biden family.
“This is not a coincidence. This is election interference at its finest against the leading candidate right now for president for either party,” said Habba. “President Trump is under siege in a way that we have never seen before. President Trump and his legal team and everyone on his team will continue to fight. Not for him, but for the American people.”
The indictment is the second the former president faces from Smith’s investigation. Trump has already pleaded not guilty in federal court in the Southern District of Florida to 37 counts related to his allegedly improper retention of classified records from his time as president.
The charges include conspiracy to obstruct justice, false statements, and willful retention of national defense information. Trump was also charged with an additional three counts as part of an indictment from that probe last week. The former president is the first former president in U.S. history to face federal criminal charges.
On Thursday morning, Trump posted again on Truth Social and accused the Biden administration of bringing charges against him to drain funds from his campaign for president in 2024.
“Look, it’s not my fault that my political opponent in the Democrat Party, Crooked Joe Biden, has told his Attorney General to charge the leading (by far!) Republican Nominee & former President of the United States, me, with as many crimes as can be concocted so that he is forced to spend large amounts of time & money to defend himself,” said Trump. “The Dems don’t want to run against me, or they would not be doing this unprecedented weaponization of “Justice.” BUT SOON, IN 2024, IT WILL BE OUR TURN. MAGA!”
Campaign finance documents show that Trump, the GOP presidential front-runner, burned through at least $42.8 million this year, much used to pay costs related to his mounting legal battles. The former president currently has $31.8 million cash in hand.
Trump also pleaded not guilty to 34 counts in April in New York, stemming from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s probe. Trump is accused of falsifying business records about alleged hush-money payments made during the 2016 campaign.