Donald Trump pleads not guilty to charges over attempts to change results of 2020 elections

It's the third criminal case filed against Trump in 2023, but the first to try to hold him criminally responsible for his efforts to cling to power in the weeks between his election loss and the Capitol attack that stunned the world as it unfolded live on TV.

Updated - August 04, 2023 12:17 pm IST

Published - August 04, 2023 01:15 am IST - Washington

Former President Donald Trump arrives at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023, in Arlington, as he heads to Washington to face a judge on federal conspiracy charges alleging Trump conspired to subvert the 2020 election.

Former President Donald Trump arrives at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023, in Arlington, as he heads to Washington to face a judge on federal conspiracy charges alleging Trump conspired to subvert the 2020 election. | Photo Credit: AP

Former U.S. president Donald Trump on Thursday, August 3, 2023 pleaded not guilty to the charges that he tried to change the results of the November 2020 presidential election.

Also read: Indian American Judge Moxila Upadhyaya presides over Trump's appearance in federal courthouse

Appearing in a federal courthouse in downtown Washington DC, Mr. Trump entered the not guilty plea before Indian-American judge Magistrate Moxila Upadhyaya. Mr. Trump, who is seeking to contest the 2024 presidential election, arrived at the courthouse in a motorcade after he flew in from Bedminster in New Jersey.

The first SUV in the motorcade carrying former President Donald Trump arrives at the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Federal Courthouse, Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023, in Washington.

The first SUV in the motorcade carrying former President Donald Trump arrives at the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Federal Courthouse, Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023, in Washington. | Photo Credit: AP

“As to counts one to four, how does Mr Trump plead?” Judge Upadhyaya asked the former president in the courtroom. Mr .Trump, flanked by his lawyers, said: “Not guilty.” The judge told Mr. Trump that he would be released but there are certain conditions that he has to abide by and appear in the court as and when required. Trump’s next scheduled appearance is on August 28 before U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan. But he has the option not to appear in person.

The 45-page indictment was filed in Washington, DC earlier this week by Special Counsel Jack Smith, who has led investigations into the former president on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice. The four-count indictment charges the 77-year-old Republican with conspiring to defraud the United States, conspiring to disenfranchise voters and conspiring and attempting to obstruct an official proceeding.

Editorial | Strike three: on the indictment of former U.S. President Donald Trump

“Despite having lost, the defendant was determined to remain in power. So for more than two months following election day on November 3, 2020, the defendant spread lies that there had been outcome-determinative fraud in the election and that he had actually won. These claims were false, and the defendant knew that they were false,” the indictment reads.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump stands next to his attorney John Lauro as he takes an oath before Magistrate Judge Moxila A. Upadhyaya during his plea hearing on charges that he orchestrated a plot to try to overturn his 2020 election loss, at federal court in Washington, U.S. August 3, 2023 in a courtroom sketch.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump stands next to his attorney John Lauro as he takes an oath before Magistrate Judge Moxila A. Upadhyaya during his plea hearing on charges that he orchestrated a plot to try to overturn his 2020 election loss, at federal court in Washington, U.S. August 3, 2023 in a courtroom sketch. | Photo Credit: Reuters

The indictment was issued by a grand jury of citizens in the District of Columbia and sets forth the crimes charged in detail. It caps an inquiry into events surrounding the January 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol. “The attack on our nation’s capital on January 6, 2021 was an unprecedented assault on the seat of American democracy. As described in the indictment, it was fuelled by lies,” Mr. Smith said.

The Trump campaign has charged that Mr. Smith “has conducted a dirty, politically motivated investigation of President Trump to prevent him from winning back the presidency”.

Mr. Smith sat in the courtroom throughout the proceedings.

“At around 4 PM EDT, Biden’s weaponised Department of Justice will once again have its leading opponent (me) ARRAIGNED despite having committed NO CRIME. It sounds like a chapter you’d read out of an old history book on the Soviet Union or Maoist China.... But sadly, it’s taking place right here in America,” Mr. Trump wrote in an email before he left New Jersey for the court appearance in Washington DC.

So far, federal prosecutors have filed cases against 1,077 people for the January 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol. This is Mr. Trump’s third indictment but marks the first time that he has been formally held accountable for his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the run-up to the violent riot by his supporters at the U.S. Capitol.

In April, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg indicted Trump on charges related to payments in 2016 to porn star Stormy Daniels. In June, Trump was indicted in Miami for allegedly retaining White House documents, including classified documents.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.