Former President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty to several charges linked to the aftermath of the 2020 election Thursday. Trump’s arraignment in Washington represented the second case by special counsel Jack Smith against the former president.
Trump formally pleaded not guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Moxila Upadhyaya.
A grand jury approved four counts against the former president related to his statements after the 2020 election. Smith’s indictment accuses Trump of conspiracy to defraud the nation and obstructing an official proceeding in the process.
The case, United States of America v. Donald J. Trump will next convene on Aug. 28 before the U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is presiding over the case. This date is five days before the first Republican primary debate.
The former president was released following the arraignment. He was required by the court not to contact witnesses about the case unless he was accompanied by his attorneys.
After the court date, the former president described the case as “persecution.”
Prior to boarding a flight at Ronald Reagan International Airport, Trump said that the situation “was never supposed to happen in America. This is the persecution of the person that’s leading by very, very substantial numbers in the Republican primary and leading Biden by a lot.”
“So if you can’t beat him you persecute him or you prosecute him,” he said. “We can’t let this happen in America. Thank you very much.”
This isn’t 2016 Trump, nor is it 2020 Trump
This is the best, most focused Trump we’ve seen and he’s going to change the course of history
Enjoy the showpic.twitter.com/GMFsjF4cwW
— johnny maga (@_johnnymaga) August 3, 2023
The charges against the former president carry potentially stiff punishment, including the death penalty. Assuming that capital punishment is not applied, Trump could face up to 515 years in prison.
Trump’s attorney Alina Habba said that the charges were an example of “election interference.”
She made the comments while speaking to reporters after the arraignment.
She said that the “fact that I am standing here for the third time in five months is not a coincidence. This is the Biden political lawfare that we have seen time and time again. It is a deflection from everything that they have done.”
The attorney compared the recent revelations from Hunter Biden’s laptop and Republicans’ investigations with the timing of recent indictments.