Former President Trump entered a plea of not guilty on Thursday for charges related to his attempts to maintain power after losing the 2020 election. The charges include defrauding the U.S. and obstructing Congressional proceedings, with the Justice Department asserting that his actions were fueled by lies.
Trump arrived at Washington’s federal courthouse, where a mob of his supporters had rioted on January 6, 2021, due to his efforts. He appeared in court wearing his customary blue suit and red tie, accompanied by his attorneys, John Lauro and Todd Blanche.
Outside the courthouse, a few demonstrators showed support for the former president, though they were outnumbered by numerous media representatives.
During the arraignment, U.S. Magistrate Judge Moxila Upadhyaya presided and issued a warning to Trump against bribing or influencing witnesses, reminding him that such actions are illegal.
The trial itself will be overseen by U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who has a history of handing down strict sentences to Jan. 6 defendants.
The indictment against Trump outlines a series of false statements he made regarding the election, with prosecutors alleging that he was aware of their falsehood but deliberately propagated them to undermine public trust in the election administration.
Trump has claimed that the charges against him are part of an effort to impede his potential 2024 election campaign.
“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,” Trump wrote on Truth Social ahead of the arraignment.
He also complained he will be unable to get a fair trial in D.C., floating that his legal team will seek to move the case to West Virginia. However, his attempt to move the case to a different venue is unlikely to succeed, given similar rejections by judges in previous Jan. 6 defendant cases.
This arraignment is Trump’s third this year, with other charges filed against him in New York and related to mishandling classified records at Mar-a-Lago. In total, he now faces 78 criminal charges and the risk of jail time if found guilty. He also faces a potential indictment fro election interference in Georgia.