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Donald Trump to appear before court for arraignment: Here’s what to know

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Former US President and 2024 Republican Presidential hopeful Donald Trump dances after speaking at a Republican volunteer recruitment event at Fervent, a Calvary Chapel, in Las Vegas, Nevada, July 8, 2023. — AFP

With the continued worsening of his legal woes after his third indictment, former US president Donald Trump is set to appear before the federal courthouse to be arraigned Thursday for the charges pressed against him of conspiring to overturn the 2020 election, instigating supporters to storm US Capitol Hill. 

Arrangements at the front of the building have been made with metal barricades erected around the E Barret Prettyman courthouse in Washington, where the “arrest and arraignment” of Donald Trump will take place.

Members of the media set up outside the E. Barrett Prettyman US Courthouse in Washington, DC, on August 3, 2023, ahead of the arraignment of former US President Donald Trump. — AFP
Members of the media set up outside the E. Barrett Prettyman US Courthouse in Washington, DC, on August 3, 2023, ahead of the arraignment of former US President Donald Trump. — AFP

The 77-year-old Trump is expected to enter a plea of not guilty at a hearing at 4:00pm before magistrate judge Moxila Upadhyaya.

The accusations that the Republican presidential forerunner and six unnamed co-conspirators plotted to upend the 2020 election is the former president’s third criminal indictment since March and the most serious of the cases threatening to derail his White House bid.

Donald Trump deliberately made false claims

Special counsel Jack Smith unveiled a 45-page indictment of Trump Tuesday charging him with conspiracy to defraud the US and attempting to disenfranchise voters with his false claims that he won the 2020 election.

“The purpose of the conspiracy was to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election by using knowingly false claims of election fraud,” the indictment said.

Police block a street near the E. Barrett Prettyman US Courthouse where former US President Donald Trump is to be arraigned on August 3, 2023, in Washington, DC. — AFP
Police block a street near the E. Barrett Prettyman US Courthouse where former US President Donald Trump is to be arraigned on August 3, 2023, in Washington, DC. — AFP

Jack Smith linked Trump’s actions following his loss to Democrat Joe Biden directly to the attack on the Capitol, which he called an “unprecedented assault on the seat of American democracy.”

The Special Counsel said: “It was fueled by lies. Lies by the defendant targeted at obstructing a bedrock function of the US government — the nation´s process of collecting, counting and certifying the results of the presidential election.”

Trump is already scheduled to go on trial in Florida in May of next year on charges that he took top secret government documents to his Mar-A-Lago estate in Florida and refused to return them.

Special counsel Jack Smith speaks to members of the media at the US Department of Justice building in Washington, DC, on August 1, 2023. — AFP
Special counsel Jack Smith speaks to members of the media at the US Department of Justice building in Washington, DC, on August 1, 2023. — AFP

The twice-impeached president also faces criminal charges in New York for allegedly paying election-eve hush money to an adult film star.

The Republican candidate has pleaded not guilty in the documents and hush money cases and accused prosecutors of seeking minus him from the presidential bid with “fake” charges.

In a late-night post on his Truth Social platform, Trump said Thursday’s case was “brought by Crooked Joe Biden & Deranged Jack Smith,” again claiming that “this Indictment is all about Election Interference!”

Although Trump’s arraignment will be before a magistrate judge, the actual case is to be heard by US District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan, an appointee of former Democratic president Barack Obama, who has handed down some of the stiffest sentences in cases involving Capitol riot participants.

Trump had filed a lawsuit asserting executive privilege to block documents from being handed over to a congressional committee investigating the attack on the Capitol by his supporters.

He was no longer in the White House at the time, and Chutkan dismissed the suit, saying the former president’s argument “appears to be premised on the notion that his executive power ‘exists in perpetuity’.”

“But Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President,” Chutkan wrote.

As president, Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives for seeking political dirt on Biden from Ukraine and over the events of January 6 and was acquitted by the Senate both times.



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