Trump pleads not guilty to federal charges that he tried to overturn the 2020 election
- Washington 08/03/2023 by Michael Kunzelman, Eric Tucker, Nomaan Merchant, Lindsay Whitehurst (AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump pleaded not guilty Thursday to trying to overturn the results of his 2020 election loss, answering for the first time to federal charges that accuse him of orchestrating a brazen and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to block the peaceful transfer of presidential power.

The former president appeared before a magistrate judge in Washington’s federal courthouse two days after being indicted by Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith. Of the three criminal cases he’s facing, the most recent charges are especially historic since they focus on Trump’s efforts as president to subvert the will of voters and obstruct the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s victory. His refusal to accept defeat and his lies about widespread election fraud helped fuel the violent riot on Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob of supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol.

The indictment charges Trump with four felony counts related to his efforts to undo his presidential election loss, including conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding. The charges could lead to a lengthy prison sentence in the event of a conviction, with the most serious counts calling for up to 20 years.

Smith himself attended the arraignment, sitting in the courtroom’s front row behind the prosecutors handling the case and about 20 feet away from Trump. He looked at times in Trump’s direction, though neither appeared to gesture at or talk to each other.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Moxila Upadhyaya set the next court date for Aug. 28, when a tentative trial date will be set, and directed Trump not to communicate directly about the facts of case with any individual known to be a witness.

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