Donald Trump pleads not guilty to election charges
A Washington DC court has found Donald Trump not guilty of conspiring to overturn his defeat in the 2020 presidential election.
As he was being arraigned, he spoke softly to confirm his not-guilty plea, his name and age, and that he was not under the influence of any substances.
Later, he told reporters the case was “persecution of a political opponent”.
As a criminal defendant, it is the former president’s third appearance in four months.
The president entered the courthouse through a backdoor on Thursday afternoon in the nation’s capital, just yards from the scene of a riot that is central to the prosecution’s case.
There have been about 1,000 defendants in the same courtroom charged with taking part in the storming of Congress on 6 January 2021.
Jack Smith, the special counsel leading the investigation, and the former president exchanged glances across the court.
As Mr Trump sat waiting for the hearing to begin, he was seen twiddling his thumbs and shaking his head as the clerk read out the case number.
However, Trump’s defense attorney John Lauro said they would need more time to prepare. Given that the investigation itself took three years, the prosecution’s timeline was “somewhat absurd.”
There is a charge of “conspiracy to impair, obstruct, and defeat the federal government’s function by dishonesty, fraud, and deceit” in an indictment laid out on Tuesday.
Despite losing to his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, Mr Trump refused to concede and mounted weeks of challenges across several US states.
At the moment, he appears to be the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for the White House in 2024, and he may face off against Mr Biden again.
Before flying home to New Jersey in his private plane, Mr Trump told reporters that his arraignment was a “very sad day for America”.