Former United States President Donald Trump has appeared in a Washington, DC, courtroom on Thursday to face charges that he led a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 presidential election, culminating in an attack on the seat of American democracy.
Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, walked into court just before 4pm Eastern US time (20:00 GMT) for his arraignment, where he entered a plea of not guilty before US Magistrate Judge Moxila Upadhyaya.
The courthouse is about one kilometre (half a mile) from the US Capitol, the building Trump supporters stormed on January 6, 2021, in a failed bid to stop Congress from certifying his loss to Democrat Joe Biden.
In a 45-page indictment on Tuesday, Special Counsel Jack Smith accused Trump and his allies of knowingly promoting false claims that the election was rigged, pressuring state and federal officials to alter the results, and assembling fake slates of electors to try to wrest Electoral College votes from Biden.
Trump faces four counts, including conspiracy to defraud the US, conspiracy to deprive citizens of their right to have their votes counted and conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding. The most serious charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.
In a series of posts on his social media site, Trump framed the indictment as a contrivance to derail his campaign, while his campaign issued a statement comparing the Biden administration to “authoritarian, dictatorial” regimes like that of Nazi Germany.
The indictment is the third in four months for Trump. In June, he pleaded not guilty to federal charges that he retained classified documents after leaving office. And in April, he also pleaded not guilty to New York state charges that he falsified documents in connection with hush money payments to a porn star.
Trump may soon face more charges in Georgia, where a state prosecutor is investigating his attempts to overturn the election there. The Atlanta-area prosecutor, Fani Willis, has said she will file indictments by mid-August.
“I NEED ONE MORE INDICTMENT TO ENSURE MY ELECTION!” Trump wrote on his Truth Social media platform ahead of his Thursday court appearance.