Former President Donald Trump entered pleas of not guilty Thursday at an arraignment in Washington, D.C., giving his formal response to his four-count indictment over his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, including his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Trump, the frontrunner in polls for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, has denied wrongdoing, and earlier Thursday he continued to criticize the legal proceedings as largely about helping President Joe Biden, a Democrat, in next year’s election.
“The Dems don’t want to run against me or they would not be doing this unprecedented weaponization of ‘Justice.’ BUT SOON, IN 2024, IT WILL BE OUR TURN,” Trump said in a post on his Truth Social platform.
In Tuesday’s 45-page indictment, Trump was hit with charges that included conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding.
The former president’s appearance in Washington is just one step in a legal battle that will likely take months or even years to play out.
Special counsel Jack Smith on Tuesday said his office “will seek a speedy trial” in the Jan. 6 case, but Trump defense attorney John Lauro has pushed back repeatedly on Smith’s statement, telling NPR on Wednesday that his side wants “a just trial, not simply a speedy trial,” and that the trial itself “could last six months or nine months or even a year.”
Trump’s legal team looks likely to make change-of-venue requests, with the former president talking up West Virginia in a Truth Social post late Wednesday. He said the Jan. 6 case “will hopefully be moved to an impartial Venue, such as the politically unbiased nearby State of West Virginia! IMPOSSIBLE to get a fair trial in Washington, D.C., which is over 95% anti-Trump.”
The next hearing in the case was reportedly scheduled for Aug. 28, which would be five days after the first GOP presidential primary debate.
Trump also entered pleas of not guilty earlier this year in a Manhattan case over hush-money payments and in a Miami case over classified documents. Another investigation, in Georgia’s Fulton County, centers on efforts by Trump and his allies to undo that state’s 2020 election result. The county prosecutor said over the weekend that she will announce charging decisions by Sept. 1 in that probe.
Biden told CNN Thursday that he was not planning to follow Trump’s arraignment, responding with an emphatic “no” when asked about it during a bike ride in Rehoboth Beach, Del., where he is vacationing this week.