Trump pleads not guilty to charges related to 2020 election aftermath

Former US President Donald Trump entered a not guilty plea on Thursday to charges accusing him of orchestrating a plot to overturn the 2020 election results. US prosecutors have characterized this as an unprecedented effort by the then-president to undermine American democracy.

Special Counsel Jack Smith, who has been overseeing the federal investigation, observed the arraignment from the front row of the Washington courthouse. Trump’s plea was made before US Magistrate Judge Moxila Upadhyaya, with the former president firmly stating, “Not guilty,” emphasizing the first word.

The half-hour arraignment took place approximately half a mile (1 km) from the US Capitol, the site of the January 6, 2021 insurrection, where Trump’s supporters attempted to halt Congress from certifying his electoral defeat.

Facing four counts, Trump is charged with conspiracy to defraud the US, depriving citizens of their voting rights, and obstructing an official proceeding. The most serious charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

Following the arraignment, Trump was released without travel restrictions. One of the conditions of his release is that he must refrain from discussing the case with any witnesses unless accompanied by his lawyers. Trump has consistently portrayed the indictment, along with other criminal cases against him, as a “witch hunt” aimed at undermining his White House campaign.