Donald Trump pleads not guilty to charges over January 6 riot and bid to overturn election result | US News
Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election result, culminating in the January 6 riot at the US Capitol building.
Special counsel at the justice department Jack Smith said the 2021 attack on Congress by Trump supporters was “an unprecedented assault on the seat of American democracy” that was “fuelled by lies” from the former president.
The indictment alleged Trump and his Republican allies repeatedly lied about the results in the two months after he lost the November 2020 election and pressured his vice president, Mike Pence, and state election officials to take action to help him cling to power.
The counts against Trump include conspiracy to defraud the US, to deprive citizens of their right to have their votes counted, and to obstruct an official proceeding – interrupting Congress during its certification of Democrat Joe Biden.
The most serious charges, obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy to obstruct, both carry a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. The charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States has a maximum sentence of five years, while conspiracy against rights has a maximum sentence of 10 years.
In court, Trump did not appear to show much emotion and was not angry or upset, according to witnesses who were there.
He wore a suit and red tie and chatted with his lawyers before the judge arrived. At one point he scribbled notes on a piece of paper in front of him and handed it to his lawyer.
Before entering his plea Trump answered basic questions from the judge and was informed of the charges against him and the potential penalties.
US Magistrate Judge Moxila Upadhyaya set the next hearing for 28 August. But she said Trump would not be required to attend.
The arraignment, which lasted around half an hour, took place just half a mile from the US Capitol, the building Trump’s supporters stormed on January 6 2021.
Speaking outside the court earlier, Trump’s legal spokesperson Alina Habba said: “This is election interference at its finest, against the leading candidate for president, from either party.
“President Trump is under siege in a way that we have never seen before. Donald Trump and his legal team, and everyone on his team, will continue to fight – not for him, but for the American people.”
She claimed Trump had told his supporters who disagreed with the election result to “go patriotically and peacefully and protest”.
Third criminal case brought against Trump in six weeks
It is the third criminal case brought against Trump in the last six weeks.
He was charged in New York with falsifying business records in connection with an alleged hush money payment to porn actor Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign.
He has also been charged with 40 felony counts in Florida, accused of illegally retaining classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate and refusing government demands to return them.
He has pleaded not guilty in both cases, which are set for trial next year.