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The United States vs. Donald J. Trump: Former president faces four felony counts 


Last week, in a courtroom in Washington, D.C., Donald J. Trump appeared and entered a plea of not guilty to charges of attempting to overturn the results of his 2020 election defeat. The former president faced federal accusations of orchestrating a bold and ultimately unsuccessful effort to obstruct the peaceful transfer of presidential power.

Trump appeared before a magistrate judge in Washington’s federal courthouse two days after being indicted on four felony counts by Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith. 

In what is considered the most historically significant criminal case among the three he is facing, Trump is accused of attempting to undermine the will of voters and impede the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s victory before January 6, 2021. This was the day when a mob of his supporters violently clashed with law enforcement and stormed the U.S. Capitol.

Trump, the 2024 Republican presidential primary front-runner, sat with a stern demeanor, hands folded, and occasionally shook his head while conferring with his attorney. He also glanced around the courtroom as the proceedings commenced. When it was time to enter his plea, he stood up and declared “not guilty.” Throughout the arraignment, he answered the judge’s perfunctory questions and expressed gratitude to her before the session concluded.

During the approximately half-hour hearing, Magistrate Judge Moxila Upadhyaya presided and issued an order for Trump not to communicate about the case with any witnesses except through his legal counsel or in their presence. In response to a request from Trump’s lawyers, Judge Upadhyaya scheduled the first hearing before the trial judge, Tanya Chutkan, for August 28, which was the latest option available. This arrangement was made to ensure a fair and orderly legal process as the case moves forward.

The indictment against Trump includes four felony counts connected to his actions to overturn his election defeat, such as conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding. If convicted, these charges could potentially result in a lengthy prison sentence.

During the court proceedings, Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith was present in the front row behind the prosecutors handling the case. Additionally, three police officers who defended the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, were seen entering the courthouse.

Trump maintains his innocence and has stated that the latest case is an attack on his right to free speech, with his legal team arguing that his actions were protected by the First Amendment.

The case against the former president is part of a series of escalating legal challenges he is facing. This new case comes nearly two months after Trump pleaded not guilty to numerous federal felony counts related to hoarding classified documents and obstructing government efforts to retrieve them. While Trump is the only person charged in this specific case, prosecutors have mentioned six unnamed co-conspirators, mostly lawyers, who they allege were involved in a scheme to enlist fake electors in seven battleground states won by Biden to submit false certificates to the federal government.

The indictment details how Trump and his Republican allies repeatedly made false statements about the election results in the two months following his defeat. They allegedly pressured his vice president, Mike Pence, and state election officials to take actions to help him maintain power, which the special counsel, Jack Smith, described as an attack on a fundamental function of the U.S. government.

This is the third criminal case brought against Trump in less than six months. He was also charged in New York for falsifying business records related to a hush money payment to a porn actor during the 2016 presidential campaign. In addition, Smith’s office has charged him with 40 felony counts in Florida for illegally retaining classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate and refusing government demands to return them.

In all of these cases, Trump has pleaded not guilty. The trials for the New York and Florida cases are scheduled to take place next year. It’s important to remember that legal proceedings will continue, and the final outcomes of these cases will be determined through the judicial process.


The District Attorney for Fulton County, Fani Willis, are expected to announce charging decisions in an investigation into efforts to subvert election results in the state. Trump’s lawyer, John Lauro, has asserted that Trump’s actions were protected by the First Amendment right to free speech and that he relied on the advice of lawyers. Trump has also claimed, without evidence, that the investigation is an attempt to interfere with the 2024 presidential election.


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