Trump pleads not guilty in Georgia election subversion case

Former president waives arraignment in case where he faces 13 charges as part of a criminal conspiracy to overturn election results

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Thursday 31 August 2023 18:26 BST
Related video: Donald Trump arrested for fourth time

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Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty in the Georgia election subversion case to charges that he took part in criminal conspiracies in connection to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election in the state.

The former president entered the plea on Thursday morning, waiving a formal arraignment following the 13 felony counts being filed against him.

The filing put forward by one of his lawyers was signed by Mr Trump, stating: “As evidenced by my signature below, I do hereby waive formal arraignment and enter my plea of NOT GUILTY to the indictment in this case.”

A number of the other 18 defendants in the case have also waived their arraignments and pleaded not guilty.

Mr Trump and his co-defendants have been charged with racketeering, standing accused of operating a “criminal enterprise” through the alleged attempts to stop the certification of the 2020 results in Georgia, a state won by President Joe Biden, the first Democrat to do so since Bill Clinton in 1992.

In the filing put forward on Thursday, Mr Trump wrote: “I have discussed the charges in the Indictment and this Waiver of Appearance at Arraignment with my attorney Steven H. Sadow, and I fully understand the nature of the offenses charged and my right to appear at arraignment.”

Mr Trump surrendered and had his mug shot taken at the Fulton County Jail on 24 August. He was also fingerprinted before being released on $200,000 bond.

Mr Trump is the first former president to face charges. He has been indicted four times this year, and he did appear for his first three arraignments – he was required to attend in New York on charges related to alleged hush money payments and in Miami in connection to his alleged mishandling of classified documents.

Former President Donald Trump is shown in a police booking mugshot released by the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office
Former President Donald Trump is shown in a police booking mugshot released by the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office (via REUTERS)

In Washington, DC, he chose not to request a virtual appearance in the federal case against him on charges related to his attempts to stay in power despite losing the election to Mr Biden.

The only jurisdiction where Mr Trump is facing charges where waived arraignments are a regular practice is Fulton County, Georgia, CBS noted.

The Atlanta lawyer representing former New York mayor and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Brian Tevis, told CBS News that most defendants afforded the option to waive arraignment elect to do that.

“Ninety-nine per cent of the time defendants choose to waive formal arraignment and to not have to appear if the judge allows it,” he said, indicating that Mr Giuliani is set to do the same.

In April of this year, Mr Trump pled not guilty at the New York arraignment to 34 felony counts of falsification of business records in connection to the hush money payments in 2016 to adult actor Stormy Daniels.

He pled not guilty in June to 37 felony counts on the federal level linked to his “willful retention” of national security information. Mr Trump wasn’t required to appear at a subsequent hearing in July when one of his lawyers entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf to a further three charges added to the indictment regarding his handling of sensitive information.

Mr Trump also pled not guilty on 3 August to the four felony counts on the federal level in connection to the charges against him for attempting to overturn the 2020 election results.

When Mr Trump will go on trial in Georgia is unclear as the 19 defendants in the case are attempting to wrangle the process to give themselves the best possible framework for their trials. Mr Trump’s former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has attempted to get his trial moved to the federal level to get a friendlier jury pool, and Mr Trump is expected to do the same.

His arraignment in the case had been scheduled for Wednesday next week in Atlanta.

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