Trump’s arraignment: What to expect at court appearance in Washington

Former United States President Donald Trump is due to answer to four felony charges related to his alleged efforts to remain in power following his loss in the 2020 election, at the Prettyman Barrett Elijah Federal Courthouse in Washington, DC on Thursday.

Here is the information you need to be aware of regarding the upcoming arraignment.

In 2024, Trump aims to regain the presidency as he resumes his campaign activities, following his release, prior to pleading not guilty in the presence of a judge and subsequently being officially apprehended by law enforcement, where he is anticipated to undergo the necessary procedures.

What are the accusations?

Joe Biden, the winner of the official certification meeting in Congress, was charged with four felony counts related to his efforts to undo the results of the presidential election on January 6, 2021, and to conspire with others to obstruct the US government and defraud the conspiracy. The indictment was announced on Tuesday by Special Counsel Smith, charging Trump.

Rioters in front of Capitol building
Rioters at the US Capitol try to disrupt a count of Electoral College votes to certify Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election on January 6, 2021 [File: Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo]

The charges could result in a prison term lasting for several years if there is a conviction.

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Trump was the only person charged in the case, although prosecutors referenced six co-conspirators, mostly lawyers, whom they say he plotted with to enlist fake Trump-voting electors and submit false certificates to change the outcome of the federal government by winning seven battleground states.

In order to maintain his hold on power, Trump and his supporters consistently spread false information about the election outcome during the two-month period following his loss. They falsely claimed that Trump emerged as the winner and exerted pressure on his vice president, Mike Pence, as well as state election officials. Smith characterized this as an assault on a fundamental aspect of the US government. The indictment provides a detailed account of the events.

Who is the person named Jack Smith?

Jack Smith, the former President’s appointed Attorney General, appointed Merrick Garland to lead two investigations within the Department of Justice. Additionally, the special counsel, Jack Smith, filed a federal criminal indictment against Trump.

In June, Smith filed his first case against Trump in a federal court in Florida, charging him with mishandling classified documents and allegations.

What sets an indictment apart from an arraignment?

An indictment is a formal written statement accusing an individual of committing a crime.

An arraignment is often the initial hearing where a defendant enters a plea in a criminal case and learns more about the charges and their rights.

In this scenario, a formal accusation against Trump has already been issued, and he will be formally charged on Thursday.

Hasn’t Trump already been indicted in 2023?

Yes. This is the third legal case filed against Trump in the last four months.

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He was charged in New York at the end of March for allegedly falsifying business records in connection with a hush money payment to a pornographic actor during his 2016 presidential campaign.

Smith’s office has also charged him with 40 felony counts in Florida, accusing him of illegally retaining classified documents after he left office, and keeping them at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, despite refusing to return them to the government.

Trump remains the undisputed front-runner to secure the Republican Party’s nomination once again. As the competition intensifies for the upcoming November 2024 presidential election, both of the lawsuits, in which he has entered a plea of not guilty, are scheduled for trial.

Is he going to be apprehended?

During the arraignments, if the defendants confess their culpability or submit a plea of no contest to the accusations brought against them, the case generally progresses to the phase of determining the appropriate punishment.

Judges determine the conditions of release and the schedules for preliminary hearings and subsequent trials if defendants enter a plea of not guilty – an action anticipated from Trump.

Prior to his trials, it is unlikely that Trump will be detained in prison in connection with either case following his release after both initial hearings.

Will Trump attend his most recent court hearing in person?

Trump participated in his previous two court hearings, but he has the choice of appearing for Thursday’s court hearing remotely.

John Lauro, the lawyer, has stated that a decision on how Trump will appear has not yet been made, so it depends on the security arrangements.

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At what time will Trump be charged?

Trump is slated to present himself before the judiciary, either remotely or in person, in Washington, DC, at 4pm (20:00 GMT) on Thursday.

Who presides over the arraignment?

Chutkan Tanya, a US District Judge, will preside over the case moving forward, in which an appointee of former President Barack Obama, who stood out as one of the toughest punishers of Capitol rioters, will be prosecuted. The arraignment will be handled by US Magistrate Judge Moxila Upadyaha, who joined the bench last year.

Trump had asserted executive privilege to refuse the release of documents to the investigating committee of the House of Representatives, blocking their release before the riots on January 6, 2021. She has also ruled against Trump in November.

Is Trump eligible to run for president in 2024?

However, this indictment may provide a pathway for President Trump to run from blocked charges in the third indictment, as the US Constitution allows those convicted of a crime to run for president.

According to the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, Americans cannot hold office if they have been engaged in a rebellion or insurrection against the United States while under oath to the nation.

What are the objections to Trump’s indictment?

Supporters of Trump are portraying Tuesday’s indictment as a continuation of the so-called deep state and media conspiracy, an effort by the Democrats to interfere with the nation’s elections and take down the former president.

Trump, the disadvantaged Trump, has failed to produce any evidence of interference in the election. However, his allies, as well as the media and government, have told his supporters for years that he is a victim of corrupt persecution and that elections cannot be trusted.

While many prominent Republicans have defended the former president, several others – including, most notably, Pence – have criticised the former president.

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