August 3, 2023 Trump pleads not guilty on 2020 election interference charges

By Aditi Sangal, Matt Meyer, Maureen Chowdhury, Elise Hammond and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 8:27 a.m. ET, August 4, 2023
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3:30 p.m. ET, August 3, 2023

Trump has arrived at the DC court for his arraignment. Here are the charges he faces in the 2020 election case

From CNN's Tierney Sneed, Holmes Lybrand, Hannah Rabinowitz and Katelyn Polantz

Former President Donald Trump arrives at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Thursday, August 3, in Arlington, Virginia.
Former President Donald Trump arrives at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Thursday, August 3, in Arlington, Virginia. Alex Brandon/AP

Former President Donald Trump has arrived at the US District Court in Washington, DC, to make his initial appearance in federal court after being indicted in special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election leading up to the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.

Trump will be placed in the custody of the US Marshals Service and he will be processed as part of the proceedings.

When he was placed into custody for the first appearance in the classified documents prosecution last month in Miami’s federal courthouse, he submitted to fingerprints and provided other information to court officials, though he was not required to take a mugshot.

The processing for the DC appearance will likely be more streamlined, given that Trump is now already in the federal system. 

Part of the purpose of Thursday’s hearing is for the magistrate judge, Judge Moxila Upadhyaya, to approve of the bail conditions that will allow him to be released from federal custody up until trial. 

Trump is expected to plead not guilty. He has been charged with four counts:

  • Conspiracy to defraud the United States
  • Conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding
  • Obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding
  • Conspiracy against rights

Trump's motorcade arrives at the E. Barrett Prettyman US Courthouse for arraignment, in Washington, DC, on August 3.
Trump's motorcade arrives at the E. Barrett Prettyman US Courthouse for arraignment, in Washington, DC, on August 3. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

6:54 p.m. ET, August 3, 2023

Chief judge greets reporters and the public ahead of Trump's historic arraignment at DC courthouse

From CNN's Hannah Rabinowitz

James Boasberg poses for a photo in Washington, DC, in March.
James Boasberg poses for a photo in Washington, DC, in March. Valerie Plesch/Bloomberg via Getty Images/FILE

Chief Judge James Boasberg has spent part of this historic day meeting and greeting reporters and members of the public at the E. Barrett Prettyman federal courthouse ahead of former President Donald Trump's arraignment

Boasberg assumed the chief judge role — one of the most influential judgeships in the nation’s capital – just a few months ago.

As the judge who oversees the grand jury, he has played a key role in deciding issues in the investigation that culminated in the criminal case against the former president.

Read more about the role of the chief judge here.

3:05 p.m. ET, August 3, 2023

Security sweeps being conducted in federal court where Trump will soon appear

From CNN's Holmes Lybrand

The US Secret Service has made several security sweeps inside the federal courthouse, including on the second floor, where Donald Trump will appear before a magistrate judge for his initial appearance on Thursday.

The probation office and pretrial services — where the former president will likely be processed — are also on the second floor. 

Court security has cleared the atrium on the courthouse's first floor, all but guaranteeing Trump will only be seen in the courtroom and not walking through the building itself. 

Court security and Secret Service members have been stationed around the courtroom since earlier this afternoon. 

Trump has landed at Reagan National Airport, and a motorcade has departed special counsel Jack Smith’s office in Washington, DC.

4:01 p.m. ET, August 3, 2023

Trump lands at Reagan National Airport ahead of federal arraignment in DC 

From CNN staff

Former President Donald Trump's airplane flies behind the Washington Monument as it makes its final approach into Reagan National Airport on Thursday.
Former President Donald Trump's airplane flies behind the Washington Monument as it makes its final approach into Reagan National Airport on Thursday. Jess Rapfogel/AP

Donald Trump's plane has landed at Reagan National Airport in Virginia and the former president will soon head to a Washington, DC, federal courthouse to be arraigned on charges related to efforts to overturn the 2020 election. 

After arriving at the courthouse, Trump will be placed under arrest, processed and likely arraigned in court.

2:43 p.m. ET, August 3, 2023

Pence campaign selling "Too Honest" merchandise in reference to Trump indictment

From CNN's Kyung Lah

 

Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks at an event in New York in November.
Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks at an event in New York in November. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images/FILE

Former Vice President Mike Pence’s campaign is selling T-shirts and hats branded with "Too Honest," referencing a phrase Donald Trump allegedly uttered to Pence when he refused to go along with the former president’s request to reject electoral votes and change the outcome of the 2020 election. 

According to the federal indictment, in one conversation on January 1, 2021, Trump told Pence he was “too honest” when the vice president said he lacked the authority to change the results. 

After Trump was indicted earlier this week, Pence said that "anyone who puts themselves over the Constitution should never be president," and added that Trump "was surrounded by a group of crackpot lawyers who kept telling him what his itching ears wanted to hear."

6:55 p.m. ET, August 3, 2023

As he heads to Washington, Trump criticizes judge overseeing the 2020 election interference case

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

Former President Donald Trump's airplane taxis at Newark Liberty International Airport on Thursday.
Former President Donald Trump's airplane taxis at Newark Liberty International Airport on Thursday. WCBS

As he headed to Washington, DC, for a court appearance, former President Trump claimed both the venue and judge overseeing the latest case against him are "UNFAIR." 

"Biden and his family steal Millions and Millions of Dollars, including BRIBES from foreign countries, and I’m headed to D.C. to be ARRESTED for protesting a CROOKED ELECTION. UNFAIR VENUE, UNFAIR JUDGE. We are a Nation in Decline. MAGA!!!" Trump posted on Truth Social.

Trump is expected to publicly address the new charges, stemming from his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, after he leaves court Thursday, according to a person familiar with the schedule.

The former president is set to appear before a Magistrate Judge Moxila Upadhyaya this afternoon. Handling the case going forward will be federal District Judge Tanya Chutkan.

The motorcade of former President Donald Trump arrives at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey, on Thursday.
The motorcade of former President Donald Trump arrives at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey, on Thursday. Peter Foley/AFP via Getty Images

Chutkan has repeatedly spoken out in very strong terms against the efforts to overturn the election and disrupt the transfer of power. Though she was randomly appointed to oversee the special counsel’s criminal case, she is no stranger to January 6, 2021, litigation.

In November 2021, Chutkan forcefully rejected Trump’s attempts to block the House select committee investigating January 6 from accessing more than 700 pages of records from his White House.

Earlier, Trump posted on Truth Social: “I NEED ONE MORE INDICTMENT TO ENSURE MY ELECTION!”

CNN's Hannah Rabinowitz and Marshall Cohen contributed reporting to this post.

2:16 p.m. ET, August 3, 2023

Trump en route to Washington, DC, for federal arraignment 

From CNN staff

Former President Donald Trump's motorcade enroute to the Newark airport on Thursday.
Former President Donald Trump's motorcade enroute to the Newark airport on Thursday. CNN

Former President Donald Trump's plane has departed Newark, New Jersey, and he is headed to Washington, DC, to be arraigned on charges related to efforts to overturn the 2020 election. 

As part of special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation, Trump was charged on Tuesday with: conspiracy to defraud the United States; conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding; and conspiracy against rights.

What to expect later today: After arriving at the US District Court this afternoon, Trump will be placed under arrest, processed and likely arraigned in court.

Because Trump has already been processed in the federal system for his arrest in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case, his booking today is likely to be streamlined.

Trump is expected to plead not guilty and to be released pending trial.

This is Trump's third arrest in four months. Smith charged Trump in the classified documents probe in June, and a Manhattan grand jury charged the former president for business fraud in March. Trump, who is running for president in 2024, pleaded not guilty in both cases.

Former President Donald Trump boards his plane at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey, on Thursday.
Former President Donald Trump boards his plane at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey, on Thursday. Seth Wenig/AP

6:55 p.m. ET, August 3, 2023

Talking point that Trump faces a two-tiered justice system is disingenuous, CNN legal analyst says 

Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in August 2022 in Dallas.
Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in August 2022 in Dallas. Brandon Bell/Getty Images/FILE

Following the latest indictment of Donald Trump, the former president's allies immediately began defending him and repeatedly said that he is facing a "two-tiered justice system" — a claim CNN's chief legal analyst Laura Coates said is disingenuous.

"It's an interesting talking point — I have been a prosecutor. I will be the first to tell you, yes, when it comes to the justice system, there's a divide between the haves and have-nots," Coates noted, however; she went on to say that you can walk into any courthouse in America and see that those with extraordinary means have a very different experience than those who do not.

"The conflation of this notion of this two-tiered justice system is only applicable if your person is the one who is now going to be held to account, is just not a fair or accurate assessment of it," Coates said.

She added, "I think it's really disingenuous to have a talking point that suggests that this is a continuation of what the rest of the nation's been talking about" with regard to injustices within the justice system.

Coates then acknowledged that despite the claim not aligning with the reality of what most people face in the country, it is still a valuable talking point and "it has legs."

1:51 p.m. ET, August 3, 2023

Trump will face his 3rd arrest in 4 months. Here's what we expect to unfold in the DC courthouse today 

From CNN's Tierney Sneed, Holmes Lybrand, Hannah Rabinowitz and Katelyn Polantz

Former President Donald Trump leaves his home in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Thursday.
Former President Donald Trump leaves his home in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Thursday. WABC

Former President Donald Trump is set to have his initial appearance in federal court in Washington, DC, after being indicted in special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election leading up to the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.

Trump is flying to Washington before heading to US District Court for his 4 p.m. ET appearance. He is expected to speak after the appearance, before he departs to return to Bedminster, New Jersey.

The former president is scheduled to appear before Magistrate Judge Moxila Upadhyaya. Handling the case going forward will be federal District Judge Tanya Chutkan.

After arriving at the courthouse, Trump is expected to be placed under arrest, processed and likely arraigned in court. Because Trump has already been processed in the federal system for his arrest in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case, his booking today is likely to be streamlined.

Trump is expected to plead not guilty and to be released pending trial. He has been charged with four counts:

  • Conspiracy to defraud the United States
  • Conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding
  • Obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding
  • Conspiracy against rights

Law enforcement officials are monitoring for potential threats, protests and online chatter as well as coordinating with one another on security plans. DC’s Metropolitan Police Department will be leading security in the district, while US Secret Service oversees protection of the former president, and the US Marshals Service runs security inside the courthouse. 

Special counsel Jack Smith speaks to reporters on Tuesday.
Special counsel Jack Smith speaks to reporters on Tuesday. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

This is Trump's third arrest in four months. Smith charged Trump in the classified documents probe in June, and a Manhattan grand jury charged the former president for business fraud in March. Trump, who is running for president in 2024, pleaded not guilty in both cases.