Trump pleads not guilty to election charges in Georgia, waives arraignment

Former President Donald Trump speaks with the press at the Iowa Pork Producers booth during the 2023 Iowa State Fair at the Iowa State Fair Grounds on Saturday August 12, 2023. 

Demetrius Freeman | The Washington Post | Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump on Thursday pleaded not guilty to criminal charges related to his efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory in Georgia and waived his right to appear at his arraignment next week, according to a court filing.

Trump’s arraignment on 13 felony charges is scheduled on Sept. 6 at 9:30 a.m. ET in Fulton County Superior Court in Atlanta.

“Understanding my rights, I do hereby freely and voluntarily waive my right to be present at my arraignment on the Indictment and my right to have it read to me in open court,” the former president said in the court filing.

Trump is far and away the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. He is facing a litany of charges in three other criminal cases with trial dates that overlap with the election campaign.

Trump is one of 19 co-defendants charged in a wide-ranging racketeering case that includes his former lawyer Rudy Giuliani, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, and several Republican state party officials among others who sought to overturn Biden’s 2020 victory in Georgia by various means.

Trump’s 18 co-defendants in the case will also be arraigned in Atlanta on Sept. 6. Giuliani will be arraigned at 9:45 a.m. The arraignment of the other 17 defendants is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.

The 41-count indictment returned by a grand jury alleges the defendants participated in a criminal enterprise that sought overturn Biden’s victory by trying to convince state legislators in Georgia through false statements and other means to unlawfully appoint fake electors to vote for Trump.

The most serious charge Trump faces in the Georgia case is violating the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years. The former president also faces various fraud and forgery charges.

Trump was arrested, fingerprinted and had his mugshot taken at the Fulton County jail last week. Following his Aug. 25 arrest, Trump was released on a $200,000 bond, which he posted with the help of a local bail bondsman.

Fulton County Sheriff’s Office

The conditions of his release are different than his 18 co-defendants. The conditions include a prohibition against making any “direct or indirect threat of any nature” against anyone involved in the case or against the broader “community” or its property.

“The above shall include, but are not limited to, posts on social media or reposts of posts made by another individual on social media,” wrote Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, who issued Trump’s bond order.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis initially proposed a trial date of March 4, 2024, in the Georgia election case, the day before the Super Tuesday primary contests and seven months before the presidential election.

But Willis’ plan was complicated when one of Trump’s co-defendants, Kenneth Chesebro, asked for a speedy trial date under Georgia law, which the judge set for Oct. 23. The district attorney then asked the judge for Trump and the 18 other defendants in the case to go to trial on the same date set for Chesebro.

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Trump’s lawyers oppose the October date and asked the judge Thursday to sever his case from the defendants who are asking for a speedy trial.

Trump faces dozens of charges in three other criminal cases. In two separate federal cases brought by special counsel Jack Smith, the former president has been indicted on charges related to his attempt to overturn Biden’s victory in the 2020 election and for mishandling classified documents. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Federal judges have set trial dates of March 4, 2024, in the federal election interference case and May 20, 2024, in the classified documents case.

In New York state, Trump has been charged with falsifying business records related to hush money payments to women who say they had extramarital affairs with him. Trump denies the allegations of extramarital affairs.

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