Donald Trump arrived at the federal courthouse in Washington for arraignment on charges that he conspired to obstruct the 2020 presidential election and interfere with the voting rights of millions of Americans.
As Trump's motorcade pulled into an underground garage, some supporters and protesters waited behind police barriers outside. The court building stands within sight of the US Capitol that was attacked by mobs of his followers on January 6, 2021 as Congress was certifying Joe Biden's victory.
The former president is expected to be arraigned Thursday after he is processed by the US Marshals Service, which will take his fingerprints and his personal information. He is not expected to have a mugshot taken because he's a recognizable person and many photographs already exist, a Marshals Service spokesperson said.
During his first appearance before a federal judge in the election case, he is expected to enter a plea to the charges. He's also expected to remain free as the prosecution moves forward.
This is the third criminal case against Trump, and the Atlanta-area district attorney is set to announce soon if she'll pursue a fourth indictment tied to her probe of election interference in Georgia.
Trump's journey to his arraignment was chronicled on live television Thursday as a line of dark vehicles left his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf course for his private plane at Newark International Airport. That coverage included his plane landing at Reagan National Airport in Washington and his motorcade entering the nation's capital to the court.
Barricades and yellow tape were present around the perimeter of the courthouse, along with several snow plows lined up near the side of the building. Crowds formed outside showing the political divisions Americans have over Trump.
Trump's case was randomly assigned to US District Judge Tanya Chutkan after a grand jury returned the indictment on Aug. 1. She will preside over the proceedings going forward. She'll have to navigate Trump's busy court calendar and the demands of his 2024 presidential campaign.
Trump has derided the criminal cases against him as politically motivated. In a statement Tuesday, his campaign said the Washington indictment involved "fake charges" brought by President Joe Biden's "weaponized Department of Justice" to interfere with the 2024 election.
Special Counsel John "Jack" Smith's office secured a four-count indictment this week that accuses Trump of conspiring to defraud the US by interfering with the counting of votes in 2020, obstructing and conspiring to obstruct Congress' certification of the election results, and conspiring against the right to vote.
The indictment refers to six alleged co-conspirators who haven't been charged. In announcing the case, Smith said that the investigation was ongoing and Bloomberg News previously reported that more witnesses were scheduled to appear before the grand jury later this month.
Smith's office separately has charged Trump in Florida with mishandling state secrets after he left office and conspiring with two of his employees to try to obstruct the government's efforts to get those classified documents back from his Mar-a-Lago resort. Trump has pleaded not guilty to those charges.
In New York, the former president is facing an indictment on state charges alleging he falsified business records in connection with hush payments to an adult film star before the 2016 election. He's pleaded not guilty. Trials in the New York and Florida cases are set for March and May, respectively.
In Georgia, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has been pursuing a parallel investigation into efforts by Trump and others to overturn President Joe Biden's win in the state.
Nothing in Article II of the Constitution, which sets the qualifications for the presidency, bars Trump from running or taking office while he faces the current charges against him, even if he's in prison "- though how to serve from behind bars would pose a novel problem. The 14th Amendment, adopted in the wake of the Civil War, bars anyone who has "engaged in insurrection or rebellion" from holding office. Some advocacy groups say they're prepared to sue to apply the prohibition to Trump or pressure state governments to disqualify him from the ballot.
The case is US v. Trump, 23-cr-00257, US District Court, District of Columbia (Washington, DC).