Washington: For the third time, Donald Trump is scheduled to appear in a courtroom as a criminal defendant.
Trump is due in court Thursday before US District Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington for the charges he faces related to his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Trump faces four counts of conspiracy in the indictment released Tuesday, including “conspiracy to defraud” the United States.
In April, Trump appeared in a New York state courtroom to plead not guilty to 34 charges in a hush money scheme stemming from the 2016 election.
In June, he appeared in federal court in Florida to plead not guilty to 37 charges that he illegally hoarded classified documents.
Last week, prosecutors filed additional charges in that case, alleging that he asked a staffer to delete camera footage at his Florida home to obstruct a federal probe into the records. He now faces 40 counts in that case.
Trump is the first former president to face an indictment and the first former US president to be prosecuted by the government he once ran.
Justice Department Special counsel Jack Smith, whose team of prosecutors questioned senior Trump administration officials before a grand jury in Washington, said that the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol was “fueled by lies” from Donald Trump.
Smith made a brief statement in Washington shortly after the indictment against the former president was released Tuesday.
“The attack on our nation’s capital on January 6, 2021, was an unprecedented assault on the seat of American democracy,” Smith said, adding that the law enforcement officers who defended the Capitol that day were heroes.
Smith said he’d seek a speedy trial for the former president.
Trump unbowed, woos supporters
Meanwhile, Trump sought to spin his latest indictments into a 2024 campaign pitch Wednesday, with the former president arguing government “corruption” and the legal attacks against him have plunged America into decline.
The twice-impeached Republican has remained defiant despite an accumulation of legal woes that could see him tried in court and sent to prison before the presidential vote late next year.
The latest, a bombshell 45-page indictment unsealed Tuesday, is the most serious set of charges he faces in accusing Trump of trying to overturn the 2020 election results.
It was the third time officials have handed down criminal charges against Trump, who continues to argue that the election was rigged.
In a post on his Truth Social platform, the 77-year-old Trump suggested the indictment was all the more reason for his supporters to circle the wagons and elect him next year.
“I have never had so much support on anything before,” Trump said in a five-sentence post written in all caps.
“This unprecedented indictment of a former (highly successful!) president, & the leading candidate, by far, in both the Republican Party and the 2024 general election, has awoken the world to the corruption, scandal & failure that has taken place in the United States for the past three years,” he added.
“America is a nation in decline, but we will make it great again, greater than ever before.”
The comments are the latest by the pugnacious ex-president insisting the charges against him are “fake,” and that President Joe Biden is actively seeking to derail the campaign of his political rival.
Trump already faces criminal prosecution over his handling of classified documents at his Florida estate after he left the White House, and over hush-money payments made to a pornographic actress in the run-up to the 2016 election.
Georgia prosecutors are also looking into whether Trump illegally attempted to overturn the 2020 election outcome in the southern state.
Despite his legal peril, Trump retains the loyalty of a large segment of his party. He holds a substantial lead in polls for the Republican nomination and is seen as widening the gap with his nearest rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
Biden has declined to comment on the case, and his officials stress that the Justice Department is independent from the White House.