Former US President Donald Trump is set to face formal charges at a court hearing for allegedly attempting to overturn his 2020 election defeat. The 77-year-old is scheduled to appear at a federal courthouse in Washington DC on Thursday at 4:00 PM EDT (8:00 PM GMT). It is expected that Trump will attend the hearing in person and plead not guilty to the charges.
Ahead of the arraignment, Trump criticized the case as evidence of the “corruption, scandal, and failure” of the US under President Joe Biden’s leadership. This latest indictment comprises four counts, including conspiracy to defraud the US, tampering with a witness, and conspiracy against the rights of citizens. Trump already faces two other criminal cases while campaigning for the White House in the upcoming election year.
Security has been heightened in Washington DC for the hearing, with metal barriers erected outside the federal courthouse where the charges will be formally read. Similar measures have been taken around the US Capitol buildings in response to the January 2021 riot by Trump supporters who were angry about the election result.
The Secret Service, responsible for protecting presidents and ex-presidents, issued a statement warning of “short-term traffic implications” in central Washington DC. Security for the judges involved in the case has also been increased. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is handling the criminal trial, recently revealed that she has not slept since being assigned to Trump’s case.
On his Truth Social platform, Trump thanked his followers for their support while also launching attacks against rival Republican presidential hopefuls, including former Vice-President Mike Pence and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Trump’s legal team plans to argue that he was protected by the right to free speech under the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
The former president’s lawyers are also pushing for a delayed trial to allow sufficient time for organizing his defense. Several other suspects accused of involvement in the US Capitol riot have had their hearings postponed. Trump remains the leading contender in the Republican Party’s race to select its next presidential candidate, with congressional Republicans rallying around him, alleging that the indictments amount to election interference. Pence, who has struggled to gain traction in the 2024 White House race, defended his actions on January 6, 2021, during a campaign stop in Indiana. The 45-page election-related indictment against Trump is based partly on contemporaneous notes kept by Pence of their conversations leading up to the riot. In addition to this case, prosecutors in Georgia may bring criminal charges against Trump this month over alleged efforts to undermine the 2020 election result in the state.