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Trump pleads not guilty to charges of trying to overturn 2020 election

Click to play video: '‘We can’t let this happen in America’: Trump reacts after pleading not guilty to 2020 election charges'
‘We can’t let this happen in America’: Trump reacts after pleading not guilty to 2020 election charges
WATCH: Former U.S. president Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to charges he conspired to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Jackson Proskow explains – Aug 3, 2023

Former U.S. president Donald Trump pleaded not guilty to federal charges after being arraigned in Washington, D.C. on Thursday related to an investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riots.

The U.S. magistrate judge overseeing the arraignment, Moxila Upadhyaya, set the next court date for Aug. 28, however said Trump will not be required to attend. He added that U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who will oversee the trial, is expected to set a trial date at that time.

“This is a persecution of a political opponent. This was never supposed to happen in America,” Trump said before he boarded his plane back to New Jersey after the hearing, adding it was a “very sad day for America.”

Click to play video: '‘Sad day for America’: Trump speaks after pleading not guilty to latest charges'
‘Sad day for America’: Trump speaks after pleading not guilty to latest charges

Trump was charged Tuesday with four criminal counts, including conspiracy to defraud the United States, attempting to obstruct an official proceeding and conspiracy to injure, oppress, threaten and intimidate those exercising the right to vote and to have one’s vote counted.

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The revelations were revealed as part of a newly unsealed federal indictment that accused the former U.S. president of conspiring with six close allies to try and overturn his 2020 election loss to President Joe Biden and unlawfully block the transfer of power.

This eventually led to the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, attack by Trump’s supporters on the U.S. Capitol.

Click to play video: 'Trump wrongly prosecuted for questioning 2020 election outcome, McCarthy says'
Trump wrongly prosecuted for questioning 2020 election outcome, McCarthy says

Trump was released without travel restrictions. One of his conditions of release is that he not discuss the case with any witnesses unless accompanied by his lawyers.

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The indictment handed down by a special grand jury in Washington marks the third time this year Trump has been hit with criminal charges, adding more legal pressure as he seeks to return to the White House in 2024.

But much like the 38 criminal counts he faces in the classified documents case — which alleges Trump withheld national security materials and misled federal investigators seeking their return — the election case headed by special counsel Jack Smith casts a dark cloud over the implications of Trump potentially reclaiming not just the Republican nomination, but the presidency as well.

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Click to play video: 'Trump expecting another indictment in Georgia case'
Trump expecting another indictment in Georgia case

The indictment alleges that Trump knew his claims of widespread election fraud were false but spread them anyway in order to legitimize the lies, “create an intense national atmosphere of mistrust and anger, and erode public faith in the administration of the election.”

The document describes six unnamed co-conspirators who were close allies of Trump and were allegedly enlisted to help in his efforts to overturn the election and remain in power, despite also knowing the claims of fraud were false.

The federal judge assigned to the election fraud case has stood out as one of the toughest punishers of rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol.

Click to play video: 'Trump says his legal difficulties would go away if he wern’t running for President'
Trump says his legal difficulties would go away if he wern’t running for President

Chutkan, a former assistant public defender who was nominated to the bench by former president Barack Obama, has handed down prison sentences in Jan. 6 riot cases that are harsher than Justice Department prosecutors recommended.

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Chutkan has also ruled against Trump before in a separate Jan. 6 case. In November 2021, she refused his request to block the release of documents to the U.S. House’s Jan. 6 committee by asserting executive privilege.

She rejected his arguments that he could hold privilege over documents from his administration even after Biden had cleared the way for the National Archives to turn the papers over. She wrote that Trump could not claim his privilege “exists in perpetuity.”

Click to play video: 'Trump faces new charges over alleged tampering with security cameras'
Trump faces new charges over alleged tampering with security cameras

In a memorable line from her ruling, Chutkan wrote, “Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President.”

Trump will make his court appearance on Thursday before Magistrate Judge Moxila A. Upadhyaya. Such judges handle initial matters in federal cases.

Click to play video: 'Trump indicted over efforts to overturn 2020 election results: Jack Smith'
Trump indicted over efforts to overturn 2020 election results: Jack Smith

— with files from Global News’ Sean Boynton and Sean Previl, The Associated Press and Reuters

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