Trump enters ‘not guilty’ plea at third arraignment
Don’t underestimate threat of Trump, Obama warns Biden
Former United States President Donald Trump yesterday pleaded not guilty to federal charges related to his effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election in a Washington DC court, making his third appearance as a criminal defendant in four months.
Trump, 77, was seen in the courtroom speaking with his lawyers and twiddling his thumbs before Thursday’s hearing began. He and Jack Smith, the special prosecutor leading the investigation, exchanged glances.
Trump travelled to court in a large motorcade alongside Secret Service agents and media after arriving in Washington on his private plane, known as Trump Force One.
The new allegations laid out early this week in an indictment or charge sheet, included a count of “conspiracy to impair, obstruct, and defeat the federal government function through dishonesty, fraud and deceit”.
The court, Elijah Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse, is just yards from the U.S. Capitol, scene of the riot on January 6, 2021, that heavily features in the latest indictment. The Republican politician has already been charged in two other cases: with mishandling classified files and falsifying business records to cover up a hush-money payment to a porn star.
MEANWHILE, former President Barack Obama has privately warned President Joe Biden not to underestimate Trump in the 2024 presidential election. Biden, who was vice president when Obama was in office, met his former boss at the White House in June. He told Biden that Trump, despite his legal entanglements, could be a more formidable opponent in next year’s election than many Democrats believe.
Obama cited the loyalty of Trump’s supporters, the polarised nature of the country and the influence of the former president’s surrogates in the media.
It came as a new CNN poll showed that the proportion of Republicans who believe Biden’s 2020 victory was not legitimate is increasing. The poll found that 69 per cent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents agree with Trump that Biden is not the rightfully elected president – up from 63 per cent earlier this year.
The White House lunch was held on June 27, when Obama vowed to do everything he could to help Biden get re-elected. According to a major recent poll, Biden and Trump are tied on 43 per cent in a hypothetical 2024 rematch. That means enthusing jaded voters and increasing turnout on election day would be crucial. Obama, who remains very popular with Democrat voters, will be sent to hold rallies in key states.
The former president will also hold fundraising events, having in the past been more successful at securing donations than Biden. Obama favoured Hillary Clinton over his vice president for the Democrat nomination in 2016, and did not immediately endorse Biden in 2020. However, aides have repeatedly denied suggestions of tension between the pair.
Most senior Republicans have stood by Trump, echoing his position that the charges were politically motivated and the result of the justice system being “weaponised” by Democrats.
However, some – including Mike Pence, Trump’s vice president, who he pressured to use his ceremonial role to block the certification of Biden’s victory – broke ranks.
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