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After His Hearing in Federal Court, Trump Calls It a ‘Very Sad Day for America.’ Follow Live Updates

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Former President Donald Trump waves as he steps off his plane at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023, in Arlington, Virginia. (AP/Alex Brandon)
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Follow along for live updates as Donald Trump appears in federal court Thursday after being indicted by the Justice Department for his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

It’s the third criminal case brought against the former president as he seeks to reclaim the White House.

WHAT TO KNOW

— Here’s a breakdown of the sprawling election indictment

— Trump lawyer hints at a First Amendment defense in the Jan. 6 case

— Republicans are remaining silent about the latest charges against Trump

— The judge assigned to Trump’s case is a tough punisher of Capitol rioters

— Here’s where the various cases involving Trump stand

TRUMP TALKS AFTER HEARING

Trump said it was a “very sad day for America” after pleading not guilty in Washington’s federal court to charges that he conspired to overturn the 2020 election.

Trump addressed the proceedings in a brief statement on a drizzly tarmac before he boarded his plane back to New Jersey., characterizing the case as a “persecution” designed to hurt his 2024 presidential campaign.

“We can’t let this happen in America,” Trump said.

Trump pleaded not guilty to four federal counts, including conspiracy to defraud the United States. He is accused of brazenly conspiring with allies to spread falsehoods and concoct schemes intended to overturn his election loss to President Joe Biden.

TRUMP LEAVES COURTHOUSE

Trump has left Washington’s federal courthouse after pleading not guilty to federal conspiracy charges alleging a plot to overturn the 2020 election in a bid to cling to power.

Trump entered his plea in the same courthouse where more than 1,000 of his supporters have been charged with federal crimes for their participation in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol that halted the certification of Joe Biden’s victory.

He was released on conditions, including that he he not have contact about the case with any witnesses unless attorneys are present.

“If you fail to comply with any conditions of your release, a warrant may be issued for your arrest,” Magistrate Judge Moxila A. Upadhyaya told him.

Trump’s face appeared set and serious, and he occasionally wrote on a paper in front of him throughout the hearing. As it drew to a close, Trump thanked the judge before leaving the courtroom through the same door that he entered.

Special counsel Jack Smith sat in the front row of the courtroom gallery, about 15 feet from Trump’s seat at the defense table with his lawyers. They didn’t appear to make any obvious eye contact before or during the hearing.

The complications of Trump not being allowed to discuss the case with potential witnesses was underscored by the entourage that traveled with him to Washington on Thursday. He was accompanied by top campaign aides including Boris Epshteyn, a longtime adviser who was part of the efforts to overturn the election results by organizing fake electors.

NEXT HEARING SET

The next hearing in Trump’s 2020 election conspiracy case has been set for Aug. 28, just days after the first debate in the 2024 Republican presidential primary.

The hearing set for later this month will be the first one in front of U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who will oversee the case brought by special counsel Jack Smith. Trump appeared before a magistrate judge for his first court appearance Thursday, where he pleaded not guilty.

Magistrate Judge Moxila Upadhyaya said Chutkan is willing to waive Trump’s appearance at the hearing so he doesn’t have to attend. The judge is expected to set a trial date then.

An Aug. 28 hearing would fall just five days after the first Republican presidential debate will be held in Milwaukee. Although Trump has repeatedly suggested he will not participate — saying he sees little benefit in appearing alongside lower-polling rivals — he has not explicitly ruled it out.

NOT GUILTY PLEA

Trump pleaded not guilty Thursday to federal conspiracy charges accusing him of plotting to subvert the will of voters and overturn his 2020 election loss.

Before entering his plea, Trump answered basic questions from the judge and was informed of the charges against him and the potential penalties. The most serious charges call for up to 20 years in prison.

Trump appeared before a magistrate judge in Washington’s federal courthouse two days after being indicted on four felony counts by special counsel Jack Smith. The charges mark the first effort to try to hold Trump criminally responsible for his efforts to block the transfer of power on Jan. 6, 2021.

Trump, the 2024 Republican presidential primary front-runner, is facing charges including conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruct Congress’ certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s victory.

It comes nearly two months after Trump pleaded not guilty to dozens of federal felony counts accusing him of hoarding classified documents and thwarting government efforts to retrieve them.

Trump says he is innocent, and his legal team has characterized the latest case as an attack on his right to free speech.

People gather, including supporters of Former President Donald Trump, near the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Federal Courthouse, Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023, in Washington. (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

TRUMP IN COURT

Trump, wearing a suit and red tie, sat at the defense table and chatted with his lawyers while waiting for the hearing to begin in Washington’s federal courthouse. At one point, he scribbled notes on a piece of paper in front of him and handed it to his lawyer.

He’s charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and other crimes.

Special counsel Jack Smith sat in the courtroom’s front row.

OFFICERS WHO DEFENDED CAPITOL AT TRUMP HEARING

Three police officers who defended the U.S. Capitol against violent rioters on Jan. 6, 2021, were in the courtroom for Trump’s hearing.

Daniel Hodges and Aquilino Gonnell were injured, and Harry Dunn was chased by violent protesters. Hodges was a District of Columbia police officer, and Dunn and Gonnell worked for the U.S. Capitol police, tasked with protecting the Capitol and the lawmakers inside.

“All I have wanted from day one is accountability,” Dunn said in a statement released by his lawyer after he went into the federal court in Washington, D.C.

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