After the unprecedented charges against Donald Trump in connection with electoral interference and the attack on the Capitol, the ex-president has to appear in court for the first time. The date for the formal presentation of the allegations against Trump is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. local time (10:00 p.m. CEST) in a court in Washington. At first it was not finally clear whether the Republican presidential candidate would arrive in person or only connect via video. Trump is the first ex-president in US history who has to answer to a court for an alleged crime – and in several cases.
The series of charges
The new indictment is the second federal indictment against Trump, and the third overall. In recent months, Trump has been indicted on two other counts in connection with paying hush money to a porn star and unlawfully withholding classified government documents after leaving office.
Now he is confronted with the most serious allegations to date. The 45-page new indictment charges Trump with four formal charges, including conspiracy against the United States. For the first time, it is about alleged crimes during his tenure in the White House. If convicted, the 77-year-old could face decades in prison. According to experts, a conviction would not legally prevent Trump from running in the 2024 election – especially since it is highly questionable whether a final judgment will be available by then.
The court date
At the court date this Thursday, Trump will formally open the allegations against him. Should he appear in person, he first has to go through a registration procedure, as was the case with his other two court appearances. For example, fingerprints are taken. At these appointments, classic police photos are usually taken of the accused, and handcuffs are often also put on. Trump’s courts had previously dispensed with both of these, and that should be the case this time too.
In court, Trump should then have the opportunity to comment on the allegations against him. He is expected to plead not guilty through his attorneys, as in the other two cases. Because Trump rejects all allegations and sees any legal action against him as an attempt by his opponents to prevent him from moving back into the White House. According to polls, he is far ahead in the field of Republican presidential candidates.
Special Counsel Jack Smith announced the unprecedented charges against the former President on Tuesday. Trump is accused of orchestrating a conspiracy to defraud the United States, disenfranchise voters and obstruct an official process. In the indictment, Trump is accused of spreading false claims about the election despite knowing better, and of using people in the Justice Department to do so. “Despite his defeat, the accused was determined to remain in power,” it said. Trump knew his fraud allegations were untrue.
Trump led a conspiracy against the United States. He had teamed up with six accomplices who are not mentioned by name in the indictment. They are four lawyers, one member of the judiciary and one political adviser.
Trump’s anti-election campaign
Trump lost the 2020 presidential election to Democrat Joe Biden. He never admitted his defeat, however, and has since spread false claims that he was robbed of a victory through electoral fraud. At the time, Trump and those around him tried various ways to subsequently overturn the result.
The campaign against the outcome of the election finally culminated in an unprecedented outbreak of violence on January 6, 2021: On that day, Trump supporters stormed the seat of the US Congress, where Biden’s election victory was to be formally confirmed at the time. Trump had once again goaded his supporters in a speech shortly before, claiming that he had been deprived of a victory by massive election fraud. Several people died in the riots.