Donald Trump has appeared at a federal courthouse in Washington to face arraignment over allegations of obstructing the 2020 presidential election and tampering with voting rights, purportedly affecting millions of Americans.
Trump’s motorcade entered an underground garage, flanked by both supporters and protesters segregated by police barricades. The courthouse’s proximity to the US Capitol, besieged by his followers during the January 6, 2021, assault, served as a potent reminder of the chaotic events.
The former president’s arraignment, slated for Thursday, follows processing by the US Marshals Service, which included fingerprinting and data collection. His recognisable status exempted him from having a mugshot taken, considering the ample existing photographs.
Expected to make his inaugural appearance before a federal judge for this case, Trump is anticipated to submit a plea, likely maintaining his freedom during the ongoing prosecution.
This constitutes Trump’s third criminal case, and a decision by an Atlanta district attorney on pursuing a fourth indictment connected to the Georgia election interference inquiry is imminent.
Barricades and yellow tape cordoned off the courthouse perimeter, alongside snow ploughs positioned nearby. This scene underscored the profound political divisions surrounding Trump.
Special Counsel John “Jack” Smith’s office successfully obtained a four-count indictment alleging Trump’s involvement in defrauding the US through election interference, obstructing Congress’ election result certification, and conspiring against voting rights.
Smith’s office also levelled charges against Trump in Florida for mishandling state secrets post-presidency, along with an alleged conspiracy to obstruct government attempts to recover classified documents from the Mar-a-Lago resort. Trump pleaded not guilty.
In New York, Trump faces indictment for falsifying business records tied to pre-2016 election hush payments. Trials in New York and Florida are slated for March and May, respectively.
Simultaneously, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in Georgia is investigating Trump’s endeavours to challenge President Joe Biden’s election victory.
Despite the charges, Article II of the Constitution doesn’t explicitly prohibit Trump from seeking office. However, the 14th Amendment restricts holding office for those engaged in insurrection or rebellion. Advocacy groups may initiate legal action to extend this prohibition to Trump or exert pressure on state governments to disqualify him from the ballot.