Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to trying to subvert the 2020 election results in Georgia and has waived a court appearance that would have been broadcast live on TV.
‘I do hereby freely and voluntarily waive my right to be present at my arraignment on the Indictment and my right to have it read to me in open courtroom ,’ he said in a filing submitted by his local attorney.
The former president put his famous signature at the bottom of the not guilty plea. But he otherwise orchestrated to escape the attention by declining to take part in the event in person.
The move comes a week after he posed for his historic mugshot, which became a global media event – and one he is trying to turn to his benefit.
Trump’s campaign was continuing to market the glaring image on Thursday, pursuing contributions and offering to send signed posters.
‘President Trump’s unmistakable mugshot taken as an innocent man has become a symbol of an UNBREAKABLE MOVEMENT triumphing over tyranny!’ according to the fundraising solicitation.
The move comes two days after ‘Kraken’ lawyer Sidney Powell, who promoted Trump’s election fraud claims in press conference and legal filings, made her own not guilty plea.
Trump allies Trevian Kutti and Ray Smith also waived their formal arraignments and registered not guilty pleas this week. They were among the 19 people indicted this month on conspiracy racketeering charges.
Smith is a lawyer who represented Trump in election law challenges in the state. Kutti is accused of harassing an election worker.
‘President Trump continues to fight against the partisan, un-American tactics of Fani Willis, which are wrongfully designed to deprive President Trump of his Federal and Georgia State Constitutional rights, including, among others, the bedrock right to Due Process,’ according to a statement by a campaign spokesman.
Trump’s plea comes amongst skepticism about how the case will continue, with multiple defendants seeking to ‘sever’ their cases from the overall prosecution, which Fulton County D.A. has produced under a state RICO statute.
Taking a cue from co-defendants, Trump filed a motion to sever his case from the others Thursday.
Powell is among those seeking to distinguish her own case and get a speedy trial.
The Georgia case is just one of the legal struggles Trump is faced with. On Monday, a federal judge in Washington, D.C. set a March 4 trial date for the case put forth by special counsel Jack Smith through his January 6th probe.
On Wednesday, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled that former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani had defamed two Georgia election workers, moving the case toward a trial over punitive damages. Giuliani is also among those charged by DA Fani Willis in Georgia.
Trump’s decision to enter his plea through a filing avoids the high-profile media event that encircled his mug shot.
For that event, which Trump hyped in advance and scheduled for the day after the first Republican presidential debate, he was processed in an Atlanta jail, then spoke to reporters before flying out of town on his private modified Boeing 757.
He went on a social media tear Wednesday, hitting back at adversaries including his former Attorney General Bill Barr, who while in office echoed some of Trump’s concerns about risks of mail-in ballots, but then testified to the House January 6 committee that many of the accusations of massive election fraud by Trump’s legal team were ‘bull****’ as well as ‘bogus’ and ‘absolute rubbish.‘
In the hours before the plea, he reposted one article labeling his prosecution in Georgia a ‘political hit job.’
‘Does anybody really believe I lost Georgia? Because I don’t,’ Trump said, doubling down on what the indictment said were false statements by him and his alleged co-conspirators to create the delusion of a stolen election in order to change the outcome of the vote.
He said he ‘shockingly lost Georgia’ despite winning nearby Alabama and South Carolina in ‘record-setting landslides’.
It is common for defendants to plead not guilty when charged. It is a move that essentially challenges the government to make its case, and sets in motion a process that includes the review of discovery materials.
Trump has also pleaded not guilty in the January 6 election overturn case in Washington, as well as in a case in Manhattan, where he is accused of breaking tax laws through hush payments to former porn star Stormy Daniels.
Giuliani and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows are scheduled to enter their pleas on Sept. 6. Meadows has been trying to get his own case moved to federal court, and his team has argued his actions were done under the color of his office.
The filing is titled ‘Entry of President Trump’s plea …’ and it begins, ‘I, President Donald Trump.’
Does Trump's Mugshot Make Ya Want To Vote TRUMP? I Asked, The Responses Are ???? pic.twitter.com/5V13Xbu9ws
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) August 31, 2023
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— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) September 1, 2023
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— The TRUMP PAGE ???????? (@MichaelDeLauzon) September 1, 2023