Special counsel Jack Smith is present for Trump’s first appearance in election subversion case
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Special counsel Jack Smith is present for Trump’s first appearance in election subversion case

Aug 29, 2023

By Aditi Sangal, Matt Meyer, Maureen Chowdhury, Elise Hammond and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Our live coverage has ended. Scroll through the posts below to read about today's arraignment or click here for the latest US political news.

From CNN's Tierney Sneed and Hannah Rabinowitz

Special counsel Jack Smith is present in the courtroom for former President Donald Trump’s first appearance Thursday in the election subversion case.

Smith also attended Trump’s first appearance in the case the special prosecutor brought against the former president for allegedly mishandling classified documents.

Some background: Smith, in remarks when the indictment was unsealed on Tuesday, described the January 6 insurrection as an “unprecedented assault on the seat of American democracy" that was “fueled by lies” told by the former president. He encouraged all Americans to read the full document.

Smith's move to bring charges will test whether the criminal justice system can be used to hold Trump to account for his post-election conduct after he was acquitted in his impeachment trial related to his actions that day.

From CNN's Tierney Sneed, Holmes Lybrand, Hannah Rabinowitz and Katelyn Polantz

Former President Donald Trump has arrived at the US District Court in Washington, DC, to make his initial appearance in federal court after being indicted in special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election leading up to the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.

Trump will be placed in the custody of the US Marshals Service and he will be processed as part of the proceedings.

When he was placed into custody for the first appearance in the classified documents prosecution last month in Miami’s federal courthouse, he submitted to fingerprints and provided other information to court officials, though he was not required to take a mugshot.

The processing for the DC appearance will likely be more streamlined, given that Trump is now already in the federal system.

Part of the purpose of Thursday’s hearing is for the magistrate judge, Judge Moxila Upadhyaya, to approve of the bail conditions that will allow him to be released from federal custody up until trial.

Trump is expected to plead not guilty. He has been charged with four counts:

From CNN's Hannah Rabinowitz

Chief Judge James Boasberg has spent part of this historic day meeting and greeting reporters and members of the public at the E. Barrett Prettyman federal courthouse ahead of former President Donald Trump's arraignment.

Boasberg assumed the chief judge role — one of the most influential judgeships in the nation’s capital – just a few months ago.

As the judge who oversees the grand jury, he has played a key role in deciding issues in the investigation that culminated in the criminal case against the former president.

Read more about the role of the chief judge here.

From CNN's Holmes Lybrand

The US Secret Service has made several security sweeps inside the federal courthouse, including on the second floor, where Donald Trump will appear before a magistrate judge for his initial appearance on Thursday.

The probation office and pretrial services — where the former president will likely be processed — are also on the second floor.

Court security has cleared the atrium on the courthouse's first floor, all but guaranteeing Trump will only be seen in the courtroom and not walking through the building itself.

Court security and Secret Service members have been stationed around the courtroom since earlier this afternoon.

Trump has landed at Reagan National Airport, and a motorcade has departed special counsel Jack Smith’s office in Washington, DC.

From CNN staff

Donald Trump's plane has landed at Reagan National Airport in Virginia and the former president will soon head to a Washington, DC, federal courthouse to be arraigned on charges related to efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

After arriving at the courthouse, Trump will be placed under arrest, processed and likely arraigned in court.

From CNN's Kyung Lah

Former Vice President Mike Pence’s campaign is selling T-shirts and hats branded with "Too Honest," referencing a phrase Donald Trump allegedly uttered to Pence when he refused to go along with the former president’s request to reject electoral votes and change the outcome of the 2020 election.

According to the federal indictment, in one conversation on January 1, 2021, Trump told Pence he was “too honest” when the vice president said he lacked the authority to change the results.

After Trump was indicted earlier this week, Pence said that "anyone who puts themselves over the Constitution should never be president," and added that Trump "was surrounded by a group of crackpot lawyers who kept telling him what his itching ears wanted to hear."

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

As he headed to Washington, DC, for a court appearance, former President Trump claimed both the venue and judge overseeing the latest case against him are "UNFAIR."

Trump is expected to publicly address the new charges, stemming from his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, after he leaves court Thursday, according to a person familiar with the schedule.

The former president is set to appear before a Magistrate Judge Moxila Upadhyaya this afternoon. Handling the case going forward will be federal District Judge Tanya Chutkan.

Chutkan has repeatedly spoken out in very strong terms against the efforts to overturn the election and disrupt the transfer of power. Though she was randomly appointed to oversee the special counsel’s criminal case, she is no stranger to January 6, 2021, litigation.

In November 2021, Chutkan forcefully rejected Trump’s attempts to block the House select committee investigating January 6 from accessing more than 700 pages of records from his White House.

Earlier, Trump posted on Truth Social: “I NEED ONE MORE INDICTMENT TO ENSURE MY ELECTION!”

CNN's Hannah Rabinowitz and Marshall Cohen contributed reporting to this post.

From CNN staff

Former President Donald Trump's plane has departed Newark, New Jersey, and he is headed to Washington, DC, to be arraigned on charges related to efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

As part of special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation, Trump was charged on Tuesday with: conspiracy to defraud the United States; conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding; and conspiracy against rights.

What to expect later today: After arriving at the US District Court this afternoon, Trump will be placed under arrest, processed and likely arraigned in court.

Because Trump has already been processed in the federal system for his arrest in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case, his booking today is likely to be streamlined.

Trump is expected to plead not guilty and to be released pending trial.

This is Trump's third arrest in four months. Smith charged Trump in the classified documents probe in June, and a Manhattan grand jury charged the former president for business fraud in March. Trump, who is running for president in 2024, pleaded not guilty in both cases.

Following the latest indictment of Donald Trump, the former president's allies immediately began defending him and repeatedly said that he is facing a "two-tiered justice system" — a claim CNN's chief legal analyst Laura Coates said is disingenuous.

"It's an interesting talking point — I have been a prosecutor. I will be the first to tell you, yes, when it comes to the justice system, there's a divide between the haves and have-nots," Coates noted, however; she went on to say that you can walk into any courthouse in America and see that those with extraordinary means have a very different experience than those who do not.

She added, "I think it's really disingenuous to have a talking point that suggests that this is a continuation of what the rest of the nation's been talking about" with regard to injustices within the justice system.

Coates then acknowledged that despite the claim not aligning with the reality of what most people face in the country, it is still a valuable talking point and "it has legs."

Some background: Read more about the role of the chief judge here.What to expect later today