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 court’,’ Trump said in a filing submitted by his local attorney.
Trump put his famous signature at the bottom of the not-guilty plea. But he otherwise managed to avoid the spotlight 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 Trump is trying to turn to his advantage.
Trump’s campaign was continuing to market the scowling image on Thursday, seeking 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.
Former President Donald Trump entered a not guilty plea in Fulton County, Georgia through a legal filing. It comes after he appeared in-person to have his mugshot taken. Trump is charged along with 18 other defendants in a grand jury indictment accusing them of a racketeering conspiracy surrounding his effort to overturn the election results there
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 entered 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.
Trump’s plea comes amid uncertainty about how the case will proceed, with multiple defendants seeking to ‘sever’ their cases from the overall prosecution, which Fulton County D.A. has brought under a state RICO statute.
Powell is among those seeking to separate her own case and get a speedy trial.
The Georgia case is just one of the legal woes Trump is facing. On Monday, a federal judge in Washington, D.C. set a March 4 trial date for the case brought by special counsel Jack Smith through his January 6th probe.
Trump submitted the not-guilty plea with his famous signature
Trump’s web of legal troubles continue to intersect. He had a key hearing in a Washington, D.C. court. His deposition relating to a New York civil fraud case was unsealed Wednesday
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 surrounded his mug shot.
For that event, which Trump hyped in advance and scheduled for the day after the first Republican presidential debate, Trump 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, lashing out at foes 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 claims of massive election fraud by Trump’s legal team were ‘bull****’ as well as ‘bogus’ and ‘absolute rubbish.’
Trump went on a social media tear in the hours before the plea, reposting one article calling 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 Trump and his alleged co-conspiracies to create the illusion 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 charges. 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.