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Trump pleads not guilty in 2020 election arraignment: What happens next?

The former president appeared in federal court in Washington, D.C., after being indicted in special counsel Jack Smith's 2020 election and Jan. 6 probe.

What to know

  • Former President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from special counsel Jack Smith's investigation into 2020 election interference.
  • He was arraigned in a federal courthouse in Washington by a magistrate judge shortly after 4:20 p.m. ET. The proceeding lasted about 30 minutes.
  • He faces four counts, including conspiracy to defraud the United States and conspiracy to violate civil rights.
12d ago / 11:00 PM UTC

Trump largely stays silent during his arraignments. But his eyes are watching.

About two months ago, I spent hours, stripped of my computer and phone, waiting in the jury assembly room of the primary federal courthouse in Miami. But I wasn’t a juror. I was a member of the press corps hoping for a seat at Trump’s first, but not last, federal arraignment.

And once I got in, the most memorable moment was not his plea or even seeing the former president in person for the first time ever. It was watching him turn around before walking out through a non-public exit and with his lips pursed and eyes narrowed and slowly scan the gallery of media onlookers, federal marshals, and court personnel gathered to bear witness.

It was, in a word, chilling.

That memory was not at the forefront of my mind tonight until I started seeing reports of Trump’s arraignment before federal magistrate judge Moxila Upadhyaya in a packed Washington courtroom today. As Glenn Thrush of The New York Times noted in his pool report today, Trump again “lingered for a few moments as he was leaving and looked over his shoulder to survey the audience.”

What are we to make of Trump’s repeated staring at courtroom observers? One guess is that beyond the bombastic flyers accusing Biden of his own crimes, the all-caps social media posts and defiant interviews, Trump understands the gravity of the moment — and can’t help but look into the faces of those gathered to bear witness. Just maybe.

12d ago / 10:50 PM UTC

Jim Jordan uses charges to continue attacks on disinfo experts

Rep. Dan Goldman, D-N.Y., has accused House Republicans of playing the role of Trump’s personal defense attorneys.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, has lived up to the claim.

After Trump’s indictment Tuesday, Jordan retweeted a conservative writer falsely accusing the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency of interfering in the 2020 election.

Then, as the world awaited Trump’s arraignment today, the Jordan-led House Judiciary Committee tweeted out claims that an independent watchdog that tracks disinformation and hate speech online — the Center for Countering Digital Hate — had participated in a government censorship campaign during the 2020 election.

Both CISA and the CCDH were key in dispelling Trump’s false claims of election fraud after his loss to Joe Biden. And undermining their legitimacy now appears to be a Republican priority. (You can read a little more about the right’s crusade against disinfo experts here and here.)

In Trump’s latest indictment, prosecutors try to show that he knew his claims of election fraud were false. As one piece of evidence, the indictment notes that senior officials at CISA — including former Director Chris Krebs, whom Trump ultimately fired — made multiple public declarations that the election results could be trusted. 

With Jordan’s latest attack on CCDH, hopefully you’re seeing how the right’s fight against disinfo experts serves Trump’s legal defense. By painting them as decidedly anti-conservative — or, at minimum, noncredible — the GOP is essentially offering excuses for Trump’s behavior.

12d ago / 10:33 PM UTC

Mike Pence is trying to peddle merch off the indictment

The latest sign that Mike Pence has decided he’s willing to take a stand against his former boss: his campaign is apparently selling “too honest” merchandise in the wake of Trump’s latest indictment.

The phrase is a reference to an allegation in the 2020 election indictment that when Pence told Trump he lacked the authority to reject electoral votes under the Constitution, Trump responded, “You’re too honest.”

But given the GOP base’s comfort with Trump’s mendacity, I’m going to go ahead and wager that this slogan isn’t going to lead to Pence skyrocketing in the polls.

12d ago / 10:12 PM UTC

Harry Dunn: Trump has shown 'no remorse'

Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, who responded to the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, said watching Trump's arraignment today from an overflow courtroom was "emotional" and "intense."

"At one point, I looked down and my watch was going off, Dunn told Rachel Maddow. "I looked at my heart rate — it was over 100 beats per minute."

"He's doubled down," he added, referring to Trump. "He's shown no remorse. I have no words for him. I'll let the special counsel do the talking and hopefully a guilty verdict is returned."

12d ago / 10:03 PM UTC

Yes, this Trump trial can happen first

As Andrew Weissmann noted on the air, one of the things that stood out from Trump’s latest arraignment was the focus on the trial date. It seems like the Washington court is prepared to move the case forward. 

With that, it’s worth remembering that trials don’t need to take place in the order in which the charges come down.

Trump’s hush money trial on state charges in New York is currently set for March, and his federal classified documents trial is scheduled for May. One or both of those could change, but today’s case doesn’t need to wait on them to play out just because it’s the most recent indictment.

In fact, it could be the first trial.

12d ago / 10:00 PM UTC

Smith avoids a Trump staredown pt. II

In Trump's first federal arraignment in Miami in June, Smith notably stared down the former president for most of the proceeding. Perhaps aware of these reports, Smith apparently avoided a reprise today in Washington.

"As Mr. Trump walked in," NBC News' Ken Dilanian told Rachel Maddow moments ago, "I noticed that Jack Smith did not look in his direction. ... He probably was the only person not looking at Mr. Trump at that time.

Apparently, Trump is getting quite comfortable being arraigned.

"I've been in the courtroom for all three of these arraignments now and I'm struck by in a strange way how much more comfortable Donald Trump is getting in these scenarios."

12d ago / 9:50 PM UTC

Many Republicans would turn on Trump if convicted: Reuters poll

According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted this week, 45% of Republicans surveyed said they would not vote for Trump for president next year if he were “convicted of a felony crime by a jury,” while over 35% said they still would.

That’s a remarkable finding — and one that should probably be taken with a big ol' grain of salt. 

With his first two indictments under his belt, Trump commanded a majority of likely Republican primary voters in a recent New York Times/Siena College poll, and his lead over his closest rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, has only grown since the first indictment.

In general, since his political rise, Trump has proven to have a tight grip on the party base that doesn’t seem to loosen with any particular crisis and controversy. Is it possible that a plurality of Republican voters really draw the line at a conviction, which is categorically different than a charge? That’s possible. But when so much of the party doesn’t believe that the criminal justice system is fair, it’s hard to see that 45%t figure not dropping in the event that it actually did happen.

In fact, the Reuters poll itself offers clues as to why that seems likely:

Seventy-five percent of Republican respondents agreed with a statement that the charges against Trump were “politically motivated.” Twenty percent disagreed and the rest said they didn’t know.

About two-thirds of Republicans — 66% — described as “not believable” the accusation in Trump’s latest indictment that he solicited election fraud. Twenty-nine percent said it was believable and the rest were not sure.

If the overwhelming majority of Republicans don’t trust in the claims against Trump or the system making those claims, why would they defect from him en masse if he were convicted?

It’s possible that some respondents didn’t think through the question carefully and were actually articulating a reluctance to vote for him in the primaries post-conviction because he’d be considered less electable. But if it were Trump vs. Biden on the November 2024 ballot, history suggests that a big chunk of those who might be unhappy about a conviction would stay by Trump.

12d ago / 9:46 PM UTC

Trump, an ex-president, was ordered not to tamper with the jury

Among the instructions reportedly given to Trump at his arraignment was not to tamper with the jury in this case. You’d think that should go without saying, but with Trump it might be worth making crystal clear. 

It calls to mind the civil case he lost this year to writer E. Jean Carroll, where the judge took the rare step of making the jury anonymous. Indeed, Judge Lewis Kaplan in the Southern District of New York observed that such juries had previously been used in cases when “the risk of tampering with or violent retaliation against jurors by criminal defendants or their confederates was palpable, most often in terrorism and organized crime cases.”

In his March opinion, Kaplan rounded up some of Trump’s anti-social conduct to date, including, among other things, his actions leading to the Jan. 6 insurrection and his criticism of the special grand jury foreperson in Georgia. 

With Trump effectively trashing his prospective jury pool in Washington before he even stepped foot in court, it’s a reasonable instruction to give.

12d ago / 9:45 PM UTC

Courtroom sketch shows Trump addressing the judge

Former U.S. President Donald Trump is arraigned at the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse on Aug. 3, 2023.
Former President Donald Trump was arraigned at the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse in Washington today.Bill Hennessy
13d ago / 9:32 PM UTC

Two unusual moments from this arraignment

Two things stood out to me as unusual. It is not usual for the magistrate judge to have talked to the assigned district judge to find out what the next date is. What is unusual is to be so focused on the trial date.

That to me is, for people who are thinking that she is not focused on whether this can go to trial before the general election, that is the issue. And it’s also clear that Trump attorney John Lauro knows that and that is the reason he started saying," I need to know about the volume of discovery." Because it’s going to be a little eye-popping. There is going to be a huge amount and the government is going to have to deal with that issue, and that is going to be the fight.

The second thing is that the standard condition that a judge usually emphasizes is that you have to show up at each court appearance. That is the most important thing. That is what bail is for — so that you’ll show up in court. 

But I heard that the standard condition and most important thing is "do not commit a crime’’ followed up by "do not tamper with a juror." My first reaction was, I was a prosecutor for 21 years and I was a defense lawyer for five years, and I’ve never heard that.

From Andrew Weissmann on MSNBC moments ago. His remarks have been slightly edited for length and clarity.

13d ago / 9:15 PM UTC

Trump speaks at airport: 'Sad day for America'

Trump spoke a few minutes ago from Reagan National Airport before boarding his plane to head back to New Jersey. In an odd but Trumpian moment, the former president attacked Washington, claiming he saw "filth and decay" as he was driving through it today.

"This is a sad day for America and it was also very sad driving through Washington, D.C., and seeing the filth and decay," he told Fox News. "This is not the place I left."

He did not take questions — nor did he provide any true defense of his alleged actions outlined in the 2020 election interference indictment.

13d ago / 9:10 PM UTC

Trump warned against talking about his case — again

Remember in the classified documents case when Trump was ordered not to talk about the case with Walt Nauta, his aide and co-defendant? It seemed like it would be, let’s say, difficult to enforce, given that they’re together all the time and it’s an order not to talk with someone he’s accused of being in an obstructive conspiracy with.

Well, Trump likewise today received such an order not to discuss the 2020 election case with any known witnesses (except through counsel). It’s an order that could be routine for most defendants. For Trump, it effectively expands his opportunities to run afoul of court orders.

But unless he’s dumb enough to talk about the case with someone who’d “rat” him out, the question might be, as in the classified documents case, how such a violation would be proved.

13d ago / 9:05 PM UTC

The most important evidence in this case

Let’s remember what the most important evidence in the case is. Donald Trump knows all of the most important damning evidence in the case because he said it. There is no mystery for Donald Trump in this discovery. Every bad thing that could get him convicted came out of his mouth. That’s not something that he will have to discover when he reads Mike Pence’s notes.

From Lawrence O’Donnell’s appearance on MSNBC moments ago. These comments have been slightly edited for length and clarity.

13d ago / 9:01 PM UTC

Trump’s attempts to delay trial are part of a bigger strategy

Not surprisingly, after requesting the latest possible date for the next hearing in this case, Trump lead lawyer John Lauro suggested the defense will move to postpone trial proceedings. Lauro cited the “massive amount” of evidence being handed over to them by the prosecution. But as Katie Phang pointed out for MSNBC Daily, endless litigation is a deliberate tactic on Trump’s part: 

Because Trump is a gold medal crimer and does not cease in his persistent criming, he is actually creating heightened criminal exposure for himself while simultaneously creating credible support for his arguments for a delay in proceeding to trial. For law-abiding citizens, it doesn’t make sense to reward an alleged criminal with the benefits of delay, but unfortunately, that is sometimes how trial scheduling works: the more, the messier — and, as Trump and his legal teams undoubtedly hope, the better.

13d ago / 8:55 PM UTC

Trump's third arraignment wraps as a fourth indictment looms

Trump exited the courtroom about 10 minutes ago when the arraignment came to a close. It likely won't be the last time he's appearing after being an indictment. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said earlier this week that her probe into election interference in Georgia is wrapping up.

Trump is set to make a short statement from Reagan National Airport shortly before he flies back to his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

13d ago / 8:54 PM UTC

Trump is given conditions of release

Judge Upadhyaya released Trump on the condition that he not communicate with witnesses in the case except through, or in the presence of, counsel.

She also reminded Trump that it is a crime to try and influence a juror.

13d ago / 8:48 PM UTC

Remember: Trump (or anyone) wouldn’t get the maximum

The magistrate judge reportedly read the statutory maximum penalties that Trump faces under the crimes charged — which, if you add them all up, would amount to several decades in prison.

In addition to Trump not likely being able to complete such a sentence if convicted — he mentioned in court today that he’s 77 — looking to the statutory maximums is generally a bad guide for determining the actual sentence.

As I noted in connection with Trump’s classified documents case, judges look at a number of factors, including a complex formula called the sentencing guidelines, when determining how much time to give a defendant. While it’s too soon to know what such a calculation would be for Trump if he’s convicted, it’s safe to say that — while he faces serious time — it’s not going to be the statutory maximums all added up.

13d ago / 8:44 PM UTC

Joy Reid: Trump's arraignment 'isn't solemn for me'

13d ago / 8:39 PM UTC

Here's another Trump court date to your calendar

Judge Upadhyaya set the first hearing before the trial judge overseeing the case, Judge Chutkan, for Aug. 28 at 10 a.m. ET, NBC News reported.

Smith's team wanted the hearing to take place Aug. 21, but Team Trump — whose legal strategy has been delay, delay, delay — requested Aug. 28.

13d ago / 8:37 PM UTC

This was a ‘conspiracy to defraud’ every voter in America

The very first alleged crime listed at the top of the indictment was a “conspiracy to defraud the United States," which means it was a conspiracy to defraud every voter in America, every resident of the country even if you didn’t have the right to vote because the country is supposed to be governed by the decisions of the voters.

This was an alleged conspiracy to defraud the United States of the voters’ decisions. You have a right to be on the winning side of the vote when you are on the winning side of the vote. And you have a right, as I have for most of my life, to be on the losing side.

From Lawrence O’Donnell's appearance on MSNBC moments ago. These comments have been slightly edited for length and clarity.

13d ago / 8:26 PM UTC

Trump pleads not guilty (no surprise there)

Trump, standing and facing the judge, pleads "not guilty" to all charges.

13d ago / 8:19 PM UTC

The judge has arrived, 15 minutes past the scheduled start time

The magistrate judge, Moxila Upadhyaya, really knows how to build anticipation. She arrived to the courtroom 15 minutes past the scheduled hearing time of 4 p.m. ET.

“Good afternoon, Mr. Trump,” she said after lawyers on both sides introduced themselves, according to NBC News.

13d ago / 8:15 PM UTC

Trump shouldn't hold his breath for a venue change

Trump and one of his lawyers have said they want to move his latest charges out of Washington. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., chimed in to complain that a conviction in the nation's capital would be "not legitimate."

But if they don’t know this already, they’ll be disappointed to see that, as I explain here, Jan. 6 defendants have roundly lost attempts to escape prosecution in Washington. Among other things, one such ruling noted that Washington courts have “already rejected the argument that D.C. residents are incapable of fairness in highly politically-charged criminal prosecutions.”

Though Trump’s trial would be more “politically-charged” than most, that won’t be reason enough to move his case.

13d ago / 8:10 PM UTC

What reporters are seeing inside the courtroom

As of 4:01 p.m. ET, Judge Upadhyaya had not yet arrived in the courtroom.

Meanwhile, according to NBC News, the prosecutors and the defense are sitting across the room facing each other (if Smith wants to stare down Trump as he did during the last arraignment, this seating configuration should make it easy for him).

13d ago / 7:56 PM UTC

It's happening: Trump and Smith arrive to the courtroom

Trump entered the courtroom at 3:51 p.m. ET, according to NBC News, a few minutes after Smith, who is sitting behind his prosecutors.

Also present, in the court’s overflow room, are three officers who responded to the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6: Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges and former Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell. Last week, Dunn spoke to The ReidOut Blog’s Ja’han Jones about what a Trump indictment signifies to him.

13d ago / 7:53 PM UTC

3 things I'll be looking for during this arraignment

There may be standard conditions of release that are read to the former president with respect to who he can contact, and locations he can go to and not go to. And there are standard rules in D.C. with respect to things that you could say that could prejudice a potential juror. So I’ll be listening for whether the magistrate does that.

The other thing that could happen that is standard practice in the D.C. U.S. attorney’s office, in other words in that courthouse, for the government to turn over discovery, at the time of arraignment, so I wouldn’t be surprised to hear something from the government about the status of discovery. We did hear something like that in the classified documents case. 

And then finally we should be listening to whether the magistrate advises the parties as to the date on which the assigned judge in the case, Judge Tanya Chutkan, wants the parties to appear in front of her. And I wouldn’t be surprised if that was a relatively short date, but that’s a way for the court, the actual assigned judge, to notify people when she wants to see them.

13d ago / 7:44 PM UTC

No, Jack Smith doesn’t have to prove Trump’s state of mind

Even before this week’s indictment, many were wondering how Jack Smith and his team could prove that Trump knew he’d lost the 2020 election.

As soon as the indictment was unsealed, Trump lawyer John Lauro told Fox News, “I would like them to try to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Donald Trump believed that these allegations were false.”

In fact, as Reason’s Orin Kerr and others have pointed out, there’s already evidence in the public record of Trump acknowledging he lost, and Smith may have more evidence that’s not in the indictment. 

But regardless, Smith doesn’t need to prove what Trump knew, as legal experts Norm Eisen, Joshua Kolb and Fred Wertheimer explained for MSNBC Daily yesterday:

Smith also avoids the most complicated aspects of having to prove Trump’s state of mind. The indictment alleges, and provides voluminous evidence suggesting, that Trump knew he lost the election. However, none of the statutes charged require a jury to determine this specifically.

Instead, the requisite proof of criminal intent can be established simply by proving some, or all, of the following charges: Trump deceitfully attempted to get states to overturn the election results, the electoral certificates Trump utilized in his scheme were false, Trump attempted to leverage the Justice Department to use deceit to replace legitimate votes with Trump votes, Pence did not have the authority to override the electoral votes or pause the count of electors on Jan. 6, Trump exploited the violence and chaos at the Capitol on that day toward these ends, or that Trump intended to prevent the electoral votes of the American people from being counted correctly.

Read more from the authors below:

13d ago / 7:39 PM UTC

What we know about today's judge

The judge presiding over today's arraignment is not the same one who has been assigned to oversee the case.

Moxila Upadhyaya is the federal magistrate judge who will handle today's proceedings before handing off to U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, the federal trial judge assigned to the case.

So what do we know about Chutkan, a Barack Obama appointee? As Jordan Rubin wrote for Deadline: Legal Blog earlier this week:

For one thing, she has experience with Jan. 6 cases.

NBC News’ Ryan Reilly recalled that Chutkan has sentenced defendants in these cases to longer terms than even the government had requested. (Conversely, recall that federal prosecutors are appealing sentences handed down by another federal judge in Washington, Amit Mehta, for being too low in the government’s view.)

Read more below:

13d ago / 7:31 PM UTC

Don’t expect this indictment to seal Trump’s political fate

Three indictments, two impeachments and infinite scandals later, could Trump’s political demise be unfolding before our eyes? Don’t count on it.

While Trump’s upcoming trials could lead to convictions and ultimately prove detrimental to his 2024 presidential run, it would be a mistake to assume his legal challenges will end his political career.

Keep in mind: Trump has emerged defiant from seemingly unrecoverable controversies, from the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape to a jury finding him liable for sexual assault.

As MSNBC Daily’s Zeeshan Aleem wrote in June following Trump’s second indictment:

Trump has yet to do anything since his rise to power to lose the support of his core base; his political identity involves openly arguing that political and legal rules should be broken in order to make America great again. … Banking on convictions to eliminate the threat posed by Trump is shortsighted. There are virtually no convictions that can bar Trump from winning office or acting as president, and he has a variety of tools available to either avoid being sentenced before taking office or pardoning himself upon taking office. A Trump victory remains plausible, and attention and energy should remain laser focused on mobilizing and making the electoral case against an authoritarian threat. Nobody is coming to save us — only we can protect ourselves.

Read more from Zeeshan’s post below:

13d ago / 7:27 PM UTC

First sketch from inside the courthouse

Here's what was happening inside Prettyman federal courthouse earlier this afternoon ahead of Trump's arrival:

View of hallway leading to Trump arraignment courtroom in E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse on Aug. 3, 2023 in Washington, DC.
View of the hallway leading to the Trump arraignment courtroom in E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse in Washington today.Bill Hennessy
13d ago / 7:15 PM UTC

5 key details you might have missed in the indictment

I spent an inordinate amount of time on Tuesday hitting refresh on the federal court system’s electronic dockets in anticipation of Trump’s newest indictment. 

But for those of you who are normal consumers of news and analysis, and lacked the time or energy to scrutinize those 45 pages, never fear. I've picked out the five most interesting or head-scratching things about the indictment.

For one, we don’t know, but it sure seems like Mark Meadows may have provided information that incriminates Trump — and himself.

Read more below:

13d ago / 7:08 PM UTC

Jan. 6 officers try to attend Trump’s arraignment

When Trump is arraigned in federal court this afternoon, the audience may include law enforcement officers who were present at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

“A few of the officers who responded to the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, hope to attend the first hearing in special counsel Jack Smith’s indictment against Trump,” NBC News reported. “It’s not clear whether they’ll be able to get inside due to significant public interest and limited space, but there are some overflow seats outside of the main courtroom.”

Among those hoping to attend is Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, who has been honored for defending Congress that fateful day. He recently told The ReidOut Blog’s Ja’han Jones what a Trump indictment means to him:

Indictments are only a part of the way to justice. Real justice is what? A guilty verdict. With an indictment — just say the trial doesn’t happen ’til after the election, and say Trump wins. You know that s--- goes away if he wins, right? So if that happens, is that justice? ‘We got the indictment! We got justice!’ No, we didn’t. So it’s a mile marker on the way to justice — it’s what should happen when somebody breaks the law. You get investigated, you get indicted, you get convicted, you get sentenced. That’s f---ing justice.

13d ago / 6:41 PM UTC

Will Jack Smith stare down Trump again?


During Trump's last arraignment in June, in Smith's classified documents case, the special counsel reportedly didn't take his eyes off the former president throughout the proceeding. It remains to be seen whether Smith will take the same approach this time around — or if he will even be present in the courtroom today.

Smith has become something of a household name at this point, but here's a refresher on his background and how he became a key figure in some of Trump's historic legal battles.

Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed him as special counsel in November 2022 to lead two separate investigations: one into Trump’s retention of classified documents, and the other into 2020 election interference and Jan. 6, 2021.

Smith, 54, has an impressive resume, with experience ranging from the New York County District Attorney’s Office to The Hague, where he investigated war crimes at the International Criminal Court. Yet his greatest strength in this case may be his relative anonymity and apolitical reputation, which serves as an important defense against Trump’s tactic of name-calling and polarization. 

As Charlie Dent wrote for MSNBC Daily in June: 

Pre-Trump, the idea that a former president of the United States would viciously and publicly insult and undermine the prosecutors investigating him would have been absurd. But this is not a politician — or political movement — that respects the criminal justice system. Indeed, it’s already clear that, whatever the merits of the cases investigated by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, Trump and his allies have found plenty of angles of attack.

For one thing, both of those prosecutors are elected Democrats, enabling Trump to hammer them as politically motivated hacks. As an unelected career prosecutor, Smith is not currently aligned with a political party. Trump can complain about witch hunts all he wants, but political bias is far harder to argue with Smith — at least with a straight face. And it should be harder for both Democrats and Republicans to use politics to undermine his conclusions.

13d ago / 6:09 PM UTC

Who testified before the grand jury in this case?

No indictment happens without a grand jury. Before deciding whether criminal charges should be brought, a grand jury hears the evidence, so let’s take a look at whose testimony may have helped lead to Trump’s latest indictment.

In April, former Vice President Mike Pence testified after receiving a subpoena. The testimony came after legal fights from both Pence, who declared the summons “unconstitutional,” and Trump, who was resistant to having his former VP (and current 2024 competitor) speak under oath. 

Other Trump allies who reportedly testified include former White House senior adviser Stephen Miller, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Trump’s 2020 deputy director of Election Day operations, Gary Michael Brown. Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is thought to have testified in both of special counsel Jack Smith’s probes, reportedly leading some members of Team Trump to start using a rat emoji to refer to him.

In June, several Secret Service agents who may have been eyewitnesses to Trump’s Jan. 6 behavior testified, as did Nevada GOP Chair Michael McDonald and the state party’s vice chair, Jim DeGraffenreid — two of the “fake electors” in Trump’s attempt to overturn the election.

Ultimately, it seems that people in Trump’s orbit may hold the key to this case.

13d ago / 6:01 PM UTC

It's time to drag the federal judiciary into the present day

Cameras in federal courtrooms? It can happen, and I believe it has to happen.

We have to drag the federal judiciary into the present day, even if they're figuratively kicking and screaming. It's a little bit absurd that courtrooms and criminal trials are public proceedings, and yet the limitation (with respect to the public observing those proceedings) is the size of the courtroom? That doesn't make any sense.

I have heard that they will be broadcasting or livestreaming the proceedings to other courtrooms, what we call overflow courtrooms, so maybe 100 or 150 people who will be directly impacted by how this trial ends up can observe the proceedings. That makes no sense.

Ultimately, it will be up to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to decide whether this is the moment in time when the rules should make sense and they should militate in favor of transparency when it comes to watching what the leader of our nation did to our nation. I sure hope Roberts orders that these proceedings be televised.

I think cameras in the courtroom are a must because if we don't have them, what are we going to get? A one-sided account coming from Trump's lawyers. You're not going to get anything from Jack Smith and his federal prosecutors, and frankly, that will not be a fair fight in the court of public opinion. And let's be real, this case in part will be fought and won or lost, at least in the minds of voters, in the court of public opinion.

From Glenn Kirschner's appearance on "Morning Joe" earlier today. It has been edited slightly for length and clarity.

13d ago / 5:29 PM UTC

13d ago / 5:28 PM UTC

Trump posts to Truth Social : 'I am being arrested for you'

Trump seems to be having a normal morning (as far as Trump mornings go), firing off several all-caps posts on his Truth Social site.

"I need one more indictment to ensure my election!" he wrote a couple of hours ago, adding in a later post: "I am now going to Washington, D.C., to be arrested for having challenged a corrupt, rigged & stolen election. It is a great honor, because I am being arrested for you."

Trump has maintained a hefty lead over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the rest of the GOP presidential contenders, despite (or perhaps, with the help of) his three indictments. And while he saw a major boost in donations in the wake of his first indictment (the hush money case in New York), he's seen diminishing returns on the subsequent indictments.

13d ago / 5:13 PM UTC

This case doesn't turn on any one witness

The words, sentences and paragraphs in this indictment are significant and they make for a compelling case.

I also don't think this case turns on any one witness. As alleged in the indictment, there's a whole bunch of people who had candid conversations with Trump, told him he lost, and told him that he had no basis in law or fact to submit slates of fake electors to try and steal the election.

But good prosecutors don't talk about slam dunks and guarantee wins. Juries can do anything. When you walk into court as a prosecutor, you walk in with two things: a strong case and a dose of humility.

This is from Chuck Rosenberg's appearance on "Andrea Mitchell Reports" moments ago. It has been slightly edited for length and clarity.

13d ago / 4:41 PM UTC

As a lawyer, here's what stood out to me in the indictment

Trump's 2020 election indictment is 45 pages of vivid allegations that read like a compelling novel. But the shocking descriptions within it appear to be not fiction but reality, and the events are now a dark stain on American history.

This document begins with Smith setting the stage with a brief description of where the alleged crimes took place as well as the main players. But after that quick scene setter, Smith opens the floodgates.

Read the notes I jotted down as I read the indictment in my annotated version below:

13d ago / 4:16 PM UTC

Trump is far from the only person charged in Jan. 6

Trump is hardly the first person to face arrest in connection with Jan. 6, 2021.

In fact, more than 1,000 people have been arrested, according to the Justice Department. Of those, nearly 600 have pleaded guilty and about 335 have received time behind bars.

The sentences have ranged in length. Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the far-right Oath Keepers militia group, was sentenced to 18 years, the longest term so far. As of May, the median sentence was 60 days, according to Time magazine.

Multiple Jan. 6 suspects are still wanted by the FBI. One even left the U.S. and was granted asylum by Belarus.

So the next time Trump claims he's being unfairly prosecuted, just remember: As far as Jan. 6 goes, his case is joining more than 1,000 others.

13d ago / 4:14 PM UTC

The scene outside Prettyman federal courthouse

Trump will be arraigned at E. Barrett Prettyman federal courthouse in Washington, which is less than half a mile from the U.S. Capitol. Security measures have been bolstered in recent days around the courthouse, including barriers and increased police presence.

A  Homeland Security canine unit sweeps one of the entrances to the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse in Washington on Aug. 3, 2023.
A Homeland Security canine unit sweeps one of the entrances to the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse on Thursday.Roberto Schmidt / Getty Images
A supporter of former President Donald Trump flies a flag outside of the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse on Aug. 3, 2023.
A supporter of former President Donald Trump flies a flag outside Prettyman courthouse.Drew Angerer / Getty Images
Workers install security fencing along 3rd St. in Washington, D.C.
Workers install security fencing on Thursday near Prettyman courthouse.Kent Nishimura / Getty Images
13d ago / 4:11 PM UTC

What to expect today

Trump is scheduled to be arraigned at 4 p.m. ET at the Prettyman federal courthouse in Washington, less than half a mile from the U.S. Capitol.

He will be arrested and taken into custody, where he be fingerprinted. Like his last two arraignments (one for the classified documents case in Florida and the other for the hush money case in New York), he will not have a mug shot taken. He is expected to enter a plea during the proceeding.

It's unclear if he will address the press before or after the arraignment. There are just 11 seats reserved for the media in the courtroom, according to NBC News, and no cameras are allowed in the courtroom (like any other federal courtroom).