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Trump pleads not guilty over attempts to overthrow the 2020 election

Former-President Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to charges related to attempts to overthrow the 2020 Presidential Election and the ensuing January 6 Capitol Riot.

Trump, the early front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, faced a judge at a federal courthouse in Washington DC on August 3 mere blocks from the US Capitol building that his supporters tried to storm.

The indictment outlining the charges accused Trump of spreading lies about fraud in the election. It reads: “These claims were false, and the Defendant knew that they were false.”

He has been charged with conspiracy to defraud the US, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy against the right to vote.

As he entered the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse, the judge greeted the former-President saying: “Good afternoon, Mr Trump.” In an awkward moment, when asked to give his name, Trump got up and walked towards the judge. The judge assured Trump he wouldn’t need to stand.

He was then asked his age and if he took any drugs, to which he replied “No”. Trump was then read the charges and told the maximum penalty for each charge. Asked how he pleaded to the charges, Trump, who the judge addressed as “Mr Trump”, said “Not guilty.”

Trump was told conspiracy to defraud the United States carries a maximum of five years in prison, that corrupt obstruction of a proceeding and conspiracy up to 20 years and conspiracy against rights has a maximum term of up to 10 years.

However, if he was convicted on all 78 counts currently against him and given the maximum statutory penalty for each one, he would face a whopping 641 years in prison.

Trump ambled into court at 3.51pm local time and sat down at the defence table, playing with some papers in front of him. At one point, he appeared to stare at lead prosecutor Jack Smith for several moments before leaning forward and glaring at the other prosecutors and FBI Special Agent Garner sitting across from him.

A prosecutor for the government said: “This case will benefit from normal order, including a speedy trial.” This was pushed back against by Trump’s lawyer John Lauro, who said his team needs time to assess “the scope and extent” of the justice department’s evidence in this case.

Three officers who were caught up in the January 6 riot were in attendance in court. The courtroom appearance was overseen by Judge Moxila A Upadhyaya but she will not oversee future hearings.

Following the hearing, Trump drove to the airport to fly back to New Jersey. Before boarding the flight he addressed reporters describing the court appearance as a “sad day for America.”

He added: “It was also very sad driving through Washington DC and seeing the filth and decay and all of the broken buildings, walls and graffiti. This is not the place that I left. It is a very sad thing to see it.

“When you look at what’s happening, this is a persecution of a political opponent. This was never supposed to happen in America. This is the persecution of the person that is leading by very, very substantial numbers in the Republican primary and leading Biden by a lot. So, if you can’t beat him you persecute or you prosecute him. We can’t let this happen in America… thank you very much.”

Current polls between Biden and Trump are neck and neck.

Donald Trump has been charged on four counts relating to alleged conspiracy involving him and six co-conspirators in the run-up to and during the fatal riots at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Trump supporters stormed the Capitol demanding the election results be overturned as Mr Trump continued to claim, falsely, that the election had been stolen.

The indictment charged Mr Trump on the following counts:

Mr Trump and the co-conspirators are alleged to have attempted to bring in fake slates of electors into the states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

It is alleged some electors were wrongly told certificates they were signing that said Mr Trump won the election would only be used in the event of the 45th president’s legal cases contesting the results becoming successful.

“Fraudulent electors were there in an attempt to “mimic the procedures that the legitimate electors were supposed to follow,” the indictment said.

This was part of a plan to dupe Vice President Mike Pence into rejecting the official election results.

Mr Pence performed a ceremonial role in Congress on January 6 that saw the election win for President Joe Biden confirmed. The indictment said Mr Trump continued to spout falsehoods even as a violent mob attacked the Capitol that day.

“As violence ensued, the Defendant and co-conspirators exploited the disruption by redoubling efforts to levy false claims of election fraud and convince Members of Congress to further delay the certification based on those claims,” the indictment reads.

Prosecutors cited “contemporaneous notes” from Mr Pence including a call on January 1 in which Mr Trump supposedly told his vice president “You’re too honest.”

In other news – Duty free entry for Zimbabwe Exemption Permit holders

Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has approved a customs clearance system for South Africa-based residents who hold Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP) to bring their goods to Zimbabwe on duty-free when their permits expire.

Prior to that, Zimbabweans from South Africa have been paying duty at the border post to transport their goods to the other side of the border. Zimra has approved the Flexible Customs Administration Mechanism for the clearance procedure for returning residents.Read More

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