Donald Trump pleads not guilty to federal conspiracy charges in plot to overturn 2020 election

ITV News' Robert Moore and Dan Rivers update us on the latest as Donald Trump pleads not guilty to charges that call for up to 20 years in prison

Donald Trump has said it is "a very sad day for America" as he pleaded not guilty to federal conspiracy charges accusing him of plotting to subvert the will of voters and overturn his 2020 election loss.

The newest charges - Trump's third criminal indictment this year - centre on the tumultuous events of 6 January 2021 when rioters attempted to stage an insurrection at the US Capitol building.

Before entering his plea, wearing a suit and red tie, the former US president answered basic questions from the judge and was informed of the charges against him and the potential penalties.

He was released on conditions, including that he not have contact about the case with any witnesses unless attorneys are present, and swiftly left the Washington DC courthouse two days after being indicted on four felony counts by special counsel Jack Smith.

"This is a very sad day for America, and it was also very sad driving through Washington DC and seeing the filth and decay and all of the broken buildings and walls and the graffiti, this is not the place that I left," Trump said to reporters after leaving the courthouse.

'This was never supposed to happen in America', Trump tells reporters after the plea hearing

"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's leading by very, very substantial numbers in the Republican primary and leading Biden by a lot," the 77-year-old added.

The most serious charges he is facing call for up to 20 years in prison.

The next hearing in the case has been set for August 28, just days after the first debate in the 2024 Republican presidential primary debate.

'Everyone on his team will continue to fight, not for him, but for the American people,' said Trump's lawyer Alina Habba. Credit: AP

The former US president is now back at his home and golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, following his day in court. He spent less than two hours in total in the US capital.

In a post on his Truth Social social media platform on Thursday evening, Trump said it was "a very good day" before taking aim at US president Joe Biden, who Trump blames for his arrest.

"Considering the fact that I had to fly to a filthy, dirty, falling apart and very unsafe Washington DC today, and that I was then arrested by my political opponent, who is losing badly to me in the polls, crooked Joe Biden it was a very good day!", he said.

Christina Bobb, a lawyer for Trump based in Florida, told ITV News 'the more they indict Donald Trump, the more popular he gets'.

Metal barriers were put up around the Washington DC courthouse overnight and a large security operation is expected.

On Wednesday, police searched senate office buildings near the US Capitol after a 911 call warned of a possible active gunman. It was a false alarm.

Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said the cause of the alert “may have been a bogus call.”

Trump faces four charges including conspiracy to defraud the US government and conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding.

He was the only person charged in the case, though prosecutors referenced six co-conspirators, mostly lawyers, they say he plotted with.

Donald Trump arriving at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Thursday. Credit: AP

Trump has since called for his case to be moved out of Washington DC as he claims it is "impossible to get a fair trial in Washington which is 95% anti-Trump".

He instead called for the "fake case" to be moved to an "impartial venue", suggesting the "politically unbiased nearby state of West Virginia".

"This indictment is all about election interference," Trump claimed in a statement on his social media website Truth Social.

This is the third criminal case brought against Trump in the last six months.

US Capitol Police officers responded to a 911 call claiming there was an active shooter in Washington, but it was a false alarm. Credit: AP

He was charged in New York with falsifying business records in connection with a hush money payment to a porn actor during the 2016 presidential campaign.

He was also charged with 40 felony counts in Florida, accusing him of illegally retaining classified documents at his Palm Beach estate, Mar-a-Lago, and refusing government demands to give them back.

He has pleaded not guilty in both those cases, which are set for trial next year.

Prosecutors in Georgia are expected to announce charges in the coming weeks following a probe into efforts to subvert election results in that state.

Trump's lawyer John Lauro has said in television interviews that Trump's actions were protected by the First Amendment right to free speech and that he relied on the advice of lawyers.

US Justice Department Special Counsel Jack Smith said that he was seeking a speedy trial, though Lauro has said he intends to slow the case down so that the defense team can conduct its own investigation.

The arraignment will be handled before US Magistrate Judge Moxila Upadyaha, who joined the bench last year.

But going forward, the case will be presided over by US District Judge Tanya Chutkan, an appointee of President Barack Obama who has stood out as one of the toughest punishers of the Capitol rioters.

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