Trump pleads not guilty in Georgia election fraud case

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Donald Trump arriving in Atlanta to surrender on 24 August
By Bernd Debusmann Jr
BBC News, Washington

Former US President Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty in his Georgia election fraud case, waiving the right to appear in court next week.

Mr Trump is among 19 people charged with a conspiracy to overturn the US state’s 2020 vote results.

He turned himself in at Fulton County Jail in Atlanta last week, where he had his mugshot taken.

Mr Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, describing the case as politically motivated.

In a court document filed on Thursday, Mr Trump said he “fully understands” the nature of the allegations and his right to appear in court.

“Understanding my rights, 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,” the signed document says.

Mr Trump, the current frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, has appeared at each of his three previous arraignments.

He was required to do so for the cases he is facing in New York and Florida, and opted not to request a virtual appearance for a separate case in Washington DC.

Georgia’s Fulton County is the only jurisdiction in which he is facing charges where defendants can choose not to appear in court when they are formally charged in criminal cases.

Brian Tevis, an Atlanta attorney who represents one of Mr Trump’s co-accused, Rudy Giuliani, told CBS, the BBC’s US partner, that “99% of the time” defendants who are given the option choose to waive their arraignment.

Earlier this week, three other co-defendants in the case entered not guilty pleas, including former Trump attorneys Ray Stallings Smith and Sidney Powell, as well as former celebrity publicist Trevian Kutti.

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