For 15 excruciating minutes, former President Donald Trump was forced to sit and wait outside Court 22A – with his nemesis, Special Counsel Jack Smith, just yards away.
It was his third arraignment in less than six months, but his encounter with Judge Moxila Upadhyaya was perhaps the most humiliating in the city he has called home for four chaotic years.
In a hearing that lasted just 27 minutes, he spoke quietly to his lawyers, said his name “Donald J. Trump” and pleaded not guilty to four federal charges of conspiring to nullify the election. .
At one point he appeared to say “unacceptable” while discussing documents, before his January 6 lawyer, John Lauro, moved the microphone away.
Former President Donald Trump was forced to wait for a magistrate at the start of his DC hearing He has pleaded not guilty
DailyMail.com was at the E. Barrett Pettyman Courthouse in Washington DC to watch a humble former president being told not to try to influence witnesses and to refrain from using drugs or alcohol – even if he is notoriously abstinent.
Trump entered the courtroom on Thursday afternoon with a sullen look to sit in the same room as Smith, whom he consistently called “disturbed.”
He cast a single quick glance in her direction as he awaited his fate, then seemed to look anywhere but at his nemesis.
Smith, known as a tough prosecutor who took on war criminals in The Hague, sat behind government lawyers and often looked left in Trump’s direction.
Trump, who regularly kept the press waiting when he was president and was constantly in charge, arrived at 3:52 p.m.
He looked straight ahead at Smiths’ team of deputies, then glanced at the gallery, where there were reporters and just a handful of members of the public – including one who said he wanted to see ‘how orange he was’ in person.
Briefly, he smiled at the group of American Marshalls who stood with their backs to the door in a locked courtroom.
Then the wait began. Trump chatted several times with his attorney, Todd Blanche, who sat to his right.
Occasionally he spoke with attorney John Lauro, who has been defending him on television since his stunning indictment on charges of conspiring to obstruct official proceedings during the vote count.
The first expressions of annoyance and discomfort became more casual as the wait continued. He smiled at his lawyers, kept his hands on the desk, and said “absolutely” and “okay” to some of their advice.
Trump laid his hands on a table as he waited for Magistrate Judge Moxila A. Upadhyaya. He spoke with lawyers Todd Blanche and John Lauro while waiting
Special Counsel Jack Smith was in the courtroom and appeared to look directly at Trump
At 4:08 a.m., several minutes into his hearing, Trump began glancing repeatedly at Judge Upadhyaya’s bench and empty black chair.
Blanche twirled her pen as Trump continued to look around the room.
By the time an employee ordered “everyone to stand up,” it was 4:15 p.m. Those who had been waiting for the hearing following what was said to be a landmark indictment rose to their feet. Trump was among the last.
Prior to the action, several dozen people inside the courtroom chatted, often energetically, while anticipating a Trump appearance in a new jurisdiction, but followed high-profile appearances in New York and Miami.
Seated in the back were the chief justice of the courthouse, as well as Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who oversaw the cases of Trump figures such as Roger Stone and Paul Manafort.
There were also members of the judge’s family, who were seated in front of the reporters, as well as five members of the public.
Once Trump entered the room, there was silence, other than his muffled conversations amid the humming HVAC system.
Once the action started, Judge Upadhyaya alternated between calling her high profile visitor ‘Mr. Trump’ and ‘Mr.’
This is how she referred to him as she read aloud count, 2, on conspiracy to obstruct official process. She also read charges of conspiracy against rights and other charges of obstruction.
When she asked Trump for his name, he replied, “Donald J. Trump – John,” giving his full middle name.
“As I mentioned, Mr. Trump, you have certain rights,” she told him, before informing him of his right to counsel and remaining silent. She added a strict warning about talking to witnesses or intimidating.
When he finally wrote his plea, Trump would pause in his response. “No…guilty,” he said, with a slight pause between key words.
“Thank you, sir,” the judge said to him.
There was just a hint of intense jostling over the schedule that is certain to come. The judge, after conferring with the trial judge, offered Trump and the government three dates — all within a week.
She proposed August 21, August 22 and August 28. The government asked for “the earliest date”.
August 22 is the day before the first GOP debate in Milwaukee.
Trump’s team wanted the last one, asked for the 28th, and got their wish.
The judge wanted memos from both sides about how long the trial would take and when they would be ready.
Trump’s attorney John Lauro said there would be a ‘massive amount’ of discovery material and said he wanted to vigorously pursue ‘every case on behalf of Trump’ and the American people.
‘M. Trump is entitled to a fair and just trial, although he is entitled to a speedy trial,’ he said.
It started to shake up the Speedy Trial Act. The government has pledged to produce a “substantial” amount of material for Trump’s team.
“This case, like any other case, would benefit from normal order, including a speedy trial,” said lead prosecutor Thomas Windom.
The judge felt compelled to address Lauro’s complaints that Trump would get due process and a fair trial. “I’m sure of it,” she said.
Lauro went on to complain that Trump’s team doesn’t know the extent of the evidence the government amassed during their two-and-a-half-year investigation (although he said it was three-and-a-half years ).
“You can file any objections with the district judge,” she said, referring to Judge Tanya S. Chutkan.
When it was over, the clerk again demanded that “everyone stand,” and Trump did, although he again fell behind the rest of the courtroom.
Five members of the public, who had camped online from Wednesday evening, were there.
One was George Washington University student and scholar Yosi Zelalem, 22, who donned a suit and came to watch the trial after taking a seat for a media outlet. “Whenever I can watch a historic moment in history, I go,” he said.
The Alexandria, Va. resident said Trump was “guilty as…”
Zelalem said he conducted COVID tests for Capitol Police officers after Jan. 6. “I just remember how traumatized they were,” he said. “It seems like a lot of them have lost the will to live.”
But he also said he wanted to know “how orange Donald Trump is in person.”
He couldn’t avoid sharing his observation even as the hearing was underway. “By the way, it’s really orange,” he said.