Trump pleads not guilty
A Trump aide was also charged on Tuesday, and the judge ordered the two defendants not to discuss the case.
Given his high level of recognition – and the hot national temperature – Trump did not have his mugshot taken, while the prosecution also stated that they did not deem him a flight risk.
So what happens now? Tuesday’s proceedings were mostly a legal formality, and much of the government’s case will be revealed in the months ahead – including the release of a list of government witnesses.
In the meantime, Trump’s strategy is clear: Have the case tried in the court of public opinion. Indeed, after the court hearing, he stopped by a restaurant where he was embraced by supporters.
Jack Smith, the special counsel leading the investigation, has said that he wants a speedy trial, but both President Biden and Trump, the GOP frontrunner, likely hope it drags on.
For the incumbent, it allows Trump to soak up all the media oxygen and improves his chances of becoming the nominee – which Biden likely sees as his best chance of winning the general election. Trump, meanwhile, likely hopes that the ongoing legal battle will motivate his base and independents who can be convinced by his argument that the legal system has been weaponized by the Democratic Party.