Trump says election charges are political ‘persecution’

Trump says election charges are political ‘persecution’

Former president spoke to reporters before departing Washington, D.C. following his arraignment

By Firdevs Bulut Kartal

TORONTO (AA) - Former US President Donald Trump said Thursday that charges that he sought to overturn the results of the 2020 election are political “persecution” after appearing in federal court to be arraigned.

"When you look at what's happening, this is a persecution of a political opponent," Trump told reporters before departing Washington, D.C., dubbing it "a very sad day for America."

" 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 (President Joe) Biden by a lot. So if you can't beat him, you persecute him or you prosecute him," he said. “We can’t let this happen in America.”

Trump did not answer questions from reporters.

He appeared in federal court Thursday to be arraigned on four criminal charges related to his alleged efforts to reverse his 2020 election loss.

Trump was processed by law enforcement and arraigned by Magistrate Judge Moxila A. Upadhyaya at the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington, D.C. He pleaded not guilty to the charges as expected and was released pending trial on minimal conditions, according to multiple reports.

Upadhyaya reportedly gave prosecutors one week to file a brief in the case explaining when they would like the trial to take place. Trump's team was ordered to offer their own timeline a week later.

The former president was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury in the Justice Department's long-running investigation into efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

He has maintained his innocence, and his lawyers are expected to argue that his comments were protected speech under the First Amendment to the Constitution and that he legitimately believed his claims of election fraud.

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