Aug 3, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Trump's arrest playbook becomes clear after third arraignment

Former President Trump steps off his plane at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Thursday. Photo: Alex Brandon/AP

Former President Trump's arrest playbook is coming into view after his arraignment Thursday in a D.C. federal courthouse.

Why it matters: Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, has followed a similar plan across his three arraignments designed to keep attention on him and his campaign.

  • He pleaded not guilty to charges brought by special counsel Jack Smith that he used "unlawful means" in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

Zoom in: The former president's activities around his arrests — in Manhattan, Miami and Washington — have followed a similar pattern:

  • A carefully choreographed route gives reporters and news helicopters a chance to closely follow — and air live pictures of — Trump's motorcade. CNN aired images from inside his caravan on Thursday.
  • Trump has repeatedly cast himself on social media as a victim of "Biden's DOJ." He's said little around the courthouse, preferring to wait until he's on friendly territory to make statements.
  • In two of the cases, Trump and his team have attacked the judge in deeply personal terms. The exception: Aileen Cannon, the federal judge in Florida he appointed.
  • Trump's taken heavy aim at the lead prosecutors. He has also unleashed calls for trials to be moved away from D.C. and Manhattan, heavily Democratic areas.

Between the lines: Trump's lawyers once again indicated they will attempt to delay a trial — setting up a chaotic and unprecedented 2024 election that could be heavily disrupted by court dates.

  • Trump's appearance came in the same D.C. courthouse, just blocks from the Capitol, that has hosted the trials of Jan. 6 rioters.

What's next: The next hearing is scheduled for Aug. 28, when a trial date will likely be set.

Go deeper: Trump pleads not guilty to all charges in federal Jan. 6 case

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