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Trump Waives Arraignment, Pleads Not Guilty in Georgia Case

(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump waived his right to an in-person arraignment in Atlanta and pleaded not guilty to state charges in Georgia that he conspired to overturn his loss in the 2020 presidential election.

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The former president on Thursday entered his plea in a brief court filing, the fourth time he has formally denied criminal charges this year. Trump also challenged Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s request to hold the trial as soon as October, arguing that wouldn’t give him enough time to prepare.

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The waiver spares Trump — the Republican front-runner in the 2024 campaign for the White House — from a 15-minute hearing on Sept. 6 that was expected to be broadcast on live television with cameras set up in the courtroom under Georgia state rules. It was signed by his Georgia lawyer, Steve Sadow, who declined to comment on the filing.

Willis brought the indictment on Aug. 14, accusing Trump and others of violating Georgia’s racketeering law and other statutes by conspiring to keep him in office after he lost the election to Joe Biden. Last week she asked the judge overseeing the case to set a trial for all 19 defendants on Oct. 23, months earlier than she had initially requested. She did so after one of the defendants, attorney Kenneth Chesebro, made a formal request for an expedited trial under Georgia’s “speedy trial” law.

Read More: Trump Faces Prospect of Up to Six Trials During Primary Season

In a separate filing on Thursday, Sadow asked the court to separate his client from any defendant who makes a speedy-trial request. An October trial “would violate President Trump’s federal and state constitutional rights,” according to the filing.

It remains to be seen how many of the defendants will follow Trump in waiving their arraignments, all of which were set for Sept. 6. Longtime Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Trump’s former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows haven’t yet waived their in-person hearings or entered their pleas.

Former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell, an architect of the rigged-election conspiracy theory, earlier waived her arraignment and pleaded not guilty through a court filing, as did Ray S. Smith, a Georgia lawyer who advised Trump on legal challenges to the 2020 election result.

Trump, who surrendered for booking at the Fulton County Jail on Aug. 24 after agreeing to a $200,000 bond, has denied wrongdoing and claims the case is part of a “witch hunt” against him. It’s one of four criminal prosecutions he is facing, including a similar federal election case in Washington and two unrelated prosecutions in Florida and New York.

The case is Georgia v. Trump, 2023SC188947, Fulton County Superior Court.

(Updates with Trump asking to separate his case from those of defendants seeking expedited trials.)

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