Trump was sworn in by a courtroom deputy and swore to tell the truth, so help him god. He stated his name and age a bit awkwardly — “Donald J. Trump. John.” “Seven-seven.”
He had to confirm that he was not on any medication or drugs that might alter his ability to comprehend the proceedings. Trump spoke few words during his 45 minutes in the room, replying to questions with “yes” or “yes, your honor” in ways that were barely audible in the courtroom or on livestreams beamed to other parts of the courthouse.
Magistrate Judge Moxila Upadhyaya — whose family members were present in the public gallery — read carefully as she ticked through each of the formal steps that come with a criminal defendant’s initial appearance in court, emphasizing at times that this is the same process anyone facing charges goes through.
“You have the right to remain silent,” she admonished him, just hours after Trump took to Truth Social to attack the prosecutors and judge in his case.
She also noted that he could have an attorney appointed if he couldn’t afford one, another unintentionally ironic moment as Trump sat sandwiched between two high-priced lawyers funded by his “Save America” political committee.
Prosecutors emphasized they were not seeking to detain Trump prior to his trial. And then Upadhyaya read through a standard list of warnings: Trump could be arrested and jailed if he violates any of his release conditions — including a vow not to commit any crimes and not to “obstruct the administration of justice” by attempting to influence or retaliate against any witnesses. Trump, of course, has been charged by Smith in Florida with several counts of attempting to do just that in order to prevent investigators from recovering classified documents from his Mar-a-Lago estate. [Continue reading…]
On a day sure to be studied by future generations, Trump was arraigned on four criminal charges stemming from his efforts to remain in power after the 2020 election. This is a man who has always loved beating his chest, sticking his names on buildings, staging military parades and cosying up to dictators. But on Thursday, away from the TV cameras, this wannabe American strongman was cut down to size with exquisite symbolism.
For four years, Trump would enter rooms to the strains of “Hail to the Chief” and everyone would rise to their feet. Now the power dynamics were reversed: at the cry of “All rise!”, it was he who was forced to stand.
Long accused of sexism, racism and xenophobia, he had to defer to magistrate judge Moxila Upadhyaya, a woman born in Gujarat, India. His future trial will be overseen by Judge Tanya Chutkan, a woman born in Kingston, Jamaica, and appointed to the bench by Barack Obama.
Upadhyaya made Trump stew by arriving about 15min late. He occupied that time sitting at a long table that bore a black computer monitor, microphone and sheets of paper. He folded and unfolded his hands, picked up a document and discarded it, turned and whispered to his lawyers. He scratched his nose, scribbled on a document and puffed out his cheeks. Like a child, he could not sit still.
The days when he could push a red button in the Oval Office to order a Diet Coke on a silver platter were long gone. The mouth that summoned armies of supporters to the nearby Capitol on January 6, or that delivers bellicose speeches at campaign rallies, was silenced. When Upadhyaya, firm but courteous, took her seat, she called him “Mr Trump” rather than “President Trump” – a citizen, no more and no less. [Continue reading…]
One aspect of the hearing that irked the former president — who is still referred to by his former title when at his Bedminster golf club or Mar-a-Lago resort — was when Magistrate Judge Moxila Upadhyaya referred to him as simply “Mr. Trump.”