Trump associates, including Mark Meadows, have pleaded not guilty in Arizona

PHOENIX – Donald Trump’s former White House chief of staff and a campaign aide who ran the former president’s 2020 Election Day operations pleaded not guilty Friday to charges they worked to sabotage Joe Biden’s victory in Arizona nearly four years ago.

Former chief of staff Mark Meadows and former campaign staffer Mike Roman entered their pleas separately during video appearances at the Maricopa County Circuit Court in downtown Phoenix. Along with 16 others, Meadows and Roman are charged with nine felony counts, including conspiracy, racketeering and racketeering, in a lawsuit brought by Arizona Attorney General Chris Mayes (D). Their faces appeared on video monitors in the small courtroom. Defendants in other unrelated cases awaited their turns behind a window, wearing prison-provided orange scrubs.

Most of the 18 defendants have already pleaded not guilty in the 2020 election case, which prosecutors say includes former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, former state GOP chair Kelly Ward and pro-Trump voters who tried to impeach Biden. Perfect electoral victory. On Thursday, the state senate. Jake Hoffman (R) has pleaded not guilty. He also appears in the video with artwork of Ronald Reagan wearing a cowboy hat shown behind him. Later in the day, Hoffman and another co-defendant, the state Senate. Anthony Kern (R) was in the crowd as Trump made his first appearance in the battleground state since his felony conviction in New York. Hilariously, the former president called his trial a “fraud” and claimed “no crime.”

Trump was not charged in Arizona, but was described as an uncharged co-conspirator in the indictment.

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After Trump lost in 2020, his allies worked with attorneys, campaign aides and Republican activists in seven states to try to shift the states’ electoral votes to Trump instead of Biden, according to state and federal prosecutors and previously released records. Most Arizona defendants or their attorneys have long maintained that they did nothing wrong, but Jan. State prosecutors argue they illegally tried to block Biden’s certification of victory in Congress on 6, 2021. Prosecutors and many of the defendants charged that the charges were politically motivated.

Meadows appeared via streaming video in the basement courtroom, wearing a dark suit and royal blue tie. His lawyer Meadows told the commissioner He had already completed his booking requirements, which included a mug shot and fingerprints. It’s unclear whether the sheriff’s office obtained the material; A spokeswoman for the office said Friday there were “no updates” on the availability of Meadows’ mug shot.

As Trump’s last White House chief of staff, Meadows was among those closest to the president, who reportedly evaluated a plan for how legislatures could change voters’ preferences by appointing alternative slates of Trump voters. Jan. 6, 2021 According to text messages obtained by a House committee investigating the origins of the attack, Rep. Andy Biggs (Ariz.) was among the GOP members of Congress who communicated with Meadows about a version of such a strategy. American capital.

Meadows was charged last year with criminal conspiracy to overturn Trump’s 2020 loss in Georgia. That position and a claim for breach of oath by a public officer Trump’s engagement in January 2021 He got on the phone with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger (R) as Trump tried to pressure the official. To reverse Biden’s victory. The latter charge was dismissed this year after the judge overseeing the case said the indictment lacked “sufficient detail.”

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Meanwhile, Meadows downplayed his role in the voter program, testifying in federal court that he had no role in the effort. However, prosecutors have introduced evidence that Meadows emailed in December 2020 about an election plan with a longtime Trump campaign aide.

After technical difficulties, Roman appeared in front of a blank wall wearing a suit and tie. Later, his attorney in Arizona, Kurt Altman, said the charges against Roman were “excessive” and “unwarranted.”

“We don’t understand why the charges were brought in the first place,” Altman said.

After Trump’s defeat, records show Roman helped coordinate an alternative election plan with Trump lawyers. He played a key role in helping organize the strategy and communicated with the state’s top Republicans and others about the Arizona plan, according to the documents.

He was indicted on seven charges in the Atlanta area last year, all related to his involvement with swing voters in the state. On Tuesday, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul (D) charged Roman and the two men with one count each. Forgery, according to criminal complaints. Fees are linked to the voter scheme.

Altman said, standing outside the Phoenix courthouse. “Mr. Roman doesn’t plan on giving up.

Three other defendants in the case are scheduled to plead not guilty on June 18. Among them is Boris Epstein, who is close to the former president and a top adviser to his 2024 campaign.

Holly Bailey in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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