Donald Trump is not a man used to waiting.
But at a court hearing in the nation’s capital, the former US president found himself fidgeting in his seat while he waited 20 minutes for the judge to arrive.
In the meantime, he also stole furtive glances at Special Counsel Jack Smith, the prosecutor who has now indicted him in two separate federal cases.
In recent days, Mr Trump has raged on social media against what he calls a continuing “witch hunt” led by a “deranged” and “wild” Mr Smith.
But in the courtroom, he had to stay silent.
The latest indictment stems from his alleged role in plotting to overturn the 2020 election results. He faces four counts: conspiracy to defraud, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy against rights.
Federal prosecutors allege he knowingly and repeatedly spread false claims about the 2020 election, and, along with several unnamed co-conspirators, took unlawful measures in a bid to stay in power.
Ahead of this latest arraignment – his third in four months – he wrote to his supporters in an all-caps post on his Truth Social platform that his voluntary surrender was “a great honor, because I am being arrested for you”.
But inside the small, second-floor courtroom, Mr Trump listened carefully and answered politely, save for the occasional noticeable shake of the head in dismay.
In one moment, unprompted by the judge, he stood up to answer her question and was told he could sit back down.
Standing up later, he affirmed that his lawyers were entering a plea of not guilty on his behalf.
Earlier this week, Mr Smith said he will seek a speedy trial in this case, and his prosecutors reiterated that request on Thursday.
But Mr Trump’s attorney John Lauro argued that the government has had three years to prepare their case and said that the judge must ensure the trial was fair and protected his client’s rights.
The federal courthouse is in the shadow of the US Capitol, where his supporters rioted in January 2021 to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s victory.
Thursday’s court appearance was the latest in a growing list of legal woes, including charges stemming from allegations he paid hush money to a porn star, and federal charges over the alleged mishandling of classified documents.
The latter case also involved Mr Smith. When they last met in Miami, the federal prosecutor reportedly did not stop staring at Mr Trump.
But in Washington, Mr Smith was careful to avoid the former president’s gaze.
As he launches a third consecutive bid for the White House, the 77-year-old now faces 78 felony charges in total.
His legal bills are mounting and his court dates are adding up – but Mr Trump remains the firm frontrunner for the Republican Party’s nomination for president in 2024.
This court date marked only his second trip back to Washington since he left office, but he was barely here for two hours before flying back to his New Jersey residence.
“This is a very sad day for America,” he said, as he boarded Trump Force One.
And with a parting shot at “the filth and decay” of the city in which he was once commander-in-chief, he added: “This is not the place that I left.”