Updated Jul 18, 2023, 12:09pm EDT
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What it means: DOJ tells Trump he’s a target in the Jan. 6 investigation

Former U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks at a rally.
REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

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The News

Former President Donald Trump was told by federal prosecutors that he is a target in the Department of Justice’s investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

He posted on Truth Social that he received a letter Sunday night informing him that he is a target, “and giving me a very short 4 days to report to the Grand Jury, which almost always means an Arrest and Indictment.”

A source close to Trump confirmed to The New York Times that he received the letter, though it’s unclear what part of the investigation it refers to.

We’ve curated insights and reporting from experts on what another possible indictment could mean for Trump and the 2024 presidential hopefuls.

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Know More

Special Counsel Smith has been investigating Trump’s role in the deadly riot, and his efforts to subvert his 2020 election loss.


A grand jury indicted Trump in June over his alleged mishandling of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago resort, making him the first former president to face federal criminal charges.

For months, witnesses who have been subpoenaed have testified before a grand jury in Washington. The list includes former Trump staffers, election officials from across the country, and former Vice President Mike Pence, who tried and failed to avoid testifying.

A spokesperson for Smith declined to comment Tuesday.

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  • Analysts agree the letter is a sign that another indictment against Trump could be imminent. It’s unclear what specific crimes or charges Smith is eyeing, Politico’s Kyle Cheney points out. His probe is wide-reaching, ranging from Trump’s actions on Jan. 6 to his allies’ larger plan to assemble groups of fake state electors and seize voting machines.
  • The field of Republicans running against Trump for the 2024 presidential nomination was largely silent in the wake of the news. Another possible indictment puts the candidates — many of whom have been hesitant to either defend or attack Trump — in a difficult spot, Semafor’s Benjy Sarlin said. One exception: Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a White House hopeful, said in a statement that Trump’s actions on Jan. 6 should disqualify him from being president again.
  • Trump could also soon be indicted on state charges in Fulton County, Georgia, over his efforts to overturn his election loss there. There is some overlap between the two investigations, but local prosecutor Fani Willis won’t have to step aside if Smith wants to pursue a federal indictment first, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. “She has every right to charge what happened in Georgia as Georgia crimes, particularly the racketeering statute,” a former federal special prosecutor told the paper.