Updated Aug 1, 2023, 6:44pm EDT
politicsNorth America

Donald Trump indicted over Jan. 6, election interference

Donald Trump pauses as he speaks at a campaign event in Council Bluffs, Iowa, U.S., July 7, 2023.
REUTERS/Scott Morgan
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The News

Former President Donald Trump was indicted Tuesday in connection to his efforts to overturn his loss in the 2020 election, including his actions surrounding the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Trump, who remains the lead Republican candidate in the 2024 presidential race, is now facing criminal charges in two federal cases, after he was indicted in June over his alleged mishandling of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago resort after leaving office. And he’s facing local charges in New York, and possibly in Georgia.

In the latest case, Trump was charged with four federal counts:

  • Conspiracy to defraud the U.S.
  • Conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding
  • Obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding
  • Conspiracy against rights

He was summoned to appear in a Washington, D.C. court for a hearing on Thursday.

“The attack on our nation’s Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 was an unprecedented assault on the seat of American democracy,” Special Counsel Jack Smith said during brief remarks to the press Tuesday. “As described in the indictment, it was fueled by lies — lies by the defendant, targeted at obstructing a bedrock function of the U.S. government.”

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The 45-page indictment alleges that Trump “was determined to remain in power” despite having lost.

In a statement Tuesday, a Trump campaign spokesperson called the charges “fake.”

“The lawlessness of these persecutions of President Trump and his supporters is reminiscent of Nazi Germany in the 1930s, the former Soviet Union, and other authoritarian, dictatorial regimes,” the spokesperson said.

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Know More

Special Counsel Jack Smith was appointed last year to investigate Trump’s role in the deadly Jan. 6 riot and his efforts to subvert the 2020 election.

The probe was wide-reaching; the indictment includes a state-by-state breakdown of Trump’s alleged scheme to overturn his losses in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. It also included his allies’ larger plan to assemble groups of fake electors across the country.

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For months, witnesses have been subpoenaed and 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.

Trump said in mid-July that he received a letter informing him that he is a target in the investigation.

Meanwhile, in the classified documents case, a federal judge set a trial date of May 20, 2024 in Florida.

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Insights

  • The indictment said Trump had six co-conspirators who assisted in his “criminal efforts” to overturn the election. They were not charged or identified by name, though Smith said Tuesday that “our investigation of other individuals continues.” An attorney for former Trump lawyer John Eastman confirmed that he is one of the co-conspirators. While there was speculation that one of the co-conspirators appears to be Rudy Giuliani, his spokesperson said he “he has no reason to believe” that the former New York City mayor will be contacted in the case. — NBC News
  • One of the charges Trump is facing, “conspiracy against rights,” is a Reconstruction-era law that prohibits anyone from conspiring “to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person” for exercising their rights. The DOJ recently convicted a Trump supporter under that statute, claiming he spread misinformation online to suppress Black voter turnout. The case could be useful to understanding Trump’s latest indictment, MSNBC’s Jordan Rubin wrote.
  • With the 2020 election back in the spotlight, it’s intensifying divisions within the GOP over how to address Trump’s actions, both on Capitol Hill and the campaign trail, The Wall Street Journal reported. While some Republicans have fiercely defended him, others have criticized him and said he poses a threat to the party and country. Then there’s a group of big names who have ridden the middle, “lightly criticizing Trump over Jan. 6 while directing their ire toward the various prosecutors investigating the former president.”
  • Smith employs 40 to 60 people and is on track to spend about $25 million a year as he investigates Trump, The New York Times reported. The prosecutorial efforts don’t seem to be pulling resources away from fighting crime and pursuing other cases, but the agencies are nevertheless having to pay a “Trump tax,” which the Times described as having “to expend disproportionate time and energy on the former president, and defending themselves against his unfounded claims that they are persecuting him at the expense of public safety.”
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