On August 1 for the third time in a matter of 4 months former President Donald Trump was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges stemming from his efforts to remain in power after he lost the 2020 presidential election. According to the indictment Trump faces four charges:
- Conspiracy to defraud the United States;
- Conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding;
- Obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding;
- Conspiracy against rights [to vote]
Special Council Jack Smith in announcing the charges, called what happened on January 6, 2021 an “unprecedented assault” on democracy. Smith said “It was fueled by lies: Lies by the defendant targeted at obstructing a bedrock function of the U.S. government — the nation’s process of collecting, counting and certifying the results of the presidential election.”
Special Council Smith’s probe focused on the attempts to thwart the peaceful transfer of power after the November 2020 presidential election or interfere with the certification of Electoral College votes on January 6. The joint session of Congress to certify the election was disrupted when a mob of Trump’s supporters breached the United States Capitol abuilding marking one of the darkest days in this country’s history.
The indictment alleges that despite having lost, Trump “was determined to remain in power.” Over two months after the election, the indictment alleges Trump “spread lies that there had been outcome-determinative fraud in the election and that he had actually won. … These claims were false, and the defendant knew they were false [but Trump] repeated and widely disseminated them anyway.” The indictment says that despite losing the election Trump “was determined to remain in power.” The indictment alleges that over two months after the election, Trump “spread lies that there had been outcome-determinative fraud in the election and that he had actually won [and] these claims were false, and the defendant knew they were false [but he]repeated and widely disseminated them anyway.”
UNINDICTED CO-CONSPIRATORS AND CONDUCT
The indictment alleges that there are 6 unnamed co-conspirators who were “enlisted” to assist Trump in “his criminal efforts to overturn” the election “and retain power.”
According to the indictment Trump and his co-conspirators allegedly “pushed officials to ignore the popular vote [and] organized fraudulent slates of electors” in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and “knowingly [made] false claims of election fraud” and organized “fraudulent slates of electors” in the 7 states.
The indictment alleges Trump and his co-conspirators attempted to use the power of the Justice Department to conduct “sham election crime investigation”. The indictment also alleges they attempted to enlist then-Vice President Mike Pence to use his ceremonial role in affirming the electoral vote count on January 6 to “fraudulently alter the election results.” The indictment also alleges Trump repeatedly pressured Pence to fraudulently reject or return Mr. Biden’s electoral votes.
The indictment alleges that “from about November 14, 2020 through Inauguration Day Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere … Trump, did knowingly combine, conspire, confederate, and agree with co-conspirators, known and unknown to the grand jury, to injure, oppress, threaten, and intimidate one or more persons in the free exercise and enjoyment of a right and privilege secured to them by the Constitution and laws of the United States — that is, the right to vote, and to have one’s vote counted.”
The indictment makes it clear that then Vice President Pence is a key witness in the case. For the first time it was revealed that Pence took extensive, contemporaneous notes which will lend significantly to his credibility as a witness testifying on the stand.
The indictment states in part:
“After it became public on the afternoon of January 6 that the vice president would not fraudulently alter the election results, a large and angry crowd — including many individuals whom the defendant had deceived into believing the vice president could and might change the election results — violently attacked the Capitol and halted the proceeding.”
The indictment gives a detail account of what happened on January 6 and alleges Trump watched the violence unfolding on television, and ignored pleas to unequivocally condemn the violence. The grand jury did not indict Trump on any specific charges related to inciting an insurrection. The Department of Justice has accused more than 1,000 peopleof violating the law with their actions on January 6. However the charges against Trump mark the first federal prosecution concerning the multiple ways Trump and his allies allegedly attempted to keep him in office despite losing the election.
The link to read the full 49 page federal indictment is here:
TRUMP AND PENCE REACTION TO INDICTMENT
The Trump campaign said in a statement that the indictment was “the latest corrupt chapter in the continued pathetic attempt by the Biden Crime Family and their weaponized Department of Justice to interfere with the 2024 Presidential Election.” Trump’s campaign questioned why it took “two and a half years” to bring the charges, during the presidential campaign. It also claimed that Trump “always followed the law… with advice from many highly accomplished attorneys.”
Pence released a statement saying: “Today’s indictment serves as an important reminder: anyone who puts himself over the Constitution should never be President of the United States … The former president is entitled to the presumption of innocence but with this indictment, his candidacy means more talk about January 6th and more distractions.”
Links to quoted news sources are here:
The indictment against Trump is the second sought by Smith in recent weeks. Trump is facing 37 federal felony counts related to his alleged mishandling of sensitive government documents retrieved from his South Florida residence, Mar-a-Lago, after he left the White House. Trump pleaded not guilty to all charges, which include conspiracy, obstruction and willfully retaining national defense information.
In addition to the two federal prosecutions, a Manhattan grand jury has indicted Trump on 34 felony counts related to alleged hush-money payments made to adult film star Story Daniels before the 2016 presidential election. The trial in that case is scheduled to begin in March. New York’s attorney general has brought a separate civil case against Trump and the Trump company’s with a trial set to begin in October.
Trump is also facing possible charges from the Fulton County, Georgia, prosecutor who has been investigating efforts to reverse the outcome of the presidential election in the state.
STATMENT BY SPECIAL COUNSEL
On August 1 after release of the indictment, Special Counsel Jack Smith held press conference to read a statement and he took no questions. The statement read in part:
“… Today, an indictment was unsealed charging Donald J. Trump with conspiring to defraud the United States, conspiring to disenfranchise voters, and conspiring and attempting to obstruct an official proceeding. The indictment was issued by a grand jury of citizens here in the District of Columbia and sets forth the crimes charged in detail. I encourage everyone to read it in full.
The attack on our nation’s capital on January 6, 2021, was an unprecedented assault on the seat of American democracy. 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, the nation’s process of collecting, counting, and certifying the results of the presidential election.
The men and women of law enforcement who defended the U.S. Capitol on January 6 are heroes. They’re patriots, and they are the very best of us. They did not just defend a building or the people sheltering in it. They put their lives on the line to defend who we are as a country and as a people. They defended the very institutions and principles that define the United States.
Since the attack on our Capitol, the Department of Justice has remained committed to ensuring accountability for those criminally responsible for what happened that day. This case is brought consistent with that commitment, and our investigation of other individuals continues.
In this case, my office will seek a speedy trial so that our evidence can be tested in court and judged by a jury of citizens. In the meantime, I must emphasize that the indictment is only an allegation and that the defendant must be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.”
The link to read the full statement is here:
On August 3, former President Donald Trump turned himself in and appeared in a federal courtroom for his arraignment on the 4 felony charges accusing him of trying to overturn the 2020 election results, pleading not guilty in the latest case brought by special counsel Jack Smith. Before he was arraigned, he was fingerprinted but no mug shot was taken in that it was deemed unnecessary by the federal marshal given the fact he is one of the most photographed persons in the world.
The arraignment got underway shortly after 4 p.m. and Trump stood to be sworn in, stating his name and age as being 77. Judge Moxila Upadhyaya formally read the charges and reminded him of his rights. He said he understood, and entered his plea of “not guilty.” Special Counsel Jack Smith was present for the hearing and it was the second time he and Trump have come face to face in a federal courtroom.
The judge agreed to release Trump under the conditions that he not violate federal law and appear in court when required. He is also barred from discussing the facts of the case with any potential witnesses, except through attorneys. The arraignment lasted about a half an hour. The next hearing is set for August 28 before federal judge Tanya Chutkan, an Obama appointee who was randomly chosen to preside over Trump’s newest case and who has handled a number of the cases brought against those involved with the January 6 insurrection.
After the arraignment, and at the airport before he departed, Trump spoke briefly to reporters on the tarmac. He reiterated much of what he has said for months insisting President Biden and his allies are trying to damage him politically. Trump said this:
“A very sad day for America. … And it was also very sad driving through Washington, D.C., and seeing the filth and the decay and all of the broken buildings and walls and the graffiti. This is not the place that I love. It’s a very sad thing to see. … When you look at what’s happening, this is a persecution of a political opponent. … This was never supposed to happen in America. This is the persecution of the person that’s leading by very, very substantial numbers in the Republican primary and leading Biden by a lot. So if you can’t beat him, you persecute him or you prosecute him. We can’t let this happen in America. Thank you very much.”
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
Anyone who has any concern for our democracy, needs to read the indictment to understand the scope and the gravity of the crimes he is charged with. What is truly shocking is the breath taking and overwhelming amount of the evidence presented against Trump in the indictment itself and the lengths he and others went to stop the peaceful transition of power and to essentially overthrow our government.
What is truly disgusting is the extent the Republican Party and its leadership continue to support Trump refusing to accept he is a danger to our national security and to our democracy. From all the polls, Trump is the clear front runner for the Republican nomination. His opponents flail around unable to break the strangle hold over the Republican Party which has essentially become his cult.
The sooner Trump is tried, convicted and sentence to jail for the crimes he has committed, the better. It will show that no one is above the law and Trump will finally be brought to the justice he so richly deserves.
The link to a related blog article is here: