An indictment was handed down today against former President Donald Trump on charges he conspired to defraud the country and attempted to prevent the peaceful transfer of presidential power to Joe Biden.
The indictment was handed down two weeks after Trump announced that he’d been notified he received a target letter in the probe led by special counsel Jack Smith, who brought charges against the former president last month in a separate case over Trump’s handling of classified documents after leaving office.
While the charges in the new indictment were not immediately revealed, two attorneys with direct knowledge of the matter told NBC News that Trump’s target letter cited three federal statutes related to the deprivation of rights, conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and obstruction.
Shortly after it became public news that the indictment had been handed down, it became available in its entirety of 45 pages, on the following link: https://www.politico.com/f/?id=00000189-b2ee-dee7-a7ab-faffe6790000.
The opening statement reads:
“Despite having lost, the defendant was determined to stay in power. So, for more than two months following election day Nov. 3, 2020, the Defendant spread lies that there had been outcome-determinate fraud in the election and that he had actually won. These claims were false, and the Defendant knew that they were false….”
Trump called the indictment “fake” in a post on his social media website shortly before news of the filing was made public. In the past weeks he has been reiterating on his social platform Truth Social, that in all his actions he had consulted with, and followed advice by lawyers. Pundits on CNN interpret this as a peek into his future strategy, to shift any blame to them in order to declare himself innocent.
Trump has further cried: “Why didn’t they do this 2.5 years ago? Why did they wait so long? Because they wanted to put it right in the middle of my campaign. Prosecutorial Misconduct!” his Truth Social post said.
Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing over his actions after the 2020 election, blasting Smith as “corrupt” and labeling the investigation as “election interference.” Trump launched his 2024 presidential bid in November, after the Justice Department had already been investigating his ties to the violence that took place at the U.S. Capitol during the presidential vote count on Jan. 6.
In a message today on Truth Social he compared the Department of Justice to the Gestapo and called Jack Smith “a thug”. This is not the first time that the former president has reacted with insults that should be beyond the pale and that severely undermine American democracy. In January 2023 he described the FBI as the “Gestapo,” additionally describing the federal law enforcement agency as “Trump hating Marxist thugs.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Smith as special counsel in November to determine “whether any person or entity unlawfully interfered with the transfer of power following the 2020 presidential election or the certification of the Electoral College vote held on or about January 6, 2021.”
Grand jurors heard testimony from dozens of witnesses in the wide-ranging investigation, including former Vice President Mike Pence.
Donald Trump is to appear in court on Thursday.
Multiple commentators have pointed out that the event is unprecedented and that it is a sad day for the country.