Former President Donald Trump has been indicted by a federal grand jury for his involvement in the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, which aimed to stop the certification of President Joe Biden’s election victory.
The indictment, announced by special counsel Jack Smith on Tuesday, charges Trump with four counts of conspiracy and obstruction, alleging that he orchestrated a “scheme to defraud the United States” by spreading false claims of election fraud, pressuring state and federal officials, convening fake slates of electors, and inciting the violent assault on the Capitol.
The indictment also identifies six unnamed co-conspirators, who are believed to be Trump’s allies and associates, including lawyers, former Justice Department officials, and political consultants.
The charges are the most serious legal threat yet to Trump, who has dismissed the investigation as a “witch hunt” and a “fake indictment”. He has been summoned to appear in court on Thursday.
Smith, a former federal prosecutor appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland in March, said in a statement that Trump’s actions were “unprecedented in American history” and “fueled by lies“.
“The defendant’s scheme was intended to undermine public confidence in the integrity of the election and to prevent the peaceful transfer of power,” Smith said.
The indictment details how Trump and his co-conspirators used various tactics to try to overturn the election results in key swing states that he lost to Biden, such as Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
Some of The Tactics They Used
- Making false and misleading statements to the public and the media about widespread voter fraud and voting machine manipulation, despite having no evidence and being contradicted by state and federal officials.
- Contacting state officials and lawmakers directly or through intermediaries to pressure them to delay or reject the certification of the election results, or to appoint alternative slates of electors loyal to Trump.
- Filing lawsuits and pursuing legal strategies that were baseless, frivolous, or contrary to the law, such as trying to leverage Vice President Mike Pence’s ceremonial role in certifying the electoral votes.
- Organizing and promoting rallies and protests that culminated in the violent assault on the Capitol on January 6, where Trump’s supporters tried to stop Congress from certifying Biden’s victory.
The indictment says that Trump’s scheme was motivated by his “determination to remain in power” and his “personal interest in avoiding potential civil and criminal liability” after leaving office.
The charges against Trump carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each count. But, legal experts say that it is unlikely that he will face such a harsh sentence if convicted.
Trump is also facing two other criminal cases: one in New York for allegedly mishandling classified files related to his business dealings, and another in Florida for allegedly paying hush money to a porn star who claimed to have had an affair with him.