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Tuesday, August 1st, 2023

Donald Trump indicted again — this time, finally, for assaulting American democracy

Today, the prayers, hopes, and wish­es of mil­lions of Amer­i­cans long­ing for account­abil­i­ty and jus­tice in the wake of the Jan­u­ary 6th insur­rec­tion were answered when a grand jury indict­ed Don­ald Trump for per­pe­trat­ing mul­ti­ple crim­i­nal con­spir­a­cies against the Unit­ed States and U.S. democracy.

The indict­ment is the result of care­ful, method­i­cal work by Spe­cial Coun­sel Jack Smith and many hard­work­ing inves­ti­ga­tors at the Depart­ment of Jus­tice, who have labored to ensure that the work done to expose what hap­pened on Jan­u­ary 6th did­n’t mere­ly pass into his­to­ry as a report, but led to charges. They built on the indis­pens­able work of the Select Com­mit­tee to Inves­ti­gate the Jan­u­ary 6th Attack on the Unit­ed States Capi­tol, chaired by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ben­nie Thompson.

Action is once again being tak­en to hold Don­ald Trump account­able for his crimes. That is huge­ly wel­come and reas­sur­ing news. This is the third time that Trump has been indict­ed, and it prob­a­bly won’t be the last, either, with charges like­ly com­ing soon in Geor­gia as a result of DA Ful­ton’s inves­ti­ga­tion there.

This indict­ment, charged by a grand jury in the Unit­ed States Dis­trict Court for the Dis­trict of Colum­bia, runs forty-five pages, and includes four counts.

The counts con­sist of con­spir­a­cy to defraud the Unit­ed States, con­spir­a­cy to obstruct an offi­cial pro­ceed­ing, obstruc­tion of and attempt to obstruct an offi­cial pro­ceed­ing, and con­spir­a­cy against rights. These are all vio­la­tions of 18 U.S.C.

Trump falsely claims the election was stolen

Still from a video released by Don­ald Trump’s regime dur­ing the mid­dle of the attack on the Capi­tol, in which he false­ly claimed “the elec­tion was stolen”

“The Defen­dant lost the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion,” the indict­ment notes in its introduction.

“Despite hav­ing lost, the Defen­dant was deter­mined to remain in pow­er. So for more than two months fol­low­ing elec­tion day on Novem­ber 3, 2020, the Defen­dant 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 that they were false. But the Defen­dant repeat­ed and wide­ly dis­sem­i­nat­ed them any­way — to make his know­ing­ly false claims appear legit­i­mate, cre­ate an intense nation­al atmos­phere of mis­trust and anger, and erode pub­lic faith in the admin­is­tra­tion of the election.”

The indict­ment charges that Trump “did know­ing­ly com­bine, con­spire, con­fed­er­ate, and agree with co-con­spir­a­tors, known and unknown to the Grand Jury, to defraud the Unit­ed States by using dis­hon­esty, fraud, and deceit to impair, obstruct, and defeat the law­ful fed­er­al gov­ern­ment func­tion by which the results of the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion are col­lect­ed, count­ed, and cer­ti­fied by the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment.” Six co-con­spir­a­tors are men­tioned in count one, but not by name.

The pur­pose of the con­spir­a­cy, as we all know, “was to over­turn the legit­i­mate results of the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion by using know­ing­ly false claims of elec­tion fraud to obstruct the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment func­tion by which those results are col­lect­ed, count­ed, and cer­ti­fied.” The man­ner and means includ­ed the orga­ni­za­tion of fraud­u­lent slates of pres­i­den­tial elec­tors in sev­en states — Ari­zona, Geor­gia, Michi­gan, Neva­da, New Mex­i­co, Penn­syl­va­nia, and Wis­con­sin — which were all states that Trump’s oper­a­tion had some expec­ta­tion of win­ning, but which vot­ed for the Demo­c­ra­t­ic tick­et of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

The indict­ment recounts how Trump tried to coerce Mike Pence into fraud­u­lent­ly alter­ing the elec­tion results by act­ing out­side the scope of his con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly-pre­scribed role, and how that led to the Jan­u­ary 6th insurrection.

It cites, as part of its body of evi­dence, Trump’s infa­mous state­ment that he “need­ed to ‘find’ 11,780 votes,” which was made dur­ing a phone call with Geor­gia’s Repub­li­can Sec­re­tary of State, Brad Raf­fensperg­er, who record­ed it.

“What I want to do is this. I just want to find, uh, 11,780 votes, which is one more than [the 11,779 vote mar­gin of defeat] we have, because we won the state,” Trump can be heard say­ing in the record­ed phone call.

The Trump-incit­ed assault on the Unit­ed States Capi­tol is repeat­ed­ly men­tioned through­out the indict­ment, and is prop­er­ly char­ac­ter­ized as an attack, rather than as a “riot” — the improp­er term that some mass media out­lets such as The Asso­ci­at­ed Press have been inap­pro­pri­ate­ly using in their Jan­u­ary 6th coverage.

The case has been assigned to U.S. Dis­trict Court Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, who is thank­ful­ly not a Trump appointee. And since it’s being pros­e­cut­ed in the Dis­trict Court for the Dis­trict of Colum­bia, Trump won’t have a favor­able jury pool that he and his lack­eys can lean on to increase the odds of an acquittal.

With­in days, we will see an arraign­ment pro­ceed­ing, and then the Depart­ment of Jus­tice and Trump’s legal defense team will begin spar­ring over pro­ce­dur­al mat­ters. That phase of the case might drag on for a while. We can’t say at this junc­ture when there will be a tri­al in Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca v. Don­ald Trump.

But today, at least, we can say that Don­ald Trump has final­ly been charged in con­nec­tion with the vio­lence of Jan­u­ary 6th and his assault on our democ­ra­cy. This is a cru­cial­ly impor­tant and nec­es­sary moment for our republic.

Read the indict­ment in its entirety:

Third indict­ment of Don­ald Trump

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