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Donald Trump indicted for role in Jan. 6 Capitol riot

Special counsel Jack Smith leads the latest charges, which open up a new litigation front for the former president in Washington.

WASHINGTON (CN) — Donald Trump faces a slew of new federal charges after a federal grand jury indicted the former president for his role in the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Filed this time by a federal grand jury in Washington, the latest indictment comes as the 77-year-old Trump is already juggling criminal cases in New York and Florida, a separate criminal investigation in Georgia, and his 2024 campaign to regain the White House.

Before Trump, no former commander in chief in U.S. history had ever been criminally indicted. Trump's March indictment in New York on state charges set a new precedent, as did his federal indictment in Miami a short time later.

The latest indictment, unsealed Tuesday evening, brings four charges against Trump: conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, outright obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy against rights.

Trump's fourth charge stems from a Reconstruction-era statute that criminalizes any effort to deprive someone of a right or privilege protected by the Constitution. It was created in the wake of Ku Klux Klan members using intimidation and violence to keep Black people from voting.

The indictment outlines the monthslong effort by Trump and his allies beginning in late 2020 to spread doubts about the election. Prosecutors say they sought to block the certification of President Joe Biden's victory by creating a slew of false electors from swing states and using the Justice Department to conduct sham investigations of election fraud.

A central figure in the charges is Trump's former running mate and Vice President Mike Pence, who was called to testify before the federal grand jury in Washington, as was Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows and senior adviser Stephen Miller.

Ahead of the ceremony held by Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, to certify the 2020 election results, prosecutors say Trump pressured Pence to halt certification by way of his ceremonial role.

Trump has been ordered to appear in Washington before U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, an Obama appointee, on Aug. 3.

The indictment lists six unnamed co-conspirators, four of whom are described as attorneys who spread false claims about the 2020 election and helped devise the strategies to use false electors and manipulate Pence's role in the certification.

The two remaining co-conspirators are described as a Justice Department official and a political consultant who also had roles in the schemes.

While prosecutors did not identify these six individuals, the four attorneys' actions line up with those previously attributed to members of Trump's legal team: Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Sidney Powell and Jeffrey Clark.

In a statement Tuesday evening about the indictment, special counsel Jack Smith calling the insurrection that took place at the U.S. Capitol an unprecedented attack on the nation's democracy.

"[Jan. 6] 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 a presidential election," Smith said.

Five people were killed in the mayhem of the insurrection, while hundreds more were injured and millions of dollars worth of property was destroyed. Members of Congress fled the scene and reconvened the next day to certify that Trump had lost the 2020 election to his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland tasked Smith with probing Trump’s role in the Capitol riot in response to the historic criminal referrals that resulted from an investigation by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack. After completing their investigation in December 2022, the committee recommended referrals against Trump as well as Eastman.

Responding to his latest indictment Tuesday, Trump excoriated Smith and DOJ for what the statement called "election interference."

"These un-American witch hunts will fail and President Trump will be re-elected to the White House so he can save our Country from the abuse, incompetence and corruption that is running through the veins of our Country at levels never seen before," the former president said in a statement posted to TruthSocial.

Anticipation for what marks Trump's third indictment began to build on July 18 after Trump revealed on his social media site that he had received a target notice related to Smith's investigation. Trump predicted he would see "arrest and indictment."

In New York and in Florida, Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

Prosecutors in the Empire State have alleged that Trump falsified business records to cover up his reimbursement and compensation of his former attorney, Michael Cohen, for hush-money payments that purportedly kept adult film star Stormy Daniels and Playboy playmate Karen McDougal from making public statements about extramarital affairs.

In New York, Trump is set to go to trial on March 25, while presidential primaries are underway, about three weeks after Super Tuesday on March 5.

May 20 is the scheduled start of the federal trial in Florida where Trump is charged with mishandling classified documents after leaving the White House.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, whom Trump appointed in November 2020, is presiding in that case.

No charges have been filed yet against Trump in Georgia where Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is investigating pressure that Trump put on Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in the aftermath of the 2020 election.

Having lost the state to Biden, Trump asked Raffensperger to find “11,780” votes that would make him the winner.

On July 17, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Willis' probe could continue, finding that Trump had not proved the "extraordinary circumstances" required the court's intervention.

So far, at least, the buildup of criminal exposure has done little to dent Trump's base of support in the Republican Party. A July 18 Morning Consult poll shows Trump zooming away from his closest contender, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, leading him 55% to 20%.

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Categories / Criminal, National, Politics

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