Another day, another indictment against Donald Trump as a special counsel brings charges concerning the January 6 riots in the nation’s capital. The former President claims it’s a witch hunt, positioning himself as the front-runner for the White House.
Trump contested the 2020 election results, alleging mail-in ballot fraud, and orchestrated a plot to overturn the outcome by installing pro-Trump electors. He pressured Vice President Mike Pence to validate these electors. The Department of Justice initiated a probe in January 2022, expanding it to cover January 6. In November 2022, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Jack Smith to lead a special counsel investigation into both the January 6 events and Trump’s handling of government documents.
On August 1, 2023, a grand jury indicted Trump in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on four charges: conspiracy to defraud the United States, obstructing an official proceeding related to the certification of the January 6, 2021 election results, conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against rights. The indictment includes six unnamed co-conspirators. It marks Trump’s third indictment and the first indictment against a U.S. president during their tenure.
Special Counsel Jack Smith conveyed the following:
Today, we unseal an indictment 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, issued by a District of Columbia grand jury, meticulously details the charges. I urge everyone to read it in full.
The assault on our nation’s capital on January 6, 2021, was an unparalleled attack on the core of American democracy. As outlined in the indictment, it was fueled by falsehoods propagated by the defendant to hinder a fundamental function of the U.S. government: the process of gathering, tallying, and certifying presidential election results.
The courageous law enforcement officers who safeguarded the U.S. Capitol on January 6 are heroes and exemplars of patriotism. Their dedication went beyond safeguarding a building or its occupants. They risked their lives to defend the essence of our country and its values. They shielded the very institutions and principles that define the United States.
Following the Capitol incident, the Department of Justice remains steadfast in ensuring accountability for those responsible for the events of that day. This case aligns with that commitment, and our investigation into other individuals continues.
In this instance, my office will strive for a swift trial, allowing our evidence to be examined in court and evaluated by a jury of citizens. Meanwhile, it’s vital to stress that the indictment represents an allegation, and the defendant must be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
According to the indictment, on December 8, 2020, a senior campaign advisor admitted that “our research and campaign legal team can’t back up any of the claims… It’s tough to own any of this when it’s all just conspiracy shit beamed down from the mothership.” On January 1, Trump learned that Mike Pence did not believe the vice president could reject electoral votes. Trump called Pence and told him, “You’re too honest.” On January 3, it is alleged that White House deputy counsel Patrick F. Philbin told “Co-conspirator No. 4” — likely Jeffrey Clark — that if Trump held onto power, there would be “riots in every major city in the United States,” to which he replied, “Well, Pat, that’s why there’s an Insurrection Act.” The indictment also described a previously unreported discussion between Trump and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone. Cipollone advised Trump, hours after the Capitol riot started, to drop his objections to the election. Trump refused.
The indictment refers to six co-conspirators, whose likely identities have been deduced by various news agencies based on publicly known information.