US federal prosecutors indicted former President Donald Trump on four criminal charges Tuesday in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s federal investigation into interference with the 2020 presidential election. Trump faces four obstruction charges for his role in attempting to overturn the 2020 election results.
The 45-page indictment accuses the former president of “pursu[ing] unlawful means of discounting legitimate votes and subverting the election results.” Specifically, the indictment alleges that Trump knowingly perpetrated three criminal conspiracies in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election:
- Conspiring to defraud the US through dishonesty, fraud and deceit in an effort to impair, obstruct and defeat the process by which votes are collected, counted and certified by the federal government;
- Conspiring to corruptly obstruct and impede the US Congress in their effort to collect, count and certify election results on January 6, 2021; and
- Conspiring against US citizens’ right to vote and to have that vote count.
The indictment says Trump carried out these conspiracies by first targeting states’ efforts to carry out the 2020 presidential election by appointing false slates of electors in seven swing states. When that effort failed, Trump enlisted former Vice President Mike Pence to use his—traditionally ceremonial—role at the January 6, 2021 proceedings to certify the 2020 presidential election results before the US Congress. When that effort also failed, the indictment alleges that Trump then rallied his supporters and “directed them to the Capitol to obstruct the certification proceeding and exert pressure on [Pence] to take the fraudulent actions he had previously refused.” When that too failed, amidst all of the violence that occurred on January 6, 2021 at the US Capitol, Trump reached out to individual members of Congress to delay the certification.
Crucial to Smith’s success in obtaining a conviction on these obstruction charges is proving Trump had the requisite mindset in committing these actions. The indictment references evidence that supports Smith’s assertion that Trump had the requisite criminal mindset. This evidence includes accounts of how Trump administration officials and people close to Trump repeatedly told him that there was no evidence of election fraud in the 2020 presidential election while Trump was making election fraud claims in the months after.
According to the indictment, “Each of these conspiracies … targeted a bedrock function of the United States federal government,” certifying the 2020 presidential election. The indictment echoes many of the facts and allegations made during the US House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol’s public hearings and final report, which was released in December 2022.
Trump continues to assert that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent. After the indictment’s release, Trump wrote on his social media platform Truth Social, “This is nothing more than the latest corrupt chapter in the continued pathetic attempt by the Biden [administration] … to interfere with the 2024 Presidential Election, in which President Trump” is the leading Republican candidate.
Smith spoke about the indictment at a brief press conference on Tuesday as well. Smith said, “Since the attack on our Capitol, the Department of Justice has remained committed to ensuring accountability for those criminally responsible for what happened that day. This case is brought consistent with that commitment. And our investigation of other individuals continues.”
Six unnamed co-conspirators are also listed in the indictment. Multiple US media sources have tentatively identified five of them as lawyers directly or indirectly connected with the ex-President: former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani (Co-Conspirator 1), law professor and former Trump lawyer John Eastman (Co-Conspirator 2), former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell (Co-Conspirator 3), former US Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark (Co-Conspirator 4), and pro-Trump lawyer Kenneth Chesebro (Co-Conspirator 5). As of the time of this report, none of the co-conspirators have been charged in connection with this case.
This indictment now joins the two other criminal indictments Trump faces in both a federal court in Florida as well as a New York state court. It is expected that Fulton County Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis will soon announce an additional indictment against Trump, also pertaining to his role in 2020 election interference.