Legal experts believe that Trump is almost certain to face imminent indictment again.
Ahmed Baba, The Independent
The former president of the United States, who took an oath to uphold the Constitution, could be imminently indicted for seeking to destroy it. Department of Justice Special Counsel Jack Smith has sent a target letter to Donald Trump in his probe of the plot to overturn the 2020 election. This has been confirmed by multiple news outlets citing law enforcement sources and Trump’s own unhinged Truth Social posts on Tuesday. Trump said he was given four days’ notice to testify before the DC Grand Jury. The sentiment is widespread among legal experts that this means Trump is almost certainly about to face imminent indictment, again. This would be Trump’s third, and most damning, indictment thus far.
The target letter reportedly named potential charges that include conspiracy to commit an offense or defraud the US, deprivation of rights, and tampering with a witness. These charges would be consistent with what was uncovered by the January 6 Committee in their riveting series of hearings we covered last year. Trump’s conduct was laid bare in compelling fashion for the world to see. The committee’s repetition of the sequence of events is seared in my memory: Trump knowingly spread election lies to justify his plot; pressured state officials to submit fake electors; pressured the DOJ to declare election results corrupt; pressured Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to certify the results; then used violence as a tool on January 6.
The January 6 Committee’s hearings culminated in the recommendation of obstruction of an official proceeding, inciting an insurrection, conspiracy to make a false statement, and conspiracy to defraud the government charges. They also used a ruling from Judge Carter to bolster their recommendation. Last March, Judge Carter ruled that Trump and his former lawyer John Eastman “more likely than not” committed obstruction and conspiracy in their bid to obstruct Congress’s ability to count the electoral votes in the 2020 election.
Attorney General Merrick Garland handed over the DOJ’s insurrection investigation to the special counsel last November. Now, less than a year after taking the probe over, Jack Smith has a buffet of charges to choose from. We know the special counsel has had even more access to witnesses than the January 6 Committee did, and likely has significantly more evidence. We could soon see a sprawling conspiracy charge that puts Trump at the center of a plot to overthrow American democracy with a trial date that could land right in the middle of his 2024 campaign. The symbolic nature of this couldn’t be more on the nose if you put democracy itself on trial.
If this was the only charge Trump faced, it would be bad enough, but it’s not. Trump stands amid an avalanche of legal and civil troubles. Given the velocity and ferocity of these developments, it can be hard to keep track and easy to tune them out. This week alone was jam-packed with developments. So let’s take a quick look at the myriad of legal threats plaguing Trump that we should all be paying attention to.
The case: Last month, Donald Trump was hit with a 49-page, 37-count indictment for his theft and mishandling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. The charges include willful retention of national defense information, concealing documents in a federal investigation, false statements, and conspiracy to obstruct justice. In the aftermath of the indictment, an audio tape was released showcasing Trump allegedly exposing classified documents at his Bedminster Golf Club.
Latest developments: The case is currently in court with Florida Judge Aileen Cannon overseeing it. She’s been widely seen as controversial, given her past pro-Trump rulings. The latest moves in this case happened this week, with Judge Cannon signaling she would not grant the December 2023 trial date prosecutors are requesting, but at the same time not indicating she would agree to Trump lawyers’ requests to get the trial pushed beyond 2024. The impact: The classified documents case is also an incredibly damning case given it’s prosecuted under the Espionage Act. Aside from the potential jail time Trump would face if conviction, this case also spotlights Trump’s hypocrisy given his attacks on Hillary Clinton for using a private email server. If this case were to come up in 2024, it would put Trump’s record of national security liabilities into focus. It would also mean Trump could face more than two trials in 2024.
The case: In April, Trump was indicted on 34 counts of falsifying business records by Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg. The charges relate to 2016 hush money payments made to two women he allegedly had an affair with, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. There was also a third instance of hush money covered in the indictment related to a $30,000 payment to a Trump Tower doorman who was paid after claiming he had information about Trump having a child out of wedlock. Latest developments: The trial date for the hush money case is March 2024. In late June, Judge Alvin Hellerstein indicated that he would likely rule that the trial should stay in state court, showcasing a willingness to rebuff Trump lawyers’ requests to take it to federal court.
The impact: The March 2024 trial date will have a significant impact because it will be ongoing right in the middle of the 2024 GOP primary season and the same month as Super Tuesday. It will be a stark reminder of Trump’s infidelity to a party that claims to promote family values. The word “claims” is doing a lot of work there.
The case: In Georgia, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has been investigating Donald Trump and his allies’ plot to overturn the 2020 election. The grand jury investigation has been probing the multifaced plot including fake electors and a series of phone calls placed to Georgia officials, which includes Trump’s infamous phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger pressuring him to “find” just enough votes to declare him the winner in Georgia.
Latest developments: On Monday of this week, the Georgia Supreme Court denied Trump’s effort to shut down the Fulton County probe. There has been a flurry of legal moves from the DA, including garnering witness testimony and granting immunity to some in the fake elector plot. On Wednesday, we learned of a May subpoena of CCTV surveillance footage from the State Farm Arena on election night. This comes after the February public appearance of the grand jury’s foreperson claiming that they recommended charging more than a dozen people.
The impact: If Trump is also charged in Georgia, it would compound the Special Counsel’s January 6 indictment and put Trump’s anti-democratic nature in the spotlight.
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