Trump indicted over attempts to overturn 2020 election

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DONALD Trump was indicted on Tuesday for his wide-ranging attempts to overturn the 2020 election, the third time in four months that the former U.S. president has been criminally charged even as he campaigns to regain the presidency next year.

The four-count, 45-page indictment charges Republican Trump with conspiring to defraud the U.S. by preventing Congress from certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s victory and to deprive voters of their right to a fair election.

Then-President Trump pushed fraud claims he knew to be untrue, pressured state and federal officials – including Vice President Mike Pence – to alter the results and finally incited a violent assault on the U.S. Capitol in a desperate attempt to undermine American democracy and cling to power, prosecutors said.

Trump was ordered to make an initial appearance in federal court in Washington on Thursday. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who was appointed by Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama.

The charges stem from Special Counsel Jack Smith’s sprawling investigation into allegations Trump sought to reverse his loss to Biden. Despite a dizzying and growing array of legal troubles, Trump has solidified his status as the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, according to public opinion polls.

Weeks of assertions that the election had been stolen culminated in a fiery Trump speech on Jan. 6, 2021, as Congress met to certify the results. Soon after, his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in a bid to stop Congress from formalizing Biden’s victory.

In a brief statement to reporters, Smith placed the blame for the violence squarely on Trump’s shoulders.

“The attack on our nation’s Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was an unprecedented assault on the seat of American democracy. As described in the indictment, it was fueled by lies – lies by the defendant, targeted at obstructing the bedrock function of the U.S. government,” Smith said.

More than 1,000 people have been arrested in connection with the attack.

PHONY SLATE OF ELECTORS

Trump and others organized fraudulent slates of electors in seven states, all of which he lost, to be certified as official by Congress on Jan. 6, the indictment said.

The indictment lays out numerous examples of Trump’s election falsehoods and notes that close advisers, including senior intelligence officials, told him repeatedly that the results were legitimate.

“These claims were false, and the defendant knew that they were false,” prosecutors wrote.

When the push to certify the fake electors failed, Trump sought to pressure Vice President Mike Pence not to allow certification of the election to go forward, and took advantage of the chaos outside the Capitol to do so, according to prosecutors. During the violence, Trump rebuffed calls from his advisers to issue a calming message.

“The Defendant attempted to use a crowd of supporters that he had gathered in Washington, D.C. to pressure the Vice President to fraudulently alter the election results,” the indictment reads.

In a statement, the Trump campaign said he had always followed the law and characterized the indictment as a “persecution” reminiscent of Nazi Germany.

“President Trump will not be deterred by disgraceful and unprecedented political targeting!” it added. Later Tuesday, Trump’s campaign sent out a fundraising email referencing the indictment.

The indictment also includes six unnamed co-conspirators who have not been charged.

Based on the descriptions, they appear to include Trump’s former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who called state lawmakers in the weeks following the 2020 election to pressure them not to certify their states’ results; former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, who tried to get himself installed as attorney general so he could launch voter fraud investigations in Georgia and other swing states; and attorney John Eastman, who advanced the erroneous legal theory that Pence could block the electoral certification.

– REUTERS