Former President Donald Trump was indicted on federal charges related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, a scheme which culminated in the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol by his supporters on Jan. 6, 2021
The indictment, the third criminal case brought against Trump as he seeks to reclaim the White House in 2024, follows a long-running investigation by special counsel Jack Smith into Trump’s actions regarding his claims of fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
Trump was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy against the rights of citizens, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding.
The indictment accuses Trump of orchestrating a “criminal scheme” to undermine the integrity of the election and the legitimacy of Biden’s presidency. According to the indictment, Trump spread false claims about voter fraud, attempted to use the Justice Department to pressure state and local officials to change or discard votes, organized fraudulent slates of electors in seven targeted states and sent false certificates to Congress. He also urged his vice president and members of Congress to block the certification of electoral votes. Trump faces 55 years in prison if he receives the maximum sentence for each charge.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing. His lawyers took to the press to mount a defense for the former president. Their defense focuses on the first amendment protections of Trump’s speech. They also called the indictment a political stunt based on the timing of its release.
“This is the first time that political speech has been criminalized in the history of the United States,” John Lauro, Trump’s lead attorney, said.
Jack Smith reported on six unnamed co-conspirators who are currently not indicted.
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