‘Conspiracy to Defraud the United States’: Trump Indicted Again

FILE - This exhibit from video released by the House Select Committee, shows President Donald Trump recording a video statement on the afternoon of Jan. 6, 2021, from the Rose Garden, displayed at a hearing by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. (House Select Committee via AP, File)

By Keya Vakil

August 1, 2023

In response to being indicted for his attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election, Trump’s campaign called the charges “fake” and compared his plight to the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany.

Former president and 2024 Republican frontrunner Donald Trump has been charged with conspiring to defraud the United States for his attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, marking the third time Trump has been indicted this year.

Trump faces four counts total in the case, according to the 45-page indictment filed by Special Counsel Jack Smith and approved by a grand jury on Tuesday. The indictment charges Trump with three separate conspiracy charges and one obstruction charge: 

  • A conspiracy to defraud the United States by using dishonesty, fraud, and deceit to impair, obstruct, and defeat the lawful federal government function by which the results of the presidential election are collected, counted, and certified by the federal government.
  • A conspiracy to corruptly obstruct and impede the January 6 congressional proceeding at which the collected results of the presidential election are counted and certified. 
  • A conspiracy against the right to vote and to have one’s vote counted. 
  • Obstruction of, and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding (the certification of the electoral vote).

In a statement posted to Truth Social, Trump’s campaign called the charges “fake,” attacked the Biden administration, and compared being indicted to the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany.

The indictment cites Trump’s various attempts to try and overturn the election that he lost to Joe Biden, including his amplification of lies about voter fraud. Trump’s false claims about fraud included lies about voting machines flipping votes from Trump to Biden and large numbers of dead, non-resident, non-citizen, or otherwise ineligible voters casting ballots.

“These claims were false, and the defendant knew that they were false,” the indictment reads.

The indictment cites how Trump’s vice President Mike Pence, senior Trump Justice Department leaders, top White House lawyers, the director of National Intelligence, and allied state lawmakers in key swing states all told Trump there were no examples of widespread fraud. The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency also issued a statement noting there was zero evidence of any voting systems being compromised.

The indictment meticulously lays out Trump’s efforts to overturn the election through various means in key states like Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin. 

These “sham” attempts to subvert democracy included efforts to persuade state lawmakers to appoint fake electors who would hand Trump their state’s electoral ballots, Trump’s effort to wield the power of the Justice Department to aid in that effort, and his pressuring of Pence to “fraudulently alter the election results” on January 6.

Evidence of Trump’s role in the plot is extensive, and much of it was presented to the public during hearings held last summer by the US House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack. 

Trump’s actions helped “create an intense national atmosphere of mistrust and anger, and erode public faith in the administration of the election,” the indictment reads.

The indictment also highlights how Trump exploited the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6 to try and pressure Pence to overturn the election, noting that Trump’s own supporters chanted “Hang Mike Pence,”; “Where is Pence? Bring him out!”; and “Traitor Pence!”

While Pence was ultimately unscathed, the attack incited by Trump left five people dead and hundreds of police officers injured.

Six unnamed co-conspirators—a Trump Justice Department official, four attorneys who helped Trump with his schemes, and a political consultant—are also mentioned in the indictment. 

Tuesday’s charges mark the second time Trump has been indicted by the Special Counsel.

Trump faces 40 federal charges, including 32 counts of violating the Espionage Act, in relation to his mishandling of classified military and nuclear documents after he left the White House.

He has also been indicted in an unrelated case in New York, and could be indicted in another case in Georgia tied to his attempt to overturn his 2020 loss in that state.

These charges come as Trump continues to hold a commanding lead in the 2024 Republican presidential primary, a field with few candidates willing to directly criticize Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. 

His continued legal troubles, however, have hurt his standing with voters, with 62% believing he’s committed a crime, according to a June Navigator survey of 1,000 registered voters. The poll also found that 58% of voters believe Trump is unfit to serve as president again and that 63% believe Trump thinks he’s above the law.

 

Author

  • Keya Vakil

    Keya Vakil is the deputy political editor at COURIER. He previously worked as a researcher in the film industry and dabbled in the political world.

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