Filing: Trump and supporters encouraged violence in Detroit to subvert 2020 election

Pro-Trump protesters disrupted absentee vote counting at Detroit’s TCF Center in 2020. (Ken Coleman/Michigan Advance)

By Michigan Advance

December 6, 2023

BY ANNA LIZ NICHOLS, MICHIGAN ADVANCE

Special Counsel Jack Smith submitted the government’s plans to introduce evidence to outline the actions taken by former President Donald Trump and his supporters to violently and criminally undermine the 2020 election process and attempt to keep Trump in office “at any cost”, referencing a protest at Detroit’s TCF Center on election day.

The court filing submitted Tuesday is part of the case against Trump for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol to illustrate a history of actions where he embraced violent outcomes that speak to his intentions in inspiring the attack, Smith wrote.

The prosecution said in the filing that it plans to showcase many public statements made by Trump ahead of the 2020 election, including knowingly and falsely saying there would be fraud, in an attempt to stay in power through deceit.

The filing also said that evidence will even date back to 2012 when Trump made public claims against the integrity of the election and then again in 2016 when he first ran for president himself claiming widespread fraud before he won.

But the prospective evidence will also include details that weren’t so publicly available and that Smith says ties Trump to acts of violence.

The special counsel said an “unindicted co-conspirator” who worked on Trump’s campaign messaged an attorney in support of the Trump campaign at the TCF Center in Detroit after votes were cast, urging those present to riot and obstruct the counting of votes

A crowd of mostly white GOP activists chanted “Stop the Count” at election workers while votes in Detroit, a majority-Black city, were being counted. The next day, civil rights leaders in the state gathered to condemn those who came to protest and yell at workers saying the group implemented “terror tactics” in order to silence Black voters.

Another incident prosecutors are putting forward for trial is when they say Trump and a co-conspirator took to Twitter in 2021 to attack the former chief counsel to the Republican National Committee (RNC) for publicly stating the truth about the presidential elections results and dissenting against Trump’s “Big Lie” that the election was stolen.

The filing says further, “At trial the government will introduce evidence of this conduct – including the defendant’s public endorsement and encouragement of violence – and further will elicit testimony from witnesses about the threats and harassment they received after the defendant targeted them in relation to the 2020 election.”

Specific note is made that evidence will be introduced including Trump telling the Proud Boys, listed as an extremist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, to “stand back and stand by”, when he was asked to denounce the group during the September 2020 presidential debate.

Trump’s continued support of those involved with the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol shows Trump’s embrace of violence and willingness to use illegal means to achieve his ends, the special counsel’s filing said.

In all, Trump is facing 91 felony counts in four criminal proceedings. Two cases are federal, brought after investigations by Smith. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg brought the first indictment against Trump, charging him in New York state court. The most recent prosecution, in Georgia state court, is being led by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.

READ MORE: We read 50 days of Trump’s Truth Social posts so you didn’t have to

This coverage was republished from Michigan Advance pursuant to a Creative Commons license.

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CATEGORIES: ELECTION | POLITICS

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