By Janice Hisle
Former President Donald Trump has been indicted on a third set of felony charges relating to the events of Jan. 6, 2021, even as he presses ahead with his third presidential run.
According to the indictment, Trump was indicted on four federal charges arising out of a probe by Special Counsel Jack Smith: conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against rights.
This is the second indictment arising from Mr. Smith’s investigation. The former president is separately facing 40 counts relating to the alleged retention of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.
The Trump campaign responded to the new indictment, describing it as a politically motivated attack.
“This is nothing more than the latest corrupt chapter in the continued pathetic attempt by the Biden Crime Family and their weaponized Department of Justice to interfere with the 2024 Presidential Election, in which President Trump is the undisputed frontrunner, and leading by substantial margins,” a Trump campaign spokesperson said in an email.
“But why did they wait two and a half years to bring these fake charges, right in the middle of President Trump’s winning campaign for 2024? Why was it announced the day after the big Crooked Joe Biden scandal broke out from the Halls of Congress?”
Washington is Not Trump Country
The Jan. 6 case against Mr. Trump presents the prospect of a particularly hostile jury pool if the case remains in Washington. There, nearly 77 percent of registered voters are Democrats; just 5 percent are Republicans, voter registration statistics show.
Many Jan. 6 defendants tried to get their trials moved elsewhere, asserting that supporters of Mr. Trump would not get a fair trial in Washington. But judges denied those requests. Among the Jan. 6 cases that went to trial, just two ended with acquittals on all charges; both of those cases were decided by a judge, not a jury.
In his July 18 Truth Social post, Mr. Trump said he found it “interesting” that the notice of the imminent charges came on July 16, a Sunday night. That was less than 24 hours after he delivered a Florida speech where he advocated that the federal government assume control of “a filthy, unsanitary, neglected and crime-ridden Washington, D.C.”
Yet, Mr. Trump said, that’s the location where Mr. Biden’s Department of Justice (DOJ) wants his trial to be held, “all because they think, especially after my strong words of a federal takeover at the speech, a D.C. jury will do whatever they [people in power] want.”
All three prosecutions of Mr. Trump have come in the thick of his third run for the U.S. presidency, and a grand jury is at work in Georgia on a possible fourth indictment. That case revolves around Mr. Trump’s dispute over his 2020 election loss in that state.
Mr. Trump asserts that he was exercising his constitutional right “to protest an election that I am fully convinced was rigged and stolen, just as the Democrats have done against me in 2016, and many others have done over the ages,” his July 18 Truth Social Post said.
He alleged that “weaponized” federal agencies have refused to investigate election “cheaters.” Instead, the Department of Justice and FBI “target and harass those who complain about the cheaters,” Mr. Trump wrote.
All the criminal cases lodged against Mr. Trump involve situations that occurred several years ago but are emerging now amid his 2024 campaign. Thus, Mr. Trump and his allies allege that these prosecutions amount to election interference.
“The Democrat prosecutors waited years to bring charges so that they could interfere with the 2024 presidential election,” Mr. Trump wrote in a Truth Social post on July 19 in anticipation of the latest indictment. “They are getting, however, big blowback!”
But Mr. Trump’s detractors say he deserves the scrutiny and should be held accountable for wrongdoing they believe he committed. His harshest critics allege that he summoned his “mob” of supporters to Washington on Jan. 6 to “overthrow” the government.
‘In The Public Interest’
The latest indictment of Mr. Trump comes eight months after Mr. Smith was appointed to investigate the former president on two fronts.
In June, Mr. Smith secured an indictment for Mr. Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified records. The FBI seized those materials in an unprecedented raid of the former president’s home in August 2022.
The Biden Administration’s top prosecutorial official, Attorney General Merrick Garland, appointed Mr. Smith as special counsel on Nov. 18, 2022, three days after Mr. Trump announced his third run for the presidency.
At the time, Mr. Garland acknowledged that Mr. Trump’s candidacy served as an impetus for the appointment of Mr. Smith.
“Based on recent developments, including the former president’s announcement that he is a candidate for president in the next election, and the sitting president’s stated intention to be a candidate as well, I have concluded that it is in the public interest to appoint a special counsel,” Mr. Garland stated when he appointed Mr. Smith.
Regardless, Mr. Trump’s detractors insist the investigations are justified; Mr. Biden has denied influencing federal authorities’ actions against Mr. Trump.
Mr. Trump maintains his innocence. In April, he pleaded not guilty to his first indictment for alleged violations of New York business records laws in 2017. In June, he pleaded not guilty to federal charges relating to his handling of classified records after he left the White House in 2021.
Despite Mr. Trump’s growing legal perils, he has forged ahead with campaign events.
On June 18, the same day Mr. Trump revealed the looming indictment, he participated in an Iowa town hall forum with voters and Fox News host Sean Hannity.
On July 19, Mr. Trump hosted a screening of the surprise blockbuster anti-child-trafficking movie, “The Sound of Freedom,” at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J.
On July 20, his campaign released a new, one-minute video advertisement. Shot in stark black-and-white, a stone-faced Mr. Trump strides purposefully along a corridor. Audio of Mr. Trump’s voice plays; he states: “This is the final battle.”
“With you at my side, we will demolish the Deep State. We will expel the warmongers from our government. We will drive out the globalists, we will cast out the communists, Marxists, and fascists,” he says, as sounds of a crowd cheering in the background swell.
“We will throw off the sick political class that hates our country. We will rout the fake news media, and we will liberate America from these villains, once and for all.”
The video ends with dramatic music as the words, “Join President Trump’s fight for America,” appear in white on a black screen.
In revealing the imminent indictment, Mr. Trump asserted that he has endured multiple “hoaxes and scams made up to stop me from fighting for the American people–but I will never stop!”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.