Federal And State Prosecutors Are Preparing To Indict Trump's Coup Plot
Rolling Stone reported last night that a source close to prosecutors in the January 6 investigation of Defendant Trump says that the target letter he received on Sunday listed at least three federal statutes that Special Counsel Jack Smith is considering in charging him.
One is conspiracy to defraud the United States, probably a charge of violating Section 371 of Title 18, which makes it a crime to defraud the government, punishable by five years in prison. Such a charge would probably include facts gathered by the grand jury that Defendant Trump conspired with lawyers, aides, and others in an effort to block certification of the Electoral College results by the Congress on January 6, 2021. The New York Times pointed out that a federal judge has already mentioned the high probability that Defendant Trump violated this statute in a case involving the emails of John Eastman, a lawyer who developed the scheme to get Vice President Pence to accept fake electoral ballots from battleground states and basically overturn the results of the election during the ballot certification process.
In his ruling allowing the House Select Committee on January 6 to have access to Eastman’s emails, Judge David Carter ruled, “The illegality of the plan was obvious. Our nation was founded on the peaceful transition of power, epitomized by George Washington laying down his sword to make way for democratic elections. Ignoring this history, President Trump vigorously campaigned for the vice president to single-handedly determine the results of the 2020 election.”
The second charge, according to Rolling Stone, is “deprivation of rights under color of law.” It is unclear which federal statute such a charge might involve. Rolling Stone’s source may have been imprecise in describing the nature of the charge. Sometimes sources relied upon by news organizations are not participants in the process involved, in this case, the formulation and wording of the target letter by lawyers working in the Department of Justice. Rather, the source could be a lower-level employee who heard secondhand from someone who saw the document, in this case the target letter, and is describing it to another person verbally. However, if the Rolling Stone source is correct about the nature of this charge, it could involve an interpretation of a more general federal statute that concerns depriving voters of the right to see that their votes are properly ascribed to the person they voted for through the process of crediting popular votes as electoral votes in the Electoral College.
The third charge, according to Rolling Stone, involves “tampering with a witness, victim, or informant.” There have been multiple reports out of the D.C. grand jury of witnesses going back second and even third times to testify, often to change their testimony. Defendant Trump’s co-defendant Walt Nauta is said to have paid at least a second visit to the grand jury to change his testimony about how he moved boxes around Mar-a-Lago once he had been either told about or shown video footage of him in action moving boxes. Of course, that example is from the documents case, but there have been other reports of the January 6 grand jury hearing changed testimony from witnesses such as Trump advisor Kash Patel. If Patel at first gave testimony that turned out to be a lie, and that testimony had been influenced by Defendant Trump, he might be charged with tampering with Patel as a witness, for example.
The New York Times reported last evening that legal experts its reporters had interviewed speculated that one of the statutes Defendant Trump might be charged with violating is Section 1512 (c) of Title 18, which would involve attempting to corruptly obstruct an official proceeding of the government, i.e., attempting to obstruct the certification of electoral ballots by the Congress on January 6, 2021 by participating in the scheme to put forth fake electoral ballots from battleground states.
There has been action today on that front as well in the state of Michigan. Attorney General Dana Nessel announced the indictment of 16 prominent Republicans for falsely signing fake electoral ballots naming Defendant Trump as the winner of their votes in the Electoral College. According to CNN, the 16 were charged with eight felonies each involving the fake elector scheme: “Two counts of forgery, one count of conspiracy to commit forgery, two counts of election law forgery, one count of conspiracy to commit election law forgery, one count of publishing a counterfeit record and one count of conspiring to publish a counterfeit record.” That is a lot of charges, and Nessel said she has not ruled out “potential charges against additional defendants.” President Biden won Michigan by 154,000 votes, so who received the state’s electoral votes wasn’t even close.
Remember the fake recount of votes in Maricopa County, Arizona, after the 2020 election, the one where they were examining mail-in ballots to see if the paper contained traces of bamboo because the ballots had allegedly come from China? Well, Arizona is back in the news. The Washington Post reported last week that Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes is also investigating the fake elector scheme in that state. With District Attorney Fani Willis taking charges involving the fake elector scheme in Georgia to a newly-empaneled grand jury, it is possible that Defendant Trump will be tried in two state courtrooms and the federal courthouse in Washington D.C. for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
In other news on the Defendant Trump front, a hearing was held in Florida yesterday to discuss the scheduling of the classified documents case. Judge Aileen Cannon was said to have been receptive to Defendant Trump’s lawyers’ arguments that there is so much discovery in the case – over 1,000 classified documents, thousands of unclassified documents, and nine months of security camera footage from Mar-a-Lago – that the defense cannot possibly deal with all of the evidence in time for the December court date asked for by Special Counsel Jack Smith.
But Cannon was said to be unmoved by Defendant Trump’s arguments that the trial should be pushed back past the November date for the 2024 presidential election because he is a candidate. Prosecutors argued that he is not president anymore, he is an ordinary citizen, and lots of defendants are very busy people who have to deal with trials for crimes they are alleged to have committed. Cannon said she will issue a ruling on the trial schedule “promptly,” so we may see by the end of the week how deep she is in the pocket of her favorite defendant.
And just think: Scarcely a day has passed since it became known that Defendant Trump received his target letter from the DOJ. Lots of action to come, so stay tuned right here for updates.
Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.
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