Former President Donald J. Trump has been indicted on four counts as part of the Special Counsel’s investigation into the January 6th Capitol riot, a historic legal development that deepens the controversy surrounding the events of that day.
The indictment charges Trump with:
- Count One: Conspiracy to Defraud the United States
- Count Two: Conspiracy to Obstruct an Official Proceeding
- Count Three: Obstruction of and Attempt to Obstruct an Official Proceeding
- Count Four: Conspiracy Against Rights
The charges assert that Trump conspired to obstruct the counting of the Electoral College votes on January 6th. It implies that there was a concerted effort to hinder or disrupt the normal process of confirming the election results. Conspiracy Against Rights is a charge often used in civil rights cases. It alleges that Trump conspired to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate citizens in the free exercise of a right protected by the Constitution or U.S. law.
According to the indictment, Trump did “knowingly combine, conspire, confederate and agree with co-conspirators known and unknown to the grand jury to injure, oppress, threaten, and intimidate one or more persons in the free exercise and enjoyment of a right and privilege secured to them by the Constitution and laws of the United States. That is the right to vote and to have one’s vote counted in violation of Title 18 United States Code Section 24.”
The indictment against Trump however does not include charges related to insurrection or seditious conspiracy. These specific charges would relate to actions aimed at overthrowing or rebelling against the government. Instead, the charges focus on conspiracy, obstruction, and infringement of voting rights. The absence of these charges means that the legal argument does not assert that Trump was actively trying to incite a rebellion or overthrow the government.
To this point, the U.S. Constitution does not specifically prohibit someone convicted of a felony from serving as President. Thus, even if Trump were convicted on these charges, he would not be constitutionally barred from running for or serving as President again.
If Trump were to win the 2024 Presidential Election, he would have the power to pardon himself for federal crimes. This is a debated legal issue, and no President has ever attempted to pardon himself, so it would likely lead to legal challenges and a potential Supreme Court decision.
If Trump were to lose the election and be convicted on these charges, he could face imprisonment. The legal process would continue independently of the election outcome, and a conviction could lead to serious legal penalties, including jail time.
The indictment outlines a high-stakes scenario for both Trump and the nation. The legal proceedings could significantly impact his political future and the 2024 Presidential Election. At the same time, the charges raise questions about the rule of law, as well as the integrity of the electoral process.
The indictment was not initially read in court and does not list any other defendants besides Trump. Observers had been watching to see if any other individuals, such as aides or associates, might be included in the charges, as was the case in a separate legal matter concerning the retention of documents.
The charges stem from an ongoing investigation into the riot at the Capitol building on January 6th, 2021, where supporters of Trump stormed the premises during the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory. The events of that day have led to widespread condemnation, multiple investigations, and a series of legal actions against those involved.
While the indictment represents a significant legal escalation against the former President, the political implications are equally profound. Many are likely to see this as further evidence of political persecution.