The event, which culminated in the unfolding of the Justice Department’s latest indictment against Donald Trump on Tuesday, had a familiar ring to it. It was a flurry of social media attacks, gratuitous insults from the presumptive defendant, and hours of suffocating ranting on cable television. News that hasn’t happened yet. (“It’s a tiny step forward, Jake, but that’s all we have right now,” CNN senior legal correspondent Paula Reed once told anchor Jake Tupper.) Early in the afternoon, E. The Barrett Prettyman Federal Court in downtown Washington, D.C. has announced that the grand jury was out for the day, reporters staked out. 4:41 afternoonTrump revealed on his Truth Social account: “Yet another fake indictment against me, your favorite president, at 5 p.m. I have heard that they will announce the charges.” In fact, the special prosecutor’s exposure of the charges was around 5:15. afternoon Before details were made public, and even before Trump’s identity as a defendant was confirmed, the campaign described the case as “reminiscent of Nazi Germany, the former Soviet Union, and other authoritarian regimes of the 1930s.” It issued a statement stating that The process, the legal details, the prearranged bombastic language, all threaten to turn a big day in this troubled republic into something like a TV show on television. Some tended to somehow undermine the significance of the anomalous events in progress. the paint is dry.
Then came the indictment. It took him two-and-a-half years and a lot of airtime to complete this rigorous 45-page document, but when it was done, it was neither boring nor ordinary nor mediocre. Donald J. Trump has been charged with four counts of the most serious crimes a former US president can be charged with: crimes against democracy itself. Attempted coup. Efforts to subvert the will of voters and stay in power are something we have never seen before and hopefully never happen again. Six co-conspirators who persuaded President Trump to help carry out his attempt to nullify the 2020 presidential election results were named but not charged. Five of the six soon turned out to be lawyers: Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Sidney Powell, Jeffrey Clarke and Kenneth Chesebro. According to the indictment, they, along with the former president, “used fraud, fraud, and deception to obstruct, obstruct, and defeat” the federal government’s efforts to certify election results.
Here, at last, it was stated harshly and sharply that what Trump did in the two months following his election defeat to Joe Biden was a crime. Perhaps this came too late, given the political calendar and President Trump’s current rush to the 2024 Republican nomination. But still the message was clear and obvious. There is no euphemism in the indictment for the actions of President Trump and his co-conspirators. The preamble describing their conspiracy is legally written text over the years.
This word is amazing, it is also a restatement of what we have known all along. The lawsuit against Donald J. Trump is unprecedented, but it is based on unprecedented acts committed in full view and in full view.
By now, it was not until the early hours of November 4, 2020, when President Trump declared, “Frankly, I won the election,” that even the most acrimonious Trump critics made the assumptions that shaped their thinking. Hard to remember. Lost, in fact. Chief among them was the idea that even if President Trump turns out to be a miserable loser, he must accept defeat. Even if he never conceded. Even if he refuses to attend Mr. Biden’s inauguration. Before the 2020 election, the idea that a candidate could lose a major battleground state, lose a recount, lose a case in court, and still refuse to admit defeat was absurdly inconceivable. After December 14, 2020, with all 50 states certifying election results as required by law, it once again seemed absurdly implausible that Trump would continue to fight. After all, the law was the law. Electoral votes took place on time, but the tally was not so close. Biden’s total of 366 votes to Trump’s 232 votes was about the same as Trump’s victory in 2016, which he hailed as a “landslide.” But then Trump pushed ahead anyway and continued to fight until January 6th. It was unthinkable, but it still happened.
For those who have been watching this story closely, who attended last year’s hearings of the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 case and read its final report, Tuesday’s indictment of Smith is truly revelatory. there was very little. The power was in the collective. Among the well-known episodes enumerated and detailed in the indictment was President Trump’s pressure on state officials, including Arizona and Georgia, to change the electoral votes. Organizing fake electors in seven battleground states. His ruse to get the Justice Department to verify the fake electors in a letter written by Mr. Clark, whom President Trump was trying to install as Acting Attorney General. And when all else failed, his last effort was made on January 6 to get Vice President Mike Pence to claim powers he didn’t have and prevent Congress from recognizing the electoral votes.
Mr Pence’s testimony is a significant addition to the record. The former vice president has been critical of President Trump’s willingness to let the pro-Trump mob yelling “Hang Mike Pence!” refused to participate in the investigation. But he told prosecutors that Trump also pressured him on the Christmas call and lied that the Justice Department had found “serious violations” during the election process. Many of the specific examples of Mr. Trump’s false allegations came from “memos at the time” of Mr. Pence’s meeting, according to the indictment. Lord, as James Comey may say, I have a note.
Smith, who briefly appeared before reporters after the indictment, gloomily called the Jan. 6 Capitol attack an “unprecedented attack on the seat of American democracy” and “fueled by lies.” said with an expression. Documenting Trump’s lies and exposing how he and his gang of constitutional subverts knew they were lies is a theme that runs through the indictment, highlighting Trump’s “pervasive misconduct about election fraud.” stabilizing lies”, his “great lies”, how “he deliberately ignored the truth”. According to the indictment, Trump’s own Republican associates (White House attorney, attorney general, director of national intelligence, vice president, campaign adviser, state political ally) told Trump that his allegations were fictional. I told him there was, but Trump made it anyway. In fact, he lied about the death of a voter in Georgia and the dumping of suspicious documents in Detroit. He lied about tens of thousands of double votes in Nevada. He lied about thousands of noncitizen votes in Arizona. Trump’s lies have been so prolific that even his most aggressive defenders have written mockingly of the lies. My favorite addition to this record might be the term “senior election adviser.”Later identified as Jason Miller by the mediaHe ridiculed Mr. Trump’s outlandish claims as “conspiracy nonsense raining down from the mothership.” (It should be noted that this did not stop him from defending Trump; to this day, mirrors list themselves As a senior adviser to the Trump campaign in 2024. )
Still, the indictment is far from a comprehensive account of the lawsuit against Trump. Countless questions remain. First of all, what is the evidence that Smith withheld? Will he indict previously unindicted co-conspirators? Are there co-witnesses whose identities have not yet been released, such as former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows? Although not named as a co-conspirator, he was present in many of Trump’s maneuvers and responses during the hectic finals. day to day? The biggest question, of course, is when and how we can expect the case to be resolved, given that the case appears to be headed toward conflict with Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign. As usual, it all boils down to the unknown when it comes to him. How will this end?
The indictment itself concludes with a description of one of many moments when President Trump, belatedly, might have put an end to this whole sordid affair. at 7:01 afternoon On January 6, hours after a mob of rioters violently occupied the Capitol for the first time since the British invaded it in the War of 1812, Giuliani still called senators on behalf of Trump. was playing Trump was on the phone with White House adviser Pat Cipollone, who made a last-ditch effort to break him off. In light of the horrific events of the day, Cipollone asked President Trump to “withdraw his objection and allow the certification,” according to the indictment. But it wasn’t. “Defendant refused.”
There have been many times when Trump could have stopped this reckless game he played himself. It didn’t have to end like this for a legal clash to go down in the history books in federal court. But for Trump, he has always preferred confrontation to his own unthinkable defeat, even if it leads to violence. Perhaps historians would phrase this question differently. Could there have been a different outcome if Trump were President of the United States? ♦