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Trump indicted over effort to overturn 2020 election

Donald Trump.
Donald Trump. Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Andrew Naughtie, Euronews
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The former US president's resistance to Joe Biden's legitimate victory culminated in a deadly attack on Congress by a horde of his supporters.


Donald Trump has been hit with another federal indictment, this one outlining his alleged attempts to overturn the legitimate result of the 2020 election.

The indictment, handed down by the special counsel appointed to investigate the case, Jack Smith, accuses the former president of four counts, including conspiracy to defraud the US, tampering with a witness and conspiracy against the rights of citizens.

Investigators will look into events around the 6 January 2021 riot at the US Capitol. 

If convicted on even some of the charges, Trump could theoretically face years in jail. He is nonetheless running for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination and is so far heavily outpolling his competitors.

The 77-year-old denies wrongdoing, slamming the case as "ridiculous" on social media. 

In the two months between the election and the riot, Trump not only propagated outright disinformation about the result, but also urged his supporters to "fight like hell" and summoned them to the nation's capital for the certification via tweet, promising it would be "wild!"

The resulting riot, which was kicked off by a rally outside the White House, saw thousands of Trump supporters (including organised extremists) descend upon the US Capitol to try and disrupt the official certification of the 2020 election result.

Several people died during and after the event, and scores of law enforcement officers were injured. Hundreds of rioters have been arrested and charged with various offences, and most of those who have appeared in court have pleaded guilty in the face of overwhelming evidence posted on social media.

Many have explicitly stated that they were convinced they were doing Trump's bidding in storming the building. Others have complained they feel betrayed at his failure to pardon the rioters en masse before he left office.

Caught out

Trump has long dismissed any and all federal and state-level investigations into him as part of a broader witch hunt mounted by his political opponents.

The indictment is the third targeting the former president this year alone. After a grand jury in Manhattan voted to indict him over "hush money" payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in advance of the 2016 election, the former president was charged with 37 separate offences in connection with his hoarding of classified documents at his residence at Mar-a-Lago in Florida.

That indictment has since been enhanced with further charges, including that he asked a staffer to delete CCTV footage from the residence after the FBI began investigating reports that documents were being illegally kept there.

Jose Luis Magana/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved
Pro-Trump rioters attack the US Capitol on January 6th 2021.Jose Luis Magana/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved

He and some of his allies have previously falsely claimed that as president, he was entitled to declassify the documents by fiat without informing any authorities he was doing so.

However, among the evidence gathered by prosecutors is an audio recording of him showing a journalist a classified plan for an attack on Iran. On the recording, which dates from after he left office, he explicitly acknowledges that the document is still secret and that he should not be displaying it.

The Washington investigation into Trump's post-election disinformation campaign has been running for almost two years. It is separate from another inquiry in Fulton County, Georgia, where Trump is accused of illegally pressuring state officials to "find" enough votes for him to overturn Joe Biden's crucial victory in the state.

No indictment has been issued in that case, but several of Trump's most senior former associates have been called in to testify to the grand jury.

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