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Trump indicted for efforts to overturn 2020 election and block transfer of power

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In between the election and the riot, Trump urged local election officials to undo voting results in their states, pressured Pence to halt the certification of electoral votes and falsely claimed that the election had been stolen — a notion repeatedly rejected by judges. Among those lies, prosecutors say, were claims that more than 10,000 dead voters had voted in Georgia along with tens of thousands of double votes in Nevada. Each claim had been rebutted by courts or state or federal officials, the indictment says.

Prosecutors say Trump knew his claims of having won the election were false but he “repeated and widely disseminated them anyway — to make his knowingly false claims appear legitimate, to create an intense national atmosphere of mistrust and anger, and to erode public faith in the administration of the election.”

The document carefully outlined arguments that Trump has been making to defend his conduct, that he had every right to challenge the results, to use the courts, even to lie about it in the process. But in stark detail, the indictment outlines how the former president instead took criminal steps to reverse the clear verdict voters had rendered.

The indictment had been expected since Trump said in mid-July that the Justice Department had informed him he was a target of its investigation. A bipartisan House committee that spent months investigating the run-up to the Capitol riot also recommended prosecuting Trump on charges, including aiding an insurrection and obstructing an official proceeding.

The indictment includes charges of conspiring to defraud the U.S., conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding and violating a post-Civil War Reconstruction Era civil rights statute that makes it a crime to conspire to violate rights that are guaranteed by the Constitution — in this case, the right to vote.

The mounting criminal cases are unfolding in the heat of the 2024 race. A conviction in this case, or any other, would not prevent Trump from pursuing the White House or serving as president, though Trump as president could theoretically appoint an attorney general to dismiss the charges or potentially try to pardon himself.

In New York, state prosecutors have charged Trump with falsifying business records about a hush money payoff to a porn actor before the 2016 election. The trial is set to begin in March.

In Florida, the Justice Department has brought more than three dozen felony counts, accusing him of illegally possessing classified documents after leaving the White House and concealing them from investigators. That trial begins in May.

Prosecutors in Georgia are also investigating efforts by Trump and his allies to reverse his election loss to Biden there. The district attorney of Fulton County is expected to announce charging decisions within weeks.

Smith’s team has cast a broad net as part of his federal investigation, with his team questioning senior Trump administration officials, including Pence, before a grand jury in Washington. Prosecutors also interviewed election officials in Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan and other battleground states won by Biden who were pressured by the Trump team to change voting results.

Rudy Giuliani, a Trump lawyer who pursued post-election legal challenges, spoke voluntarily to prosecutors. Giuliani was not named in the indictment, but appears to match the description of one of the co-conspirators. A spokesman for Giuliani said Tuesday night that Trump had a “good-faith basis” for the actions he took.

Attorney General Merrick Garland last year appointed Smith, an international war crimes prosecutor who also led the Justice Department’s public corruption section, as special counsel to investigate efforts to undo the election as well as Trump’s retention of classified documents at his Florida home, Mar-a-Lago. Although Trump has derided him as “deranged” and called him politically motivated, Smith’s past experience includes overseeing significant prosecutions against high-profile Democrats.

The Justice Department’s investigations began well before Smith’s appointment, proceeding alongside separate criminal probes into the rioters themselves. More than 1,000 people have been charged in connection with the insurrection, including some with seditious conspiracy.

Source: AP

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