Trump charged with 4 counts, knew election lies were false, prosecutors say in indictment

WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump — already facing two indictments — now faces a third set of charges after a grand jury handed up a wide-ranging indictment against him, alleging he undertook a “criminal scheme” to undermine the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Prosecutors say the alleged scheme, which allegedly involved six unnamed co-conspirators, included enlisting a slate of so-called “fake electors” targeting several states, using the Justice Department to conduct “sham election crime investigations,” enlisting the vice president to “alter the election results.” and doubling down on false claims as the Jan. 6 riot ensued.

The six alleged co-conspirators include several attorneys and a Justice Department official.

READ: Full indictment

The sweeping indictment, based on the investigation by special counsel Jack Smith, charges Trump with four felony counts: conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against rights.

The indictment alleges that Trump knew that the claims he advanced about the election, specifically in Arizona and Georgia, were false — yet he repeated them for months.

“Despite having lost, the Defendant was determined to remain in power,” the indictment reads. “So for more than two months following election day on November 3, 2020, the Defendant spread lies that there had been outcome-determinative fraud in the election and that he had actually won.”

“These claims were false, and the Defendant knew that they were false. But the Defendant repeated and widely disseminated them anyway — to make his knowingly false claims appear legitimate, create an intense national atmosphere of mistrust and anger, and erode public faith in the administration of the election,” reads the indictment.

The former president has been summoned to appear in court on Thursday in Washington, D.C.

The Trump campaign, responding to the indictment on Trump’s Truth Social platform, said, “The lawlessness of these persecutions of President Trump and his supporters is reminiscent of Nazi Germany in the 1930s, the former Soviet Union, and other authoritarian, dictatorial regimes. President Trump has always followed the law and the Constitution, with advice from many highly accomplished attorneys.”

The charges mark the third time the former president has been indicted on criminal charges, following his indictment last month in the special counsel’s probe into his handling of classified materials after leaving office, and his indictment in April on New York state charges of falsifying business records in connection with a hush money payment made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

Trump, who has decried the probes as political witch hunts, pleaded not guilty to all charges in both those cases.

In the history of the country, no president or former president had ever been indicted prior to Trump’s first indictment in April.

Trump was informed by Smith on July 16 that he was a target in the election probe, in a letter that sources said mentioned three federal statutes: conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud the United States, deprivation of rights under a civil rights statute, and tampering with a witness, victim or an informant.

A grand jury empaneled by Smith in Washington, D.C., has been speaking with witnesses ranging from former White House aides to state election officials. Among those testifying in recent weeks have been former top Trump aide Hope Hicks and Trump’s son-in-law and former White House senior adviser Jared Kushner.

Investigators have also been speaking with election officials who are believed to have been part of the failed 2020 effort to put forward slates of so-called “fake electors” to cast electoral college votes for Trump on Jan. 6.

Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Smith to oversee both the election probe and the classified documents probe, after Trump’s announcement in November that he was again running for president triggered the appointment of an independent special counsel to avoid a potential conflict of interest in the Justice Department.

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