As you’ve no doubt heard by now, on Tuesday, Donald Trump announced that special counsel Jack Smith had informed him of his status as a target of the Justice Department’s investigation into his attempt to hold on to power after losing the 2020 election to Joe Biden. Obviously, this is not great news for the ex-president, seeing as (1) the official notification means he is very likely to be criminally charged, and (2) he’s already got two other indictments to deal with, as well as a potential one out of Georgia. Also not great? That Trump’s legal team seemingly did not realize until just now that Smith is not f–king around.
CNN reports that “the potential charges listed in the target letter suggest the special counsel will prosecute a bigger case against Trump than the former president’s team was expecting, given the evidence they are aware of.” (According to multiple news outlets, the letter cites three possible statutes Trump could be charged with violating: conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud the United States; tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant; and deprivation of rights under color of law. As Forbes notes, all of these charges, should a jury decide to convict, could result in prison time.) Naturally, Trump’s attorneys and advisers are now scrambling to “figure out if there is evidence and witnesses they are unaware of that are bolstering” Smith’s case, according to CNN. The ex-president’s political action committee has reportedly underwritten the legal bills for a number of witnesses—which, CNN notes, “has given them some insight into what has been shared with Smith’s team”—but apparently not everyone who’s spoken to investigators has scurried back to Team Trump to let them know exactly what Smith and company know.
Earlier this month, CNN reported that prosecutors had “signaled a continued interest in a chaotic Oval Office meeting that took place in the final days of the Trump administration, during which the former president considered some of the most desperate proposals to keep him in power over objections from his White House counsel.” (Those proposals, as we know from contemporaneous reporting, included invoking martial law and seizing voting machines.) According to multiple CNN sources, federal investigators have asked a number of witnesses—some in front of a grand jury—about the meeting. Smith’s team has also seemingly been attempting to determine if Trump knew his efforts to stay in power were based on a lie, which could significantly help any case brought against him. (According to The New York Times, former first son-in-law Jared Kushner is believed to have testified that he got the impression Trump truly believed the election had been stolen from him, though others are not convinced.)
On Tuesday, having apparently taken the news of the looming indictment in characteristic stride, Trump went to Truth Social to write/scream: “WITCH HUNT!!! CROOKED JOE BIDEN & HIS INJUSTICE DEPARTMENT WANT TO INDICT & ARREST HIS PRESUMED POLITICAL OPPONENT (ME!), WHO IS LEADING HIM IN THE POLLS IN THE UPCOMING PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 2024. SUCH A THING HAS NEVER HAPPENED IN OUR COUNTRY BEFORE…AND IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CAMPAIGN??? ELECTION INTERFERENCE & PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT!!!”
Later, at a town hall with Fox News, he repeated the claim that his poll numbers are the only reason he has been indicted and may face further indictments—nothing to do with, y’know, his attempts to steal a second term and his incitement of an insurrection.
According to CNN, Smith’s grand jury is still hearing from witnesses, and Trump adviser Will Russell is expected to testify on Thursday.
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