Former President Donald Trump’s legal troubles aren’t going away, and he is now part of a federal investigation into the assault on the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021, while he faces an indictment on charges related to efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
The grand jury has been meeting in Washington, D.C., in the probe led by special counsel Jack Smith and recently heard testimony from William Russell, a former White House aide of Trump who works for his 2024 presidential campaign, NBC News reported.
The exact details aren’t known, but it is apparently related to three federal statutes, including conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of an official proceeding, The New York Times reported.
Trump could also be charged with violating a civil rights statute that dates back to the post-Civil War Reconstruction era – specifically Section 241 of Title 18 of the United States Code, which makes it a crime for people to “conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person” in the “free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States.”
As the paper of record noted, the United States Congress enacted that statute after the Civil War to provide a tool for federal agents to go after Southern whites, including Ku Klux Klan members, who engaged in terrorism to prevent formerly enslaved African Americans from voting. In the modern era, the statute has been used more broadly, including in cases of voting fraud conspiracies.
Did Trump Encourage The Riot?
The narrative in this case could be that Trump actively encouraged the attack, and moreover deliberately did nothing to stop it.
“Trump engaged in a sprawling and systematic effort to steal the 2020 election,” wrote former White House press secretary and MSNBC host Jen Psaki. “We have heard and seen evidence that these efforts included defrauding the American public, subverting democratic institutions and coordinating a pressure campaign at the local, state and federal level to overturn the will of the people.”
She added that Trump “stood idly by as a mob desecrated the Capitol and threatened to hang America’s vice president,” and further described the attack as “one of the darkest moments in our nation’s history.”
Psaki has suggested that Trump’s efforts to steal the 2020 election were far more expansive than just the attack on the Capitol Building. “As we reflect on how to prevent history from repeating itself, we need to talk about the totality of his actions.”
He was indicted in Florida in June in a case related to his handling of classified documents, while he was also indicted in New York earlier this year in a case centered on $130,000 paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels during the closing days of the 2016 presidential campaign.
The former president has pleaded not guilty in both those cases.
Support for Trump Remains Strong
Despite his legal woes, Trump remains committed to seeking reelection. In fact, the more charges he faces, the better he does in the polls, and the more support he seems to gain from Republican lawmakers.
That is a point that isn’t lost on critics of the former president.
Alex Shephard of The New Republic wrote this week, “Democrats thus have another opportunity to make a larger case that isn’t just about the events of January 6 but rather the far more nefarious activities that were proceeding behind the scenes in the run-up to the attempted sacking of the Capitol: Donald Trump may not have been orchestrating the yahoos, but he was actively working to not just undermine but overthrow American democracy.”
Shephard also added that this latest indictment could be “another opportunity to remind voters of Trump’s criminality and authoritarianism.”
Of course, it will be up to the voters to decide.
Author Experience and Expertise:
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.