The appointment of Jack Smith as a special counsel to investigate Donald Trump’s actions surrounding the 2020 election has raised questions about whether the former president will face consequences for his alleged attempts to undermine the democratic process.
Smith, known for his no-nonsense approach, is tasked with presenting a compelling narrative of Trump’s efforts to pull off what many consider was an attempt at a coup.
The investigation could lead to charges of conspiracy to defraud the government, obstruction of an official proceeding, and more.
As the case progresses, many are hopeful that it will bring accountability to Trump’s actions and shed light on the heart of the matter.
Donald Trump Has Problems
Three sources familiar with the issue told the New York Times last week that the letter forwarded from the probe’s special counsel Jack Smith suggests Trump could be indicted “imminently” over the allegations.
They claimed the potential charges include conspiracy to violate civil rights under Section 241 of the US legal code, obstruction of an official proceeding, and conspiracy to defraud the United States.
The latter pair of charges have been widely expected, as the House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack had already issued criminal referrals for them. Smith’s inclusion of the nineteenth-century statute, however, is a significant and unexpected step.
When contacted by the Guardian newspaper, a senior adviser to the ex-President did not deny that Section 241 had been mentioned in Smith’s letter.
Among those “many” is New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.
The Pulitzer Prize winner wrote on Saturday: “Has Trump finally run out of time, thanks to Jack Smith, who runs marathons as an Ironman triathlete? Are those ever-loving walls really closing in this time? Or is Smith [Robert] Muellering it?,” she quipped in reference to the special counsel’s probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections and any potential coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign, led by special prosecutor Robert Mueller between May 2017 and March 2019.
She argued that while Mueller “ran a disciplined, airtight operation as special counsel, assembling a dream team of legal talent…regarding obstruction of justice, the final report was flaccid, waffling, legalistic.”
One of the most contentious aspects of the investigation was the examination of whether President Trump obstructed justice by attempting to interfere with or obstruct the investigation itself. Mueller’s report detailed several instances where Trump may have tried to impede the investigation, but it did not reach a conclusive determination on whether he committed a crime.
Despite extensive scrutiny, the investigation did not find sufficient evidence of a criminal conspiracy or direct coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. This outcome disappointed some who hoped for a more definitive conclusion on collusion.
“Smith has a herculean task before him,” Dowd wrote: “He must present a persuasive narrative that Trump and his henchmen and -women (yes, you, Ginni Thomas) were determined to pull off a coup.”
Dowd further claimed it would be a “shame” if “Trump ultimately might not be charged with staging an insurrection or sedition.” However not all Americans agree with her….
Trump continues to vehemently deny any wrongdoing and told a Fox News Town Hall in Iowa on Tuesday that special counsel Smith was a “deranged prosecutor”.
In a colorful statement posted to Truth Social on Sunday the former president expressed frustration with special counsel Jack Smith and Attorney General Merrick Garland, accusing them of orchestrating a coordinated hoax and aiming to “STEAL ANOTHER ELECTION through PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT at levels never seen before in the U.S.”
Meanwhile, former vice president Mike Pence, also a Republican presidential contender, downplayed Trump’s actions leading up to the Capitol riot, stating that he is uncertain if they qualify as criminal. Pence referred to Trump’s words as reckless but asserted that he is not yet convinced of their criminality during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Last week Trump’s key Republican rival Ron DeSantis criticized Trump’s actions on January 6, arguing that: “He should have come out more forcefully,” and that “nobody is above the law” but suggested that Trump may not be guilty of any crime.
Adding to Trump’s legal woes, he disclosed last week that he had received a letter indicating he is a target of a grand jury investigation. This development is seen as one of the most significant signs that the former president could potentially face federal charges for his attempts to overturn the 2020 election.
Georgia Gilholy is a journalist based in the United Kingdom who has been published in Newsweek, The Times of Israel, and the Spectator. Gilholy writes about international politics, culture, and education.