Special Counsel Jack Smith issued his second indictment of serial sex abuser Donald Trump (SSAT) yesterday alleging four 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. You can read the 45-page document here. It makes for gripping reading.
Here is a clip of Smith’s brief statement lasting less than three minutes when announcing the indictment. He did not take any questions.
The document also alleges six unnamed co-conspirators but from the descriptions of their behavior, it should not be that hard to figure out who they are, and five have already been identified in media reports as Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, John Eastman, Ken Chesebro as well as the former US justice department official Jeff Clark. It is not clear if they will be indicted separately, but it is likely that they will at some point since they were very active in supporting SSAT’s absurd claims that he won the 2020 election and formed essential components of the conspiracy. Smith said in his statement that investigations into other people are continuing.
Smith has a terse, just-the-facts style which makes the document easy to read, laying out very clearly the detailed chronology of events that led to the charges. Since I have been following the proceedings fairly closely, especially the televised hearings held by the House of Representatives, I could visualize many of the events described in the document of how SSAT and his conspirators conspired to pressure various officials around the country to overturn the results in their respective states. When you read the document, it paints a really damning picture of a man who seems totally unhinged in his determination to not concede his loss and the way the six sycophants fed his delusions.
The four-count indictment reveals new details about a dark chapter in American history that has already been the subject of exhaustive federal investigations and captivating public hearings. It cites handwritten notes from former Vice President Mike Pence about Trump’s relentless goading to reject the counting of electoral votes. And it accuses Trump and his allies of exploiting the disruption caused by his supporters’ attack on the Capitol to redouble their efforts to spread false claims of election fraud and persuade members of Congress to further delay the certification of Joe Biden’s victory.
Even in a year of rapid-succession legal reckonings for Trump, Tuesday’s criminal case, with charges including conspiring to defraud the United States government that he once led, was especially stunning in its allegations that a former president assaulted the underpinnings of democracy in a frantic but ultimately failed effort to cling to power.
“The attack on our nation’s Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was an unprecedented assault on the seat of American democracy,” said special counsel Jack Smith, whose office has spent months investigating Trump. “It was fueled by lies, lies by the defendant targeted at obstructing a bedrock function of the U.S. government: the nation’s process of collecting counting and certifying the results of the presidential election.”
Trump’s claims of having won the election, said the indictment, were “false, and the Defendant knew they were false. But the defendant 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.”
So what sentence might SSAT face if found guilty of these charges?
Donald Trump has been charged with conspiring to defraud the United States, conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding, obstructing a congressional proceeding and conspiracy against rights in connection with an alleged a plan to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
What does that mean? The first charge is punishable by up to five years in prison, while the second and third could be punished with 20 years. The conspiracy against rights carries a 10 year sentence.
However, there are no minimum or mandatory sentences for the charges. If Trump is found guilty, he could be sentenced to serve consecutive terms – which would mean decades in prison – but in general, federal penalties are rarely as high as the maximum possible sentence.
Of course, SSAT’s cult followers and apologists in the Republican party leadership will attempt once again to say that this is a political witch hunt against an innocent man. That process has already begun. But only those who willfully choose not to read the indictment will be able to make such an assertion. While, as Smith says, SAAT is innocent unless proven guilty, the sheer amount of factual information laid out in the indictment that was obtained from so many sources within SSAT’s orbit and working for him the White House demonstrates conclusively that SSAT is someone who has no ethical scruples whatsoever about using lies and threats to advance his own interests.
But those of us in the reality-based world knew that anyway.