The next Trump indictment drops

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.


  1. says

    You should know that consecutive sentences are generally precluded when the criminal actions are interrelated. It’s not an impossible hurdle to overcome, but you should start out assuming that the longest max sentence for any individual crime is also the longest max sentence if convicted on ALL the crimes.

    Then cut that in half for any first offender or 2/3rds if the crime is one that might include violence but doesn’t necessarily and did not in this case. (Cut by only 1/3rd if it’s a crime that may or may not include violence and DID in this case.)

    While there was violence on Jan 6th, it wasn’t directly committed by Trump. I’d be surprised if he was sentenced to more than 7 years even if convicted on all charges.

    That said, the separate trials for other crimes can result in consecutive sentences. (Retaining classified records was not part of the scheme to interfere with a congressional proceeding, since the proceeding was Jan 6th and he couldn’t be said to be illegally retaining records until after noon on the 20th.)

    And, of course, even if they don’t, health care in prison isn’t great and Trump is closer to 80 than to 70. Seven years might be a life sentence to him.

  2. billseymour says

    I’m trying to think of anything, aside from what’s in the indictment itself, that I can know or be reasonably certain of:

    1.  Trump will never mention anything that’s actually in the indictment.  His only argument will be a rambling ad hominem, some of it paranoid, repeated endlessly.

    2.  The professional media will never mention #1, and certainly won’t explain why it’s important for critical thinking.

    3.  Around one third of likely American voters, give or take, will believe, immediately and uncritically, anything Trump says regardless of content.

    At present, I don’t have much hope of keeping Trump off the ballot, or even out of the White House; but I wouldn’t take any odds either way.  An awful lot can happen (some of it actually awful) between now and the primaries, and between the primaries and the general election.

    Crip Dyke:  thanks for the information about sentences.

  3. johnson catman says

    Matt G @3: For sure. The Aryan Brotherhood would fall all over themselves to surround and extol The Orange Menace as their leader.

  4. Tethys says

    I have a few candidates for individual six. I hope it’s Stephen Miller, a real slimeball who deserves a few indictments for his role in the crimes committed.

  5. steve oberski says

    Any criminal conviction of SSAT with any jail time, no matter how short, is fine by me.

  6. DonDueed says

    It looks like the NY Times has figured out who co-conspirator #6 is. They are naming Trump aide Boris Epshteyn. Apparently he sent an email to Giulianni that matches the one described in the indictment.
    Too bad — I was hoping it was Ginnie Thomas.

  7. birgerjohansson says

    Tethys @ 5
    It is remarkable that SM succeeded in doing so much lasting harm despite the chaos in the White House.

  8. sonofrojblake says

    I want to remind you Trump was enthusiastic about the potential use of nuclear weapons


    I do recall reading about a report of a conversation where he repeatedly quizzed the Joint Chiefs or some similar gathering along the lines of “but WHY can’t I use them?”, while the adults in the room patiently explained the realities. One level, terrifying, yes, but then, on another, it’s actually kind of a reasonable question: if you can’t use them what’s the point of having them? What’s the point of having so MANY? What’s the point of building new ones in defiance of non-proliferation treatiesupgrading the existing ones?

    Just saying that of the many dreadful things you can call Trump after his four years of chaos, “enthusiastic warmonger” is actually not one of them, especially not compared with the (counts on fingers) five Presidents before him, and his well-known-to-be-hawkish opponent in 2016. Starting new wars was practically a Clinton campaign promise.

  9. sonofrojblake says

    @Matt G, 3: said this elsewhere but…
    Jailing Trump would free up some Secret Service… would it? In all seriousness: once you’ve been President, you get Secret Service protection for life. There’s not, as far as I’m aware, a clause anywhere that says “unless you go to jail”. Indeed, it’s reasonable to assume that Trump would need MORE comprehensive security if sent to jail – he’s hardly going in gen pop is he? Leave aside juvenile fantasies of him getting shivved in the shower by a man named Bubba – isn’t the reality that any prison guard who tries to lay a hand on him for any reason will get shot? I’m genuinely interested to know how that conflict of jurisdiction would play out.

  10. JM says

    @12 sonofrojblake: I would be curious to find out how the Secret Service handles his jail time. There is obviously no precedent so they would have to make up entirely new rules. Trump might need more security on him personally when interacting with other prisoners but he wouldn’t need any travel security checking his path ahead of him. Secret Service would put an agent in the security office but as long as there is a secret service agent near Trump they probably trust the prison guards for general area security.
    Hopefully we get to find out.

  11. birgerjohansson says

    Sonofrojblake @ 11 Those are valid points. I would reply that a candidate that has not understood the non-usability of nukes has no business applying for the job.
    But a better concern is, what if there is another Tonkin bay incident? Another Cuba chrisis?

    Even non-Trumpian presidents have, as you point out, displayed very poor judgement.
    A MAGA-type leader would be even more likely to enter a nuclear dick-measuring contest with North Korea or some other place led by “excentric” leaders.

    So 1. Let the SSAT disappear into prison where he cannot hurt more people, and
    2. Never vote for warmongers. For Democrats, this means participating in the primary process to make sure some more Carter-esque candidate wins.

  12. sonofrojblake says

    they probably trust the prison guards


    Good one.

    For Democrats, this means participating in the primary process to make sure some more Carter-esque candidate wins.

    But it was her turn, dammit!.

  13. Alan G. Humphrey says

    There is a solution to the prison/Secret Service problem by designating a section of a prison as an annex of the SS and employing the set of prison guards in that section as SS agents. A whole wing could also serve for all of his co-conspirators because if he gets convicted then they will, too.

    I think that if there is a conviction the most probable sentence will be a sort of house arrest at one of his properties. But he will immediately begin violating restrictions because that is his essence. And how else can he get press coverage while locked away?

  14. No Respect says

    Daily reminder that obvious Trump admirer* sonofrojblake needs to get killed and that I need to get forbidden from posting here. I can’t stop on my own, it’s a compulsion.

    * I don’t mean to say that sonofrojblake supports Trump’s policies, just that he obviously simpathizes with him due to being a similar kind of person/asshole/sociopath. Kindred spirits.

  15. SailorStar says

    @ sonofrojblake: But it was her turn, dammit!.

    You’re (purposely?) misappropriating something Mitt Romney’s wife said about his presidential run--i.e., that it was his turn. You give the impression you’re quite the misogynist and you are clearly deranged at the very idea of Hillary Clinton. Congratulations on swallowing the propaganda of a political party of a country you don’t even live in.

  16. John Morales says

    Still waiting on the Georgia inquiry.


  17. sonofrojblake says

    Yes, purposely. Mrs. Romney’s line spoke of a massive sense of arrogant entitlement. If you don’t think Clinton’s run for President was also characterised by a massive sense of arrogant entitlement, I can only ask what you were smoking.

    You give the impression you’re quite the misogynist

    If that’s the impression you got you must have been closing your eyes and putting your fingers in your ears and going “lalalalala” when I was voicing support for Elizabeth Warren then. You give the impression you’re quite the stereotypical SJW moron if ANY criticism of ANY woman for ANY reason is automatically labelled misogyny, regardless of the masses of evidence of Clinton’s character.

    you are clearly deranged at the very idea of Hillary Clinton

    “Deranged at the very idea”?? Hyperbole, much? I was and am angry at the fact she was the candidate. The fact she’s a woman is entirely irrelevant to this anger (Warren would have been superior). It is purely based on:
    -- the way the Democrat nomination was stitched up in her favour at the expense of Bernie Sanders. Hence the “it was her turn dammit” line. As an outsider that was the impression I got -- the Sanders was in most ways the superior candidate (he was certainly more popular among the usual suspects here as I recall) but that he was sidelined by the Clinton juggernaut.
    -- the way her whole campaign seemed to just take victory for granted… a strategy that handed victory to Trump.
    -- the book she put out after the event, blaming everyone and everything but herself for her failure to beat the second-worst Presidential candidate in US history.

    None of those things are true because she’s a woman, she just happened to be a woman while doing all those things. Being angry that those things were done by her doesn’t arise from misogyny, and trying to pretend it does is the worst kind of lazy, knee-jerk and transparently bullshit argument.

  18. KG says

    the way the Democrat nomination was stitched up in her [Hillary Clinton] favour at the expense of Bernie Sanders. sonofrojblake@20

    Quite so -- “stiched up” by all those people who voted for her rather than for Sanders in the primaries. I’d much rather Sanders had been the candidate, but Clinton won the nomination because she got a lot more votes. It really is that simple. Of course the Democratic establishment wanted her as candidate, but unless you have evidence that they switched votes from Sanders to her (presumably using the same machines used to switch Trump’s votes to Biden in 2020 :-p), they did not and could not “stich it up” for her.

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