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Trump indicted in 2020 election interference probe; Smith says Capitol attack ‘fueled by lies’

WASHINGTON — A federal grand jury investigating the efforts of Donald Trump and others to overturn the results of the 2020 election returned an indictment against the former president on Tuesday.

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The four-count indictment includes:

  • A conspiracy to defraud the United States by using dishonesty, fraud and deceit to obstruct the nation’s process of collecting, counting, and certifying the results of the presidential election (Count 1, in violation of 18 USC 371).
  • A conspiracy to impede the Jan. 6 congressional proceeding at which the collected results of the presidential election are counted and certified (Count 2, in violation of 18 USC 1512).
  • The indictment also alleges that Trump attempted to, and did, corruptly obstruct and impede the certification of the electoral vote (Count 3, in violation of 18 USC 1512).
  • A conspiracy against the right to vote and to have that vote counted (Count 4, in violation of 18 USC 241).

Judge named to oversee Trump prosecution

Update 6:51 p.m. EDT Aug. 1: U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, who was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2014, has been assigned to oversee the prosecution of former president Donald Trump in Washington D.C., The Washington Post reported, citing court records. The assignment came in a random draw, according to the newspaper.

White House declines comment; Biden screens ‘Oppenheimer’

Update 6:49 p.m. EDT Aug. 1: The White House declined to comment on former President Donald Trump’s indictment, referring questions to the Department of Justice, CNN reported.

“We would refer you to the Justice Department, which conducts its criminal investigations independently,” White House spokesman Ian Sams told reporters.

President Joe Biden, meanwhile, arrived at a movie theater with first lady Jill Biden to watch the film “Oppenheimer,” The New York Times reported.

Smith: Attack on Capitol ‘fueled by lies’

Update 6:18 p.m. EDT Aug. 1: In a brief news conference, Special counsel Jack Smith called the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 an action “fueled by lies, lies by the defendant.”

Smith also called the Jan. 6 incident an “unprecedented assault on the seat of American democracy.”

He praised the law enforcement officers who defended the Capitol.

They “did not just defend a building or the people sheltering in it,” Smith said. “They put their lives on the line to defend who we are as a country and a people.”

He added that his team was not done, and that “Our investigation of other individuals continues.”

“In this case, my office will seek a speedy trial so that our evidence can be tested in court and judged by a jury of citizens,” Smith said.

Original report: “Each of these conspiracies -- which built on the widespread mistrust the defendant was creating through pervasive and destabilizing lies about election fraud -- targeted a bedrock function of the United States federal government: the nation’s process of collecting, counting and certifying the results of the presidential election,” the indictment said.

Trump has been summoned to appear at 4 p.m. on Thursday before Magistrate Judge Moxila A. Upadhyaya at the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse in Washington.

In the 45-page document, prosecutors said that Trump was “determined to remain in power.”

The indictment also listed six co-conspirators but did not identify them by name. Among the six are four unnamed attorneys who allegedly assisted Trump in his effort to overturn the 2020 election results, CNN reported.

Descriptions provided by prosecutors noted that co-conspirator 1, for example, is an attorney “who was willing to spread knowingly false claims and pursue strategies” after the 2020 election, The Washington Post reported.

According to The New York Times, one of the co-conspirators in the indictment is Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department lawyer. Prosecutors say he schemed with Trump to get the department to open “sham election crime investigations” to “influence state legislatures.”

It is the third time the former president has been indicted since leaving office and the second handed down at the federal level.

Trump’s campaign issued a statement, characterizing the indictment as an “un-American witch hunt.”

“This is nothing more than the latest corrupt chapter in the continued pathetic attempt by the Biden Crime Family and their weaponized Department of Justice to interfere with the 2024 Presidential Election, in which President Trump is the undisputed frontrunner, and leading by substantial margins,” the campaign said. ”These un-American witch hunts will fail and President Trump will be re-elected to the White House so he can save our Country from the abuse, incompetence, and corruption that is running through the veins of our Country at levels never seen before.”

Steven Cheung, a spokesperson for Trump, accused the current administration of trying to interfere with the 2024 election by targeting the current Republican frontrunner for the 2024 nomination, The Washington Post reported.

The indictment comes after lawyers for Trump met Thursday with prosecutors from special counsel Jack Smith’s office, according to the former president. Last month, Trump said he received a letter from the Justice Department informing him that he would likely face charges in Smith’s investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021 violence at the U.S. Capitol.

Trump, who is running for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, has long denied any wrongdoing related to the events at the Capitol, claiming that investigations into his conduct are politically motivated.

On Monday, Trump wrote in a social media post that he was expecting an indictment “from Deranged Jack Smith and his highly partisan gang of Thugs” related to his “PEACEFULLY & PATRIOTICALLY Speech … any day now.”

On Tuesday, Trump wrote on social media that he was expecting an indictment to be handed up at 5 p.m. EDT.

“Why didn’t they do this 2.5 years ago? Why did they wait so long?” Trump wrote. “Because they wanted to put it right in the middle of my campaign. Prosecutorial Misconduct!

The House impeached Trump on a charge of inciting the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 21, 2021, although the Senate later acquitted him.

Trump is also facing separate charges in Smith’s investigation related to his handling of classified records found last year at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. Two of his employees have also been charged in the case.

In New York, prosecutors have accused the former president of falsifying business records in connection with hush money payments made to an adult film star, a former Playboy model and a Trump Tower doorman before the 2016 presidential election. The state’s attorney general has also sued Trump, members of his family and his Trump organization, accusing them of fraud.

The former president is also facing possible charges in Georgia, where authorities have been investigating attempts to overturn the state’s 2020 presidential election results.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland named Smith as special counsel overseeing federal investigations involving Trump in November.

Check back for more on this developing story.

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