The special counsel oversaw the long-awaited indictment of Former President Donald Trump, laying bare the gravity of the charges against America’s 45th president.
The 45-page document released Tuesday, accuses Trump of conspiring to defraud the United States, obstructing and attempting to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against rights. The indictment argued Trump “sought to enlist” his then-Vice President Mike Pence to unconstitutionally and fraudulently took matters into his own hands in order to alter the election results.
These claims are backed up by notes taken by Pence in the days prior to the Capitol Riot on January 6th, 2021. Previously undisclosed notes appear to indicate Pence was directly pressured by Trump to take action against the electoral vote certification.
The most jaw-dropping moment appears to be part of a conversation on New Year’s Day in which Trump allegedly told Pence, “you’re too honest,” his memoir So Help Me God corroborates. The indictment states the current president had previously blocked his counsel from discussing the issue directly. “The defendant did this first by using knowingly false claims of election fraud to convince the Vice President to accept the Defendant’s fraudulent electors, reject legitimate electoral votes, or send legitimate electoral votes to state legislatures for review rather than count them,” Smith argued.
In a statement released the same day as the indictment, Pence denounced the alleged behavior of Trump, saying “Today’s indictment serves as an important reminder: anyone who puts himself over the Constitution should never be President of the United States.” He went on to add, “I will have more to say about the government’s case after reviewing the indictment.”
The court document displays a sheer sense of malice as it details the former president “using a crowd of supporters” to try to pressure Pence “into fraudulently altering the election results.” Wednesday marked the one-month anniversary of the Capitol Riot, after which Pence formally certified Biden’s electoral college win.
Now, as the nation slowly recovers from a tumultuous period, Trump faces four federal charges, each of which carries a potential prison sentence of up to five years.
The criminal case growing out of the Capitol attack paints a pathetic picture of a former president desperately turning to congressional allies and his own Vice President in a “last-ditch effort to overturn his loss.” Trump is again attempting to run for the nation’s highest office in 2024, however, his legal troubles may not be over just yet.
The former president may soon find himself dealing with both the FBI’s probe into possible campaign finance violations as well as criminal or civil investigations for inciting the Capitol riots.
For now, the reality of a former president being indicted by a special counsel remains a shocking concept, although the criminal charges laid out by Jack Smith paint a vivid and disturbing picture. Despite the allegations, Trump is still entitled to the presumption of innocence. Thousands have already declared their loyalty to the former president and will continue to do so during the trial. In at least one regard, Trump appears to have done what no other president has: become the first one ever to face criminal charges.