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‘You’re too honest’: New Trump indictment exposes former president’s own awareness of his alleged lies about 2020 election

Donald Trump

Former President Donald Trump announces he is running for president for the third time at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., Nov. 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Donald Trump, the former president who exhorted his followers to “fight like hell” and march to the U.S. Capitol building as Congress was preparing to certify Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election, has been indicted for trying to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

The four-count indictment came down Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023. It alleges that Trump “pursued unlawful means of discounting legitimate votes and subverting election results,” and in doing so, “perpetrated three criminal conspiracies.”

Those conspiracies, according to the indictment:

a. A conspiracy to defraud the United States by using dishonesty, fraud, and deceit to impair, obstruct, and defeat the lawful federal government function by with the results of the presidential election are collected, counted, and certified by the federal government, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371;

b. A conspiracy to corruptly obstruct and impede the January 6 congressional proceeding at which the collected results of the presidential election are counted and certified (“the certification proceeding”), in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(k); and

c. A conspiracy against the right to vote and have one’s vote counted, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 241.

Trump also faces one count of obstruction of, and attempt to obstruct, an official proceeding.

The most serious charges of obstruction and conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding each carry a potential penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

Trump’s initial court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 3 at 4:00 p.m.

The indictment accuses Trump and six unnamed co-conspirators of plotting to essentially set up shadow slates of electors in seven states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — to certify Trump as the winner of the election on Jan. 6, “attempting to mimic the procedures that the legitimate electors were supposed to follow under the Constitution and other federal and state laws.”

According to the government:

This included causing the fraudulent electors to meet on the day appointed by federal law on which legitimate electors were to gather and cast their votes; cast fraudulent votes for the Defendant; and sign certificates falsely representing that they were legitimate electors. Some fraudulent electors were tricked into participating based on the understanding that their votes would be used only if the Defendant succeeded in outcome-determinative lawsuits within their state, which the Defendant never did. The defendant and co-conspirators then caused these fraudulent electors to transmit their false certificates to the Vice President and other government officials to be counted at the certification proceeding on January 6.

Prosecutors alleged that Trump and his co-conspirators used the Justice Department “to conduct shame election crime investigations and to send a letter to the targeted states that falsely claimed that the Justice Department had identified significant concerns that may have impacted the election outcome” and tried to enlist then-Vice President Mike Pence to participate in the scheme.

According to the indictment, as violent Trump supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol building — forcing Congress to stop certifying Biden’s win and either flee the building or shelter in place — the former president and his co-conspirators “exploited the disruption by redoubling efforts to levy false claims of election fraud and convince Members of Congress to further delay the certification based on those claims.”

Trump spread his false claims of election fraud, the indictment says, “despite the fact that he knew, and in many cases had been informed directly, that they were not true.”

Trump’s “knowingly false statements were integral to his criminal plans to defeat the federal government function, obstruct the certification, and interfere with others’ right to vote and have their votes counted,” the government says.

In one instance, Trump is alleged to have called Pence and “berated him” because Trump had learned that Pence “opposed a lawsuit seeking a judicial certification that, at the certification, the Vice President had the authority to reject or return votes to the states under the Constitution.”

Pence allegedly told Trump that he thought there was no constitutional basis for him to do that “and that it was improper.”

“You’re too honest,” Trump allegedly responded, according to the indictment.

Hours later, Trump “reminded his supporters to meet in Washington before the certification proceeding” in a tweet.

The DOJ also alleges that Trump “pushed officials in certain states to ignore the popular vote; disenfranchise millions of voters; dismiss legitimate electors; and, ultimately, cause the ascertainment of and voting by illegitimate electors in favor of [Trump].”

The investigation was headed by special prosecutor Jack Smith, appointed in November by Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate whether Trump should be charged in connection with the riot, when scores of Trump supporters — many engaging in hand-to-hand combat — overwhelmed law enforcement to violently force their way inside the Capitol building. The breach forced Congress to pause its certification of the election results as lawmakers and staffers either evacuated the building or sheltered in place for hours.

A special House committee investigating the attack determined that Trump played a critical role in the riot and issued criminal referrals against him and implicated several of his allies.

Trump announced two weeks ago that his legal team had been advised that he is a target of Smith’s investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.

The indictment marks the third criminal case to be filed against Trump since he left office. He is currently facing state charges in New York over alleged hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels. He has also been indicted on federal charges in Florida for allegedly storing classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago resort and residence.

In addition, a grand jury in Georgia is reportedly considering whether to indict Trump on charges for allegedly trying to overturn Biden’s win in that state.

Read the indictment, below.

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