Donald Trump was indicted on felony charges Tuesday for working to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the run-up to the violent riot by his supporters at the U.S. Capitol, as the Justice Department moved to hold him accountable for his efforts to block the peaceful transfer of power.
The four-count indictment reveals new details about a dark chapter in modern American history, detailing handwritten notes from former Vice President Mike Pence about Trump’s relentless goading as well as how Trump sought to exploit the violence of the Jan. 6, 2021 riot to remain in office.
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.
It accuses him of repeatedly lying about the election results, turning aside repeated overtures from some aides to tell the truth but conspiring with others to try to improperly change vote totals in his favor.
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
The Justice Department’s investigation into the efforts to overturn the 2020 election began well before Smith’s appointment, proceeding alongside separate criminal probes into the Jan. 6 rioters themselves.
More than 1,000 people have been charged in connection with the insurrection, including some with seditious conspiracy.