Donald Trump charged for alleged undermining of 2020 election and January 6

Donald Trump is the first former US president in history to face criminal charges. He has already been indicted twice this year.

Once again Donald Trump is facing serious legal jeopardy. Once again the latest indictment is more serious than the last.

This time it relates to his attempts to overturn the 2020 election results and rally his supporters to stage a violent insurrection at the Capitol building.

Who can forget that tumultuous day when Donald Trump implored his supporters to march to the Capitol, saying: “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore”.

It fired the starting pistol on a day of violence and anarchy which will go down in history as one of the darkest in American history.

ITV News’ crew was the only news organisation inside the Capitol at the time of the riots on January 6, 2021 – watch the full report below

This case has been brought by the Department of Justice’s Special Counsel Jack Smith and follows an exhaustive 16-month investigation by the House of Representatives Select Committee, which included two Republicans. The committee’s final report recommended Trump be charged with insurrection, conspiracy to defraud the US, conspiracy to make a false statement and obstruction of an official proceeding.

Jack Smith’s case may echo some of these and is likely to feature charges not just against the former president, but also against some of his associates.

The charges may reflect Donald Trump and his allies’ attempts to allegedly use fake electors in battleground states to certify the results in his favour.

The scheme involved convincing Republican controlled legislatures in those states to name their own Trump-friendly electors (or refuse to name any electors), even though Joe Biden had won the popular vote in those states.

16 people have already been charged in Michigan with felonies relating to fake electors, who wrongly attested the results in that state for Donald Trump. They allegedly met secretly in a basement, and then sent the forged certificates to the Senate and National Archives, in an effort to ensure Donald Trump won the critical 15 electoral colleague votes for that state.

ITV News cameras followed insurrectionists into the Capitol building on January 6 2021. / Credit: ITV News

Jack Smith may also attempt to prosecute the 45th President and his team for witness tampering while pressuring people not to give evidence to the Select Committee. 

There is some speculation that the charges will include alleged wire fraud. It has been reported by the Washington Post that prosecutors are carefully weighing various adverts raising money from Trump’s baseless electoral fraud claims.

The obstructing an official proceeding charge, if used, might relate to stopping Congress’ certification of the result on January 6.

The insurrection charge would accuse Donald Trump of being involved in a “rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States”.

It’s one of the most serious crimes a politician could face. Some have argued that Trump should also face charges of seditious conspiracy for attempting to mount a coup.

There is a precedent too.

The leader of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, along with three of his lieutenants, was convicted for just that earlier this year. It’s significant because Tarrio wasn’t even in Washington on January 6.

Donald Trump was though.

It is possible that he too could face a similar charge of seditious conspiracy, although proving the conspiracy would require prosecutors to uncover enough evidence in emails or text messages to show Donald Trump was orchestrating an attempt to overthrow the state.

So, as you can see, these charges are extremely grave and reflect the most serious challenge to the Republic since the Civil War. Donald Trump will of course claim this is all a political witch-hunt and fight them all the way.

But slowly the legal battles lying ahead are looking ever more complex and threaten to clash with next year’s election process, potentially pitching the United States into a constitutional crisis.

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