April 20, 2024

When will Donald Trump be indicted in Jan 6 probe?

Despite leading the race to be the Republican Party’s next presidential candidate, Donald Trump’s legal woes continue to mount.

Last week, Mr Trump was informed by Justice Department Special Counsel Jack Smith that he is the target of a grand jury investigation into his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and his role in the deadly Capitol riot of 6 January 2021.

This comes after he has already been indicted twice this year – once over hush money payments allegedly made during his 2016 election campaign and second over his alleged mishandling of classified documents since leaving the White House.

What’s more, he is also under investigation by Fani Willis, district attorney of Fulton County, Georgia, over his apparent attempt to influence state officials in the immediate aftermath of the 2020 presidential election while the vote count was ongoing in that crucial swing state.

For his part, Mr Trump has strenuously denied any wrongdoing and repeatedly insisted – without any evidence – that he is the victim of a costly “witch hunt” by the Joe Biden administration, which he claims has weaponised the US justice system against him in order to thwart his proposed political comeback at taxpayers’ expense.

With potential charges now looming in both the Georgia case and the Justice Department’s January 6 case, when can we expect Mr Trump to next be indicted?

Here’s where the two ongoing cases currently stand:

Justice Department’s probe into January 6

The events of 6 January 2021 are well known: a mob composed of thousands of Trump supporters and members of notorious far-right groups laid siege to the US Capitol Building in Washington DC in an attempt to stop a joint session of Congress formally certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election in Mr Biden’s favour.

The riot came after Mr Trump and his entourage insisted the vote had been “stolen” by a vast nationwide Democratic conspiracy – a claim that was debunked in numerous courts.

When Mr Trump’s call for his Vice President Mike Pence to stop the certification went unanswered, the enraged crowd – whipped up by a rally speech from their champion, who urged them to “fight like hell” – crashed through security barriers and stormed the legislative complex in scenes of carnage that shocked the world.

Five people died as a result of the chaos and more than 150 law enforcement officers were injured in violent clashes over the course of several hours before the situation could be brought under control.

Jack Smith is leading the federal investigation

(AP)

Mr Pence and other lawmakers targeted the Trump movement – including Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and Mitt Romney – came uncomfortably close to being confronted by the insurrectionists, some of whom had made overt threats against them.

Mr Trump was subsequently impeached for a second time, hundreds of people were charged over their actions that day and the matter was extensively investigated by a House select committee which staged a series of televised hearings between June and October 2022 before publishing a lengthy report in December that recommended Mr Trump to the Justice Department for potential charges.

Special counsel Smith has been investigating Mr Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election and has informed the former president that he was the target of a grand jury investigation.

The former president was invited to appear to testify before the grand jury – an invitation he declined.

Now, he is widely expected to be criminally charged, with Mr Trump himself predicting his own imminent arrest in a message to his social media followers.

An indictment could come as soon as this week but it is unclear what criminal charges he might face.

The House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack concluded in its final report that there was evidence on which to charge Mr Trump with inciting or aiding an insurrection, obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the United States and conspiracy to make a false statement.

Donald Trump speaks during a rally on 7 July 2023 in Council Bluffs, Iowa

(Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

However, the letter sent to Mr Trump about the grand jury probe reportedly only listed three federal statutes that could constitute charges against him.

The statutes mentioned in the letter, according to several reports, are conspiracy to commit offence or to defraud the United States, deprivation of rights under colour of law and tampering with a witness, victim or informant.

Georgia election interference

Between Election Day 2020 and the events of 6 January 2021, an increasingly desperate Mr Trump was caught on tape exerting pressure on Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to help him “find” the additional 11,760 ballots he needed to win the election in the state.

The affair recalled the episode for which he was first impeached – recorded attempting to blackmail Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky into launching a bogus anti-corruption investigation into Mr Biden in exchange for US military aid – and prompted legendary The Washington Post journalist Carl Bernstein to call the incriminating audio “worse than Watergate”.

Fani Willis, the Fulton County DA, has been investigating the affair and is also understood to be looking at a plot to appoint an alternate slate of electors in Georgia in the hope of swinging more votes towards Mr Trump before their certification by Congress in Washington DC.

DA Willis is a Democrat with a reputation for being a “pitbull in the courtroom” who is more accustomed to prosecuting violent crime in Atlanta than political allegations against a president of the United States.

She has set about her task tenaciously, however, subpoenaing Mr Trump allies like Mark Meadows and Lindsey Graham as she builds her case.

Fani Willis, the Fulton County DA, is leading the Georgia probe

(AP)

DA Willis has been disinclined to discuss her approach in detail with the media so far but has suggested that Mr Trump could face charges by mid-August. Exactly what those charges might be is not yet known, although The Guardian has said they could be framed around “racketeering” activity.

The DA made her feelings about justice crystal clear during an interview with CNN last year in which she said: “It doesn’t matter if you’re rich, poor, Black, white, Democrat or Republican. If you violated the law, you’re going to be charged.”

Mr Trump, inevitably, has attempted to tarnish her credibility by calling her a “Radical Left Prosecutor” implying she is another part of the “conspiracy” operating against him that also includes the likes of Mr Smith and Alvin Bragg and Letitia James in New York.

His attorneys have meanwhile attempted to have DA Willis disqualified from pursuing the case, claiming a “conflict of interest” in a 650-page filing in the Superior Court of Fulton County last week.

Kristy Greenberg, assistant US attorney for the Southern District of New York, told MSNBC on Sunday she believes that Mr Smith and Ms Willis are likely to be coordinating their investigations into Mr Trump.

“There has to be some sort of coordination,” she said. “It’s a delicate situation but they must be communicating, they must be sharing information where they are looking at the same kinds of witnesses and documents as they get to the final stages.”

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