May 27, 2024

Six Things We Learned From the New Trump Indictment

The new charges against Donald Trump may not be the first indictment against the former president, but they almost certainly include the most serious charges.

The indictment itself—a 45-page document laying out Trump’s scheme to subvert democracy and remain in power after he lost the 2020 election—includes a number of new revelations.

Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, as well as his actions on Jan. 6, have been well documented. Congress dedicated an entire special committee to showing how Trump acted inappropriately—or didn’t act at all—as rioters attacked the Capitol. But DOJ Special Prosecutor was still able to unearth new details that have never been previously disclosed.

Here are the top six revelations contained within Tuesday’s indictment:

Trump Was Trying to Delay Election Certification During the Jan. 6 Attack

The indictment notes that after it became clear that Vice President Mike Pence “would not fraudulently alter the election results,” the attack on the U.S. Capitol halted the Electoral certification. “As violence ensued,” the indictment claims, “the Defendant and 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.”

If true, that means Trump wasn’t just sitting on his hands during the Jan. 6 Capitol attack; he was actually pushing harder to delay the certification in his overall goal of overturning the election.

That evidence could show Trump’s intentions and highlight the former president’s slow action to deploy National Guard troops at the Capitol.

During and After Violence at the Capitol, Trump and Giuliani Kept Pressuring GOP Lawmakers to Delay Certification

It has been known that Trump personally called Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) on the afternoon of Jan. 6, though he apparently dialed Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) by accident first.

But the indictment reveals for the first time the extent of Trump and Giuliani’s efforts to continue pushing lawmakers to delay the certification process, during and after the worst of the violence at the Capitol. None of these lawmakers were named in the indictment.

At 6:01 P.M., Trump finally urged rioters to “go home in love & peace.” According to the indictment, at 6:00 P.M., Trump—through aides—attempted to reach two senators on the phone.

An hour later, Giuliani placed calls to five congressmen and one senator. At the same time, Co-conspirator Number 6 was attempting to track down phone numbers for six more senators that Trump had directed Giuliani to contact.

Giuliani left a voicemail for a senator in which he said: “We need you, our Republican friends, to try to just slow it down so we can get these legislatures to get more information to you. And I know they’re reconvening at eight tonight but the only strategy we can follow is to object to numerous states and raise issues so that we get ourselves into tomorrow—ideally until the end of tomorrow.”

In another voicemail, Giuliani repeated false claims about 2020 election fraud, said Pence’s actions were surprising, and asked the senator to “object to every state and kind of spread this out a little bit like a filibuster.”

Trump Loyalists Welcomed Possibility of Widespread Violence and Suggested Martial Law

During a meeting on Jan. 3, Co-conspirator Number 4 spoke to Patrick Philbin, the Deputy White House Counsel, who warned that “there would be riots in every major city in the United States” if Trump remained in office. Co-Conspirator Number 4 replied to Philbin, “that’s why there’s an Insurrection Act.” That law, enacted in 1807, empowers the president to deploy federal troops within the United States to suppress civil disorder.

Then, on Jan. 4, a Trump Senior Advisor told Co-Conspirator Number 2 that their plan to overturn the election would cause “riots in the streets.” At that point, according to the indictment, Co-Conspirator Number 2 said that there had been points in American history when violence was necessary to preserve the country.

Trump Personally Reinserted Language Attacking Pence Into His Jan. 6 Speech

The indictment claims that, at 11:15 a.m., Trump called Pence once again and “pressured him to fraudulently reject or return Biden’ legitimate electoral votes.” Pence once again refused.

“Immediately after the call, the Defendant decided to single out the Vice President in public remarks he would make within the hour, reinserting language that he had personally drafted earlier that morning falsely claiming that the Vice President had authority to send electoral votes to the states but that advisors had previously successfully advocated be removed.”

We knew Trump had inserted language going after Pence into his Jan. 6 speech. But we didn’t know that aides had removed that language—only to have Trump reinsert the language again.

Trump Privately Said He’d “Give” a National Security Crisis “To The Next Guy”

On Jan. 3, Trump indicated he knew he was imminently leaving office during a meeting with top national security officials. According to the indictment, Gen. Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, briefed Trump on an unspecified “overseas national security issue”—which had previously come up in December—and presented options for Trump to address it.

When Milley and another official advised Trump against acting on the situation so close to the transfer of power, the president agreed. “Yeah, you’re right, it’s too late for us,” Trump said. “We’re going to give that to the next guy.”

Mike Pence Took ‘Contemporaneous Notes’ of a Damning Meeting With Trump

The indictment notes that Pence took “contemporaneous notes” during one meeting with Trump and alleged co-conspirator John Eastman. The indictment alleges that Trump “knowingly false claims of election fraud” during that meeting.

“Bottom line won every state by 100,000s of votes,” Trump said, according to Pence’s notes. The president claimed he “won every state” and asked about a claim that senior Justice Department officials had previously had told him was false—the alleged claim that there were 205,000 more votes than voters in Pennsylvania.

According to Pence’s notes, Eastman asked Pence to either unilaterally reject the legitimate electors from seven states that Trump wanted to dispute, or to at least send the question of which slate of electors was legitimate back to state legislatures.

Pence purportedly challenged Eastman on whether he was allowed to do that. “Well, nobody’s tested it before,” Eastman said, according to Pence’s notes.

Pence apparently seized on that to challenge Trump. “Did you hear that? Even your own counsel is not saying I have that authority,” he allegedly said. Trump then told Pence that was OK because he preferred the first option—Pence just unilaterally rejecting the legitimate electors—anyway.

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