Former US President Donald Trump says he could soon be charged with storming the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Trump said Tuesday that Special Counsel Jack Smith had sent him a letter informing him that he was the official “target” of the investigation into the attack on Congress. Smith gave him four days to appear before a so-called grand jury, “which almost always means an arrest and indictment,” Trump added.
In the United States, a grand jury is a secret lay panel that plays a central role in investigations and decides on an indictment. Prosecutors often give suspects an opportunity to testify before a grand jury before a possible indictment. According to media reports, Trump does not want to appear before the panel.
Trump accuses Biden of interfering with the election
The ex-president said on his online platform Truth Social on Tuesday that he received Smith’s letter on Sunday evening. The 77-year-old said that a “third indictment” had now been de facto decided against him as President Joe Biden’s “number one political opponent”. “This witch hunt is about electoral interference and a complete and total political instrumentalization of law enforcement agencies.”
The office of Special Counsel Smith declined to comment on the ex-president and leading Republican candidate for the 2024 presidential election when asked by the AFP news agency.
Smith had already obtained charges against Trump in the secret documents affair in June. Independently of this, the Manhattan prosecutor’s office had indicted the ex-president in the affair of a hush money payment to the porn actress Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election.
Five people died when the US Capitol was stormed
Special Counsel Smith, appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland in November, is conducting two parallel investigations at the federal level: one into secret documents that Trump took from the White House to his private home in Mar-a-Lago, Florida, at the end of his term in early 2021, and the other possible criminal responsibility of Trump for the January 6, 2021 violence.
Radical Trump supporters stormed the Capitol when Democrat Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election was to be officially certified. Trump had previously called on his supporters to march to the Capitol and fight “whatever the hell”. In the weeks before, the incumbent who had been voted out had claimed that he had been the victim of massive voter fraud – a claim that has been refuted many times.
The bloody attack on Congress with a total of five dead caused horror around the world and is considered a black day in the history of US democracy. Trump had previously publicly called on his deputy Mike Pence to block the procedure for certifying Biden’s election victory. However, Pence adhered to the Constitution.
Committee of Inquiry recommended criminal prosecution
Last December, the House investigative committee into the storming of the Capitol recommended that the judiciary initiate criminal proceedings against Trump for, among other things, inciting or aiding and abetting a riot.
Trump has always described judicial investigations against him as politically motivated. The 77-year-old wants to run against Biden in the presidential election in November 2024 and is currently the clear favorite for his Republican Party’s presidential nomination.
In the secret documents affair, Trump has pleaded not guilty to all 37 charges.
Further charges in Georgia possible
The public prosecutor wants the trial to begin in December, and Trump’s lawyers have requested that no trial date be set until further notice.
Meanwhile, Trump could also face charges in the state of Georgia: After the 2020 presidential election, the prosecutor’s office for the district of Fulton County with the city of Atlanta launched investigations into attempts by Trump and his allies to overturn the outcome of the election in the southern state. Prosecutor Fani Willis plans to decide on possible charges in August.
mws/uh (afp, dpa, reuters)