Trump criminal probe

Former President Donald Trump revealed on Tuesday that he had been notified via a letter that he is now a target of the Justice Department’s investigation into attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. This notification suggests that U.S. prosecutors might soon press charges against him.

In addition to the existing state and federal charges in New York and Florida, as well as an ongoing separate investigation into election interference in Georgia, new federal charges would further compound Trump’s legal troubles as he pursues the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

Trump shared the news of the target letter on his Truth Social platform, stating that he received it on Sunday night and expects to be indicted. Typically, a target letter precedes an indictment and serves as a notice to individuals under investigation that prosecutors have collected evidence linking them to a crime. Trump himself received a similar letter before being charged last month in a separate investigation regarding the unlawful retention of classified documents.

A spokesperson for special counsel Jack Smith, who is leading the investigation, declined to comment on the matter.

Legal experts have indicated that potential charges against Trump may include conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of an official proceeding, specifically the certification of President Joe Biden’s electoral victory by Congress.

Smith’s investigative team has been casting a wide net in its examination of Trump and his allies’ efforts to impede the transfer of power to Biden, particularly in the days leading up to the January 6th Capitol riot. This event saw Trump supporters storm the building in an attempt to disrupt the certification of state electoral votes in Congress. Over a thousand individuals implicated in the riot have been charged.

The focus of Smith’s probe encompasses various actions by Trump and his allies to maintain his presidency, including the involvement of lawyers in pushing for the overturning of election results. It also encompasses plans for fraudulent elector slates in multiple battleground states won by Biden, intending to submit false electoral certificates to Congress.

Prosecutors have interviewed numerous Trump administration officials before a grand jury in Washington, including former Vice President Mike Pence, who faced repeated pressure from Trump to disregard his constitutional duty and block the counting of electoral votes on January 6th.

Other individuals questioned by prosecutors include former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and local election officials from states such as Michigan and New Mexico, who were targeted by the then-president’s pressure campaign to overturn election results. Giuliani’s lawyer stated on Tuesday that he did not receive a target letter.

Trump consistently denies any wrongdoing, reiterating this stance in his Tuesday post, where he asserted his right to protest an election he believes was rigged and stolen. He drew a parallel to the Democrats’ protests against him in 2016 and those carried out throughout history.

Despite facing indictments in New York related to hush money payments during his 2016 campaign and in Florida, Trump continues to be the leading contender for the Republican Party’s nomination in 2024. These indictments seem to have had minimal impact on his popularity within the crowded GOP field. They have even helped his campaign raise millions of dollars from supporters, although the fundraising rate decreased after the second indictment, raising doubts about the potential impact of subsequent charges.

Shortly after revealing the new letter, a fundraising committee supporting Trump’s candidacy began soliciting contributions, framing the investigation as another act of election interference by the “Deep State” to suppress the voice of the Silent Majority.

Trump was scheduled to travel to Iowa on Tuesday for a town hall taping with Fox News host Sean Hannity.

The Trump indictments have posed political challenges for some of his rivals, who must tread carefully given his strong support among many primary voters within the party.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Trump’s most significant contender, addressed the letter during a press conference in South Carolina, stating that he had not seen it. However, he did offer his strongest critique to date of Trump’s inaction on January 6th. DeSantis stated that Trump should have responded more decisively during the events but emphasized that criminalizing those actions was a separate matter.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who previously criticized Trump for his actions on January 6th, accused Democrats of attempting to weaponize the government to target their primary opponent.

Since leaving office, Trump has increasingly downplayed the events of January 6th, referring to the rally he held that day as a “lovefest” and “a beautiful thing.” He has also shown support for defendants imprisoned for their alleged involvement in the insurrection, pledging to pardon a large portion of them and issuing an official apology if reelected.

The purpose of a target letter is to inform a potential defendant of their right to appear before a grand jury. Trump mentioned in his post that he has been given a brief four-day period to report to the Grand Jury, which typically signifies an imminent arrest and indictment. There has been no immediate response from his aides to inquiries seeking further details.

Prosecutors in Georgia are conducting a separate investigation into Trump’s efforts to reverse his election loss in that state. The top prosecutor in Fulton County expects to announce charging decisions next month.

Trump stated in his Tuesday post that he has now been effectively indicted three times and anticipates a possible fourth indictment from Atlanta. He emphasized that the investigation is a witch hunt centered around election interference and a complete politicization of law enforcement.

Trump was indicted last month on 37 federal felony counts related to allegations of unlawfully retaining classified documents at his Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago. He has pleaded not guilty, and a judge in Fort Pierce, Florida, held a pretrial conference in the case on Tuesday, expressing her intention to determine a trial date soon.

Note: Portions of this report were contributed by Jill Colvin in New York and Alanna Durkin Richer in Boston. For more information on Donald Trump-related investigations, visit [insert URL].

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