The 45 pages that skewer Trump’s bid to destroy American democracy
More than 1,000 people charged over the US Capitol riot, millions of pages of evidence compiled by the House January 6 committee, hundreds of hours of depositions of key players – all this has finally been boiled down to a 45-page indictment that accuses Donald Trump of attempting to destroy American democracy.
The former president responded to the indictment with a disgruntled query: "Why didn't they do this 2.5 years ago?" The answer lies in the document itself. It encapsulates an intricate narrative, painstakingly detailed, and imbued with the unflappable legal language employed by special counsel Jack Smith.
This is the third criminal indictment against Trump, and while the initial shock may have subsided, the gravity of its implications remains. Much of the content in the grand jury indictment is familiar, but it is still momentous: it's the first time in US history that a president has been charged with trying to thwart the peaceful transition of power - a cornerstone of American values dating back to 1801.
Smith's indictment is not just swift and to the point, it's also a stark reminder of Trump's refusal to accept his defeat in the 2020 Presidential election. By the fourth sentence, the narrative takes a blunt turn, using the term "lies" with an ease that took American media months to adopt when referring to Trump's false statements.
In an unexpected twist of fate, Trump now stands accused of "fraud", a term he frequently used to lay the groundwork for his efforts to overturn the election results. Smith paints the image of a desperate man, resolved to remain in power at any cost, ready to dismantle everything in his path.
The 45-page indictment unveils a side of Trump as a frustrated individual who, alongside unnamed conspirators, embarked on a relentless, orchestrated plan to undermine the 2020 election. The indictment traces the plot back to November 14, 2020, one day after Trump's campaign lawyers conceded defeat in Arizona.
Throughout the indictment, the phrase "knowing deceit" is pivotal. It alludes to Trump's state of mind, likely a key legal battleground if the case goes to trial. Smith devotes numerous pages to the topic, underscoring the claim that Trump knowingly propagated false allegations of election fraud.
The indictment largely aligns with the January 6 committee's 845-page final report. It delves into the story of fake electors convened in crucial battleground states lost by Trump in a bid to send false electoral certificates to Congress.
One of the most striking elements of the indictment is the disclosure of Vice President Mike Pence's notes, an addition that may prove unnerving for Trump's defense team. It also reveals Trump and Giuliani's continued exploitation of the Capitol riot's violence to sway lawmakers to delay certifying Biden's victory.
However, notably absent is any implication that Trump personally orchestrated the January 6 uprising.
This omission perhaps signals the careful, calculated tone of the indictment and its main purpose: not merely to record history but to build a solid legal case. Its mission is to substantiate that Trump committed criminal acts that threaten the essence of the American experiment, and the stakes are high: the 2024 presidential election, the future of American democracy, and a potential 55-year prison sentence.