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August 01, 2023 04:12 PM UTC

The Big One: Trump Indicted Over 2020 Coup Attempt

  • by: Colorado Pols

UPDATE: Donald Trump’s Colorado co-conspirators loom large in today’s indictment:


As the Washington Post reports this afternoon, Stormy Daniels is now the least of ex-President Donald Trump’s problems:

A grand jury has indicted former president Donald Trump for a raft of alleged crimes stemming from his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election…

About 5 p.m., reporters observed a prosecutor with special counsel Jack Smith’s office and the foreperson of a grand jury that has been active for many months examining the events surrounding Jan. 6 deliver the indictment to a magistrate judge in federal court in Washington, D.C.

That grand jury panel gathered Tuesday, and left the courthouse in the afternoon. The indictment is the first known charge or charges to be filed in the special counsel probe of the machinations that led up to the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol, and its aftermath.

The first charges, but very likely not the last:

A key area of interest for Smith has been the conduct of a handful of lawyers who sought to turn Trump’s defeat into victory by trying to convince state, local, federal and judicial authorities that Biden’s 2020 election win was illegitimate or tainted by fraud.

Investigators have sought to determine to what degree these lawyers — particularly Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, John Eastman, Kurt Olsen and Kenneth Chesebro, as well as then-Justice Department lawyer Jeffrey Clark — were following specific instructions from Trump or others, and what those instructions were…

Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, January 6th 2021.

Colorado-licensed attorney Jenna Ellis was censured by regulators earlier this year as part of an agreement that allowed her to keep her license to practice law in exchange for frank admissions to making “reckless, knowing, or intentional misrepresentations” about the 2020 presidential election. The judge in the case wrote in his opinion that Ellis made these false statements so “with a mental state that was ‘at least reckless,’” and that she “undermined the American public’s confidence in the presidential election.” Rudy Giuliani and former CU conservative scholar John Eastman are both embroiled in disbarment proceedings, with Giuliani’s law license already suspended.

Now it looks like censure and/or disbarment may not be the end of the road for Trump’s Colorado-heavy legal team.

But for today, it’s all about Trump. The previous criminal indictments against Trump over hush money payments to Stormy Daniels, followed by the much more substantive yet still debatable indictments over Trump’s handling of classified documents after leaving office, both pale in terms of historical significance before criminal charges that Trump attempted to overturn American democracy, and remain in office after losing the 2020 presidential election. These are the charges that Americans have waited over two years to see brought while the January 6th rioters Trump incited to violence were methodically pursued and charged for their crimes. With every conviction of a January 6th insurrectionist, the failure to charge the highest levels of the conspiracy became a glaring contradiction.

No longer, folks. We have finally arrived at the moment of accountability the whole world has been waiting for since the violence in the halls of Congress on January 6th, 2021 laid bare the fragility of our democratic institutions. For the sake of the nation’s future, it’s the case among all of these that must not fail.


24 thoughts on “The Big One: Trump Indicted Over 2020 Coup Attempt

  1. Another day, another indictment. <sigh>

    I expect F.D.F.Q. to rattle his tin cup, demand more money, and do his best rendition of Christ on the Cross, exhorting his followers by shouting out, "Forgive them Father for they know not what they do" "MAGAdonians, I will be your retribution!"

    I predict a modest bump in his polling numbers over the next week.

  2. Dear GOPers,

    Yet another 4-count reason to keep stuffing your 2024 campaign contributions into the bottomless tangerine diaper bin . . .

    After Paying Lawyers, Trump’s PAC Is Nearly Broke

    Former President Donald J. Trump’s political action committee, which began last year with $105 million, now has less than $4 million left in its account after paying tens of millions of dollars in legal fees for Mr. Trump and his associates.

    The dwindling cash reserves in Mr. Trump’s PAC, called Save America, have fallen to such levels that the group has made the highly unusual request of a $60 million refund of a donation it had previously sent to a pro-Trump super PAC. This money had been intended for television commercials to help Mr. Trump’s candidacy, but as he is the dominant front-runner for the Republican nomination in 2024, his most immediate problems appear to be legal, not political.

    PS. but, there are alternatives . . .

    DeSantis’s Super PAC Burned Through $34 Million as He Slid in Polls

    Running their government campaign just like a 1%er business (. . . hoping for yuge bailouts and subsidies)!

    Conservative must mean just keep throwing money at the problems and hope that someday someone will finally come up with better candidates?

  3. It seems that special counsel Jack Smith is being very cautious — two of the statutes he's citing only carry penalties of up to 5 years.  The third statute does allow a sentence of up to 20 years, however.

    I guess charging Trump with sedition would have been seen as piling on, even if it was a more apt description of the crimes committed.

    1. Sedition would be a hard charge to prove against trump.  I think the charges brought make sense based on the evidence described in the indictment. 

  4. re:  "The previous criminal indictments against Trump over hush money payments to Stormy Daniels,"

    might you be willing to more accurately describe what those 34 counts in New York actually are? 

    Bragg's announcement said the charges were for "falsifying New York business records in order to conceal damaging information and unlawful activity from American voters before and after the 2016 election. "  Instances included payments to Stormy Daniels — but also involved payments to reimburse AMI for "catch and kill" efforts on the doorman's story about another Trump child and money to "Woman #1" who alleged a sexual relationship.  The announcement clarifies "AMI, which later admitted its conduct was unlawful in an agreement with federal prosecutors, made false entries in its business records concerning the true purpose of the $150,000 payment" to repay them for Woman #1.

    1. I doubt Trump ever goes to prison for any of this. It seems Smith and DOJ's game is to convince him it will be too expensive to stay in the race for POTUS.

      Handing down more and more indictments keeps jacking up the legal fees. At some point, even Trump is smart enough to see the declining ROI.

  5. Finally finished reading the indictment. It is a substantive 45 pages. I can feel the weight of proof behind every word.

    It's heartbreaking that half our country just doesn't care.

  6. So many good quotes; so little time: ‘Conspiracy Shit Beamed Down From The Mothership’. TPM for the Win.

    The Weird Role Of The White House Counsel

    Books will be written on the extraordinary role and odd position that the White House counsel’s office found itself in during the Trump presidency, but none more awkward than when the occupant of the White House was directing a coup attempt. A few standout examples from the indictment:

    • Deputy White House counsel to Trump in December 2020: “[T]here is no world, there is no option in which you do not leave the White House [o]n January 20th.” The deputy White House counsel is not named in the indictment but at the time it was Patrick Philbin.
    • On the evening of Jan. 6, 2021, “the White House Counsel called [Trump] to ask him to withdraw any objections and allow the certification. [Trump] refused.” The White House counsel is not named in the indictment but at the time it was Pat Cipollone.
    • Trump “deliberately excluded his White House Counsel from the [Jan. 4] meeting because the White House Counsel previously had pushed back on [Trump’s] false claims of election fraud.”

    The indictment makes it much more clear than it had been for me why Cipollone and Philbin declined to defend Trump at his second impeachment (unlike the first impeachment, where they did defend him). They had tried to stop his couping, they were fact witnesses to his couping, and they were too deeply compromised to represent him against the charges of couping.

    1. Extremely Damning

      We’ll be coming back to this in the days and weeks ahead, but let’s mark it now so we don’t forget: We knew that the couping continued late into the evening of Jan. 6, even after the riot at the Capitol and been brought under control and Congress reconvened to complete the certification of the Electoral College vote. But the indictment puts more meat on that bone, and it is striking how much clearer it is now that the violence had created the exact kind of disruption that the coup plotters wanted to help delay the certification and buy them time to create more doubt in the minds of members of Congress so that the whole “mess” they created could get kicked back to state legislatures in key swing states. Stick a pin in this.

    2. Considering how far they went in the impeachment, I am surprised and relieved that when this moment came, Cipollone and Philbin did their jobs as legal counsel for the office of the White House and not its occupant.

  7. The Structure of the Indictment. Marcy Wheeler.

    The other most important part of this indictment is who is named as a co-conspirator (and who might well be charged, as far as we know, today, separately by sealed indictment):

    • Co-Conspirator 1, an attorney who was willing to spread knowingly false claims and pursue strategies that the Defendant’s 2020 re-election campaign attorneys would not. [Rudy Giuliani]
    • Co-Conspirator 2, an attorney who devised and attempted to implement a strategy to leverage the Vice President’s ceremonial role overseeing the certification proceeding to obstruct the certification of the presidential election. [John Eastman]
    • Co-Conspirator 3, an attorney whose unfounded claims of election fraud the Defendant privately acknowledged to others sounded “crazy.” Nevertheless, the Defendant embraced and publicly amplified Co-Conspirator 3’s disinformation. [Sidney Powell]
    • Co-Conspirator 4, a Justice Department official who worked on civil matters and who, with the Defendant, attempted to use the Justice Department to open sham election crime investigations and influence state legislatures with knowingly false claims of election fraud. [Jeffrey Clark]
    • Co-Conspirator 5, an attorney who assisted in devising and attempting to implement a plan to submit fraudulent slates of presidential electors to obstruct the certification proceeding. [Kenneth Chesebro]
    • Co-Conspirator 6, a political consultant who helped implement a plan to submit fraudulent slates of presidential electors to obstruct the certification proceeding. [Mike Roman]
  8. Why oh why is a certain member of Congress who tweeted out "today is 1776," and shrilly announced to Congress on Jan. 6 that she had constituents outside, and tweeted out that Pelosi had been removed from the House Chambers, not something like co-conspirator #7 (or probably a bit lower)?

    1. Not only that but apparently, they have Trump as saying to, "You're too damned honest." 

      So, the defendant vouches for the credibility of one of the prosecution's star witnesses.

      1. Yep.  And Pence took contemporaneous notes of their conversations, and those notes will likely be admitted at trial (over a hearsay objection by trump).  The public may get a good lesson about the hearsay rule and some of its exception.  Nerdy goodness for the good of the nation.

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