Trump braces for third possible indictment as grand jury meets

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Former President Donald Trump is bracing for a third possible criminal indictment this year as a Washington grand jury meets Thursday to review evidence in special counsel Jack Smith’s probe into the effort to block the transition of power following the 2020 election. 

Smith has been investigating numerous ways Trump and those in his orbit sought to unwind the 2020 election, from pushing false claims about election fraud, pressuring Justice Department officials to take action and asking former Vice President Mike Pence to reject his ceremonial duty to certify President Biden’s victory.

When those efforts failed, Trump’s Jan. 6 address encouraged attendees to “fight like hell” and march to the Capitol, where his supporters violently ransacked the building.

Trump’s attorneys met with Smith on Thursday morning.

While NBC reported they were told to expect an indictment, Trump denied that in a later statement.

“My attorneys had a productive meeting with the DOJ this morning, explaining in detail that I did nothing wrong, was advised by many lawyers, and that an Indictment of me would only further destroy our Country. No indication of notice was given during the meeting — Do not trust the Fake News on anything!” Trump wrote in a post on social media.

While Trump sought to counter reporting, he previously shared that he received a letter notifying he is a target in the probe, noting that often means an indictment is imminent.

The special counsel’s office declined to comment on the meeting, and Trump’s attorneys did not respond to a request for comment.

Trump, who is leading polls for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, released a series of videos on his social media platform Wednesday targeting the probes into him, repeating his debunked claims of election fraud and turning to a favorite phrase in blasting inquiries into him as a witch hunt.

“They don’t go after the people who cheated in the election, they only go after the people who report on, or question the cheating,” he said.

The normal buzz of activity at the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse in Washington has continued, even as dozens of reporters near the grand jury room await the potential indictment.

Reporters spotted the grand jurors entering the courthouse earlier Thursday. The grand jury typically meets Tuesdays and Thursdays, although they were not seen Tuesday earlier this week.

Various media organizations have also assembled satellite trucks outside the courthouse, nestled between the White House and the Capitol along Pennsylvania Avenue, in preparation for the high-stakes proceedings.

It’s unclear what specific charges Trump will face, though reporting on the target letter suggests he could face charges for conspiring to deprive citizens the “free exercise” of constitutional rights like voting.

If convicted, offenders face a fine or up to 10 years in prison. 

The inclusion of a conspiracy charge also suggests there could be other co-defendants included in the indictment. 

A model prosecution memo from former prosecutors analyzing the case also suggests the former president could face charges on conspiracy to defraud the United States after creating fake electoral certificates that were submitted to Congress. 

Creating those fake electoral certificates could also implicate statutes that prohibit obstruction of an official proceeding, one of the charges also leveled at numerous rioters who entered the building, including members of the Oath Keepers and military and chauvinist group the Proud Boys.

Trump was indicted in New York earlier this year on charges stemming from efforts to conceal hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels. 

And he is facing federal charges in a 37-count indictment in relation to the Mar-a-Lago probe after mishandling classified records. 

Zach Schonfeld and Brett Samuels contributed.

This story was updated at 1:42 p.m.



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