Another Indictment: The Push To Put Trump In Prison Ahead Of 2024

The former president has now become the most high-profile January 6 defendant.

Written by Hudson Crozier

Yesterday, a federal grand jury indicted former President Donald Trump on four felony counts for his actions surrounding the 2020 election. Special Counsel Jack Smith accuses Trump of obstructing the Electoral College vote on January 6, 2021, and of three “conspiracies” to “defraud the United States,” disenfranchise voters and undermine election processes.

Why it matters: Trump’s arraignment is expected to come Thursday. Despite the political nature of Smith’s case, the system is in his favor; Trump faces a jury in the liberal city of Washington, D.C., and an Obama-appointed judge who has been extremely tough on the January 6 defendants.

  • Hard to prove: Much of Smith’s “conspiracy” narrative relies on the claim that Trump deliberately lied and didn’t believe his own claims about election fraud. Smith also alleges that Trump “exploited” the Capitol riot by waiting too long to respond; Trump explicitly called for peace that day.

The more serious allegations: Smith also focuses on Trump’s efforts to challenge the Electoral College vote, alleging that his use of alternate electors did not “satisfy legal requirements.” When former Vice President Mike Pence told Trump he didn’t have the authority to challenge the vote on a phone call, Trump allegedly replied, “You’re too honest.”

Reactions: Predictably, Democrats in Congress cheered the indictment, while Republicans mostly attacked it. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis criticized Washington juries without addressing the allegations. Vivek Ramaswamy called the indictments a “banana republic” effort to eliminate political opposition. President Joe Biden has kept to his strategy of remaining silent on his political rival’s legal troubles.

  • 2024: Pence, who testified in front of the grand jury, said that “anyone who puts himself over the Constitution should never be president.” Trump can still run if convicted, though it remains unclear both if he would be able to run from prison and what would happen if he won.