The long awaited, long speculated upon indictment of Donald Trump for his attempted coup plot has finally arrived. January 6th, 2021 was a horrible day for all people who respect the United States Constitution, myself included. Trump and his cult did their best to end our country.
If you haven’t read the actual indictment, I urge you to do so. It is only 45 pages, and without much legalese or jargon to slow you down. Here is a PDF version, you can find it elsewhere with a simple web search.
After reading it yesterday afternoon, I had a few unanswered questions that I have found some answers for, and perhaps more will be available this morning.
1. Who are the six unnamed co-conspirators? And will they have to face trial in the future?
Five of the six were fairly easy to identify by clues in the indictment itself.
Co-Conspirator 1 is Rudy Giuliani.
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.
…Co-Conspirator | responded with words to the effect of, “We don’t have the evidence, but we have lots of theories.”
Co-Conspirator 2 is John Eastman, and his lawyer has already put out a statement confirming this.
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.
Co-Conspirator 2 conceded that he “[didn’t] know enough about facts on the ground” in Arizona, but nonetheless told the Arizona House Speaker to decertify and “let the courts sort it out.”
Also on January 4, when Co-Conspirator 2 acknowledged to the Defendant’s Senior Advisor that no court would support his proposal, the Senior Advisor told Co-Conspirator 2, “[Y]ou’re going to cause riots in the streets.” Co-Conspirator 2 responded that there had previously been points in the nation’s history where violence was necessary to protect the republic.
Co-Conspirator 3 is obviously cuckoo-bananas Sidney “Kraken” Powell.
Co-Conspirator 3, an attorney whose unfounded claims of election fraud the Defendant privately acknowledged to others sounded “crazy.” Nonetheless, the Defendant embraced and publicly amplified Co-Conspirator 3’s disinformation.
On November 25, Co-Conspirator 3 filed a lawsuit against the Governor of Georgia falsely alleging “massive election fraud” accomplished through the voting machine company’s election software and hardware. Before the lawsuit was even filed, the Defendant retweeted a post promoting it. The Defendant did this despite the fact that when he had discussed Co- Conspirator 3’s far-fetched public claims regarding the voting machine company in private with advisors, the Defendant had conceded that they were unsupported and that Co-Conspirator 3 sounded “crazy.”
Ms. Powell famously told a Fox News producer that she had gotten the evidence from a friend who heard it whispered in her ear. I’ve never decided if Ms. Powell was serious, or being metaphorical, but I lean towards her believing that spirits or maybe even some god whisper bits of evidence about Hugo Chávez, Italian satellites and what not in receptive ears.
Co-Conspirator 4 is Jeffrey Clark
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.
On the afternoon of January 3, Co-Conspirator 4 spoke with a Deputy White House Counsel. The previous month, the Deputy White House Counsel had informed the Defendant that “there is no world, there is no option in which you do not leave the White House [o]n January 20th.” Now, the same Deputy White House Counsel tried to dissuade Co-Conspirator 4 from assuming the role of Acting Attorney General. The Deputy White House Counsel reiterated to Co-Conspirator 4 that there had not been outcome-determinative fraud in the election and that if the Defendant remained in office nonetheless, there would be “riots in every major city in the United States.” Co-Conspirator 4 responded, “Well, [Deputy White House Counsel], that’s why there’s an Insurrection Act.”
Mr. Clark was the EPA attorney who Trump was going to appoint as Attorney General, but the entire Justice Department threatened to resign if Trump did this, so after a tense few hours, Trump withdrew this plan.
Co-Conspirator 5 is probably Kenneth Chesebro, who I admit I don’t exactly recall his part in the coup attempt, but I do remember his name.
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.
I just talked to the gentleman who did that memo, [Co- Conspirator 5]. His idea is basically that all of us (GA, WI, AZ, PA, etc.) have our electors send in their votes (even though the votes aren’t legal under federal law — because they’re not signed by the Governor); so that members of Congress can fight about whether they should be counted on January 6″. (They could potentially argue that they’re not bound by federal law because they’re Congress and make the law, etc.) Kind of wild/creative — I’m happy to discuss. My comment to him was that I guess there’s no harm in it, (legally at least) — i.e. we would just be sending in “fake” electoral votes to Pence so that “someone” in Congress can make an objection when they start counting votes, and start arguing that the “fake” votes should be counted.
On December 13, Co-Conspirator 5 sent Co-Conspirator 1 an email memorandum that further confirmed that the conspirators’ plan was not to use the fraudulent electors only in the circumstance that the Defendant’s litigation was successful in one of the targeted states—instead, the plan was to falsely present the fraudulent slates as an alternative to the legitimate slates at Congress’s certification proceeding.
Co-Conspirator 6 is the hardest to ascertain, there aren’t quite enough bread crumbs, and it could be a few different people.
Co-Conspirator 6, a political consultant who helped implement a plan to submit fraudulent slates of presidential electors to obstruct the certification proceeding.
Could Number 6 be Peter Navorro? Or Michael Roman? Or some other criminal? We’ll find out soon enough.
2. Who are the Senators that were part of the plot?
From the indictment:
Co-Conspirator 6 attempted to confirm phone numbers for six United States Senators whom the Defendant had directed Co-Conspirator 1 to call and attempt to enlist in further delaying the certification.
The Jan. 6 select committee’s final report said Giuliani placed calls that evening to Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), as well as Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).
Hawley, Cruz and Jordan all later voted to decertify Pennsylvania’s and Arizona’s presidential electors.
So either Congress got this wrong, Jack Smith got this wrong, or one of these Senators didn’t answer the phone, or something. Regardless, these Senators should have to be grilled about their part in the coup attempt, without fear or favor. If they were part of the coup, they should not serve in the Senate because they were insurrectionists.
3. Who is the judge who has been assigned the case?
Perhaps to balance against MAGA Judge Aileen Cannon, the judge in the classified documents case, the universe assigned Judge Tanya Chutkan to this case. While she was appointed by President Obama, Judge Chutkan was confirmed in the Senate by a 95-0 vote, and she is not thought to be anything but impartial.
She was the judge who issued this noteworthy ruling in Civil Action 21-cv-2769 (TSC), Trump v. Bennie Thompson
She has already tried many of the Jan 6th “foot soldiers”, and is not sympathetic. In fact, per Josh Marshall of TPM, Chutkan is known for imposing longer sentences for guilty insurrectionists than the prosecutors ask for.
The American Republic and the Constitution that sets out its rules and structure are the anchor of the law and the rule of law in this country. Attempts to overthrow the government, to overthrow the Constitution, are the gravest crimes since they challenge the basis of every other law. Murder may come with a stiffer sentence, but attempts to overthrow the Republic itself is still a graver offense.
I noticed this quote from Judge Tanya Chutkan, the D.C. district court judge who has drawn the Trump coup indictment: “It has to be made clear that trying to violently overthrow the government, trying to stop the peaceful transition of power and assaulting law enforcement officers in that effort is going to be met with absolutely certain punishment.” …Chutkan is known for her tough sentences for January 6th defendants.
4. Why is only Trump on this indictment, and will the case be tried before the election?
Informed speculation on this is that having multiple defendants necessitates longer trial times as the multiple groups of lawyers jockey and delay, file motions as is their right, etc. In other words, having a single defendant will probably speed the trial up. However, trials in America are ponderously slow, and take a long time to resolve. The courts already have over-full dockets, and we don’t actually know if this case will be tried and finished before November 2024. We as a nation can hope, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Have the co-conspirators flipped? Or will they have their own indictment(s) soon? Again, we don’t know this, yet, but I assume we will sooner than later.
Trump wants to delay all of his trials as long as possible:
John Lauro, a lawyer for former president Donald Trump, pushed back Wednesday on special counsel Jack Smith’s desire to hold a “speedy trial” on charges related to Trump’s effort to reverse the 2020 election results.
“Well, the speedy trial right is the defendant’s right, not the government’s right,” Lauro said during an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show. “So we’re entitled to understand what the charges are. We’re entitled to do our own investigation.”
“The special counsel or the Justice Department, the Biden Justice Department, has had three years to investigate this,” Lauro continued. “To take President Trump to trial in 90 days, of course, is absurd. The question is why do they want to do that. If you want to seek justice, then you need to offer … President Trump an opportunity to get a hold of all the evidence and understand what the facts are.”
Smith suggested the idea of a speedy trial — defined as 70 days in federal law — during a brief statement Tuesday after the four-count indictment against Trump was announced.
5. Are “Talking Indictments” sometimes called “Speaking indictments” good?
A lawyer guest on Ari Melber’s The Beat program on MSNBC made the point that he doesn’t like “talking indictments”. I guess he prefers court documents to be heavily footnoted with legal opinions and language only lawyers use. I understand his point, and I also think that Count 3 and Count 4 of this particular indictment are fairly sparse on details, I would like more here. Perhaps it was rushed out a bit to get on the judicial calendar before the Fulton County DA’s impending case? Or for other reasons? Or I am wrong because I am not a lawyer?
As a layperson, I appreciate “talking indictments” because they form a narrative, but there is no reason that subsequent superseding indictments cannot veer into standard legal tropes, citing case law.
A lot of the narrative was already established by the Congressional Jan 6th committee.
In taking the monumental step of charging a former president with attempting to steal an American election, Jack Smith, the Justice Department special counsel, relied on an extraordinary narrative, but one the country knew well.
For a year and a half, the special House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol introduced Americans to a sprawling cast of characters and laid out in painstaking detail the many ways in which former President Donald J. Trump tried to overturn the 2020 election. In doing so, it provided a road map of sorts for the 45-page indictment Mr. Smith released on Tuesday.
“In a lot of ways, the committee’s work provided this path,” said Soumya Dayananda, who served as a senior investigator for the House Jan. 6 panel. “The committee served as educating the country about what the former president did, and this is finally accountability. The congressional committee wasn’t going to be able to bring accountability; that was in the hands of the Department of Justice.”
Mr. Smith’s document — while far slimmer than the 845-page tome produced by the House investigative committee — contained a narrative that was nearly identical: An out-of-control president, refusing to leave office, was willing to lie and harm the country’s democracy in an attempt to stay in power.
(click here to continue reading Trump Jan. 6 Indictment Relies Heavily on House Panel’s Work – The New York Times.)
There are undoubtedly other questions I have, but this post is already over 2,000 words, way over my typical length, I’ll end here.