Trump 'expecting indictment' after receiving letter saying he is a target in US 2020 election probe

19 July 2023, 02:52

Trump says he expects indictment
Trump says he expects indictment. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Former US president Donald Trump has said he expects to be indicted after receiving a letter informing him that he is a target of the Justice Department's probe into efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election

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New federal charges, on top of existing state and federal counts in New York and Florida and a separate election interference investigation nearing conclusion in Georgia, would add to the list of legal problems for Mr Trump.

He revealed on Tuesday that he had received a target letter in a post on his Truth Social platform, saying he anticipated being indicted.

Mr Trump wrote that "they have now effectively indicted me three times ... with a probably fourth coming from Atlanta", and added in capital letters: "This witch hunt is all about election interference and a complete and total political weaponisation of law enforcement."

Such a letter often precedes an indictment and is used to advise individuals under investigation that prosecutors have gathered evidence linking them to a crime.

Mr Trump received one soon before being charged last month in a separate investigation into the illegal retention of classified documents.

A spokesman for special counsel Jack Smith, whose office is leading the investigation, declined to comment.

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Large crowds of President Trump supporters descending on US Capitol Building after Save America March
Large crowds of President Trump supporters descending on US Capitol Building after Save America March. Picture: Alamy

Legal experts have said potential charges could include conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of an official proceeding, in this case Congress's certification of President Joe Biden's electoral victory.

Mr Smith's probe has centred on a broad range of efforts by Mr Trump and allies to keep him in office, including the role played by lawyers in pressing for the overturning of results.

More than 1,000 people accused of participating in the January 6 riot at the US Capitol have also been charged as part of the investigation.

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Prosecutors have questioned multiple Trump administration officials before a grand jury in Washington, including former vice president Mike Pence, who was repeatedly pressured by Mr Trump to ignore his constitutional duty and block the counting in Congress of electoral votes on January 6.

They have also interviewed other Trump advisers and local election officials who endured a pressure campaign from the former president about overturning election results in their states.

Mr Trump remains the Republican Party's dominant frontrunner, despite indictments in New York arising from hush money payments during his 2016 campaign and in Florida, which seem to have had little impact on his standing in the crowded Republican field.

The indictments have also helped his campaign raise millions of dollars from supporters, though he raised far less after the second than the first, raising questions about whether subsequent charges will have the same impact.

Mr Trump was indicted last month on 37 federal felony counts in relation to accusations of illegally retaining hundreds of classified documents at his Florida estate.

He has pleaded not guilty.