Trump Gets Letter Saying He Is a Target of DOJ Jan. 6 Probe
Former President Donald Trump said he has been notified that he is a target in the Justice Department’s investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, signaling that he is likely to be charged with federal crimes.
The letter stated that he is a target of the grand jury investigating election-related actions, indicating that prosecutors have specifically zeroed in on his actions and have substantial evidence that he committed crimes.
Trump said he was given “a very short 4 days to report to the Grand Jury” for testimony. He said he expects to be charged because such a move “almost always means an arrest and indictment.”
It’s customary for prosecutors to give an investigation target the opportunity to testify before a grand jury and make a case for why there shouldn’t be an indictment. However, Trump probably will decline to do so, as he has in other cases in which he was eventually charged.
The notice also gives Trump’s lawyers an opportunity to request a meeting with Smith’s team or other Justice Department officials to make a final pitch against charges, assuming they haven’t done so already.
A spokesman for Smith and the Justice Department declined to comment.
If the Justice Department brings charges against Trump in the Jan. 6 investigation, it will mark an aggressive and unprecedented development. Trump is already under federal indictment for allegedly mishandling classified materials and has been indicted in state court in Manhattan over hush money payments to a porn star ahead of the 2016 election. He is currently the frontrunner to be the Republican candidate for president in next year’s election.
The Justice Department’s decision to charge Trump under President Joe Biden — his Democratic rival in the last presidential race and potential opponent if Trump is the 2024 Republican nominee — is also expected to send shock waves through the two-party US political system and sets in motion what is likely to be a ferocious legal battle that could make its way to the US Supreme Court.
Reaction to Trump’s announcement was swift, with Republicans claiming the Biden administration is targeting Trump for political reasons.
“If you notice, recently President Trump went up at the polls and was actually surpassing President Biden for reelection,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told reporters. “So what did they do now? Weaponize government to go after their number one opponent.”
It isn’t clear what specific charges might be brought against Trump, but the Justice Department has successfully prosecuted individuals for their actions related to the Jan. 6 attack with crimes ranging from interference in an official government proceeding to seditious conspiracy.
It also remains to be seen if any of Trump’s associates are charged. A congressional committee that investigated the events leading up to and on Jan. 6 referred not only Trump for criminal prosecution, but also conservative lawyer John Eastman. A lawyer for Eastman couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Trump’s Track Record
Trump has a track record of previewing legal developments against him and using his public platforms to try to control the narratives surrounding them. For example, Trump announced he had been indicted in the classified documents probe before the charges were announced.
Smith has been leading the sprawling investigation into actions taken by Trump, his allies and his lawyers in the weeks and days before the Jan. 6 attack. Avenues that have been explored by prosecutors include efforts to organize slates of false electors in battleground states that Trump lost and to pressure former Vice President Mike Pence to interfere with the certification of the results by Congress.
In the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case, Trump was notified he was a target on May 19. His lawyers met with Justice Department officials on June 5 after requesting a sitdown; he was indicted three days later.
The judge overseeing Trump’s criminal case in Florida over his handling of classified documents is scheduled to hold a pretrial hearing Tuesday at 2 p.m. in Fort Pierce to hear arguments from prosecutors and the former president’s lawyers regarding the handling of classified evidence in the case and timing of a trial.