By Ivan Pentchoukov
Former President Donald Trump said that he received a letter on July 17 informing him that he is a target of the special counsel investigation of the Jan. 6 Capitol breach.
Mr. Trump said the Sunday letter from special counsel Jack Smith gave him four days to report to a grand jury. In a message posted on his social media platform, Truth Social, the former president suggested that the short deadline may mean he would be arrested and indicted.
Mr. Trump called the letter “HORRIFYING NEWS for our country” and framed it with the backdrop of the two other indictments he is facing amid a heated presidential reelection campaign in which he dominated the GOP field.
Mr. Trump was charged earlier this year in connection to payments for a non-disclosure agreement in a state case in New York. He was later charged in a federal case in Miami in connection to his handling of classified documents after leaving the White House.
“THIS WITCH HUNT IS ALL ABOUT ELECTION INTERFERENCE AND A COMPLETE AND TOTAL POLITICAL WEAPONIZATION OF LAW ENFORCEMENT,” Trump wrote.
The Department of Justice has indicted hundreds of people for participating in the breach of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. In two of the most prominent cases, the government convinced juries in Washington that members of the Oath Keepers and the Proudboys, two right-wing groups, were guilty of seditious conspiracy.
Legal experts had previously suggested that the successful prosecution of the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys cases spelled trouble for Trump, who could be snarled with seditious conspiracy charges over parts of the speech he delivered on Jan. 6 and other remarks he made leading up to that day.
Defense attorneys maintained that their clients exercised their First Amendment rights to free speech.
The Proud Boys were convicted even though an FBI informant testified that, to his knowledge, there was no organized plan to storm the building. Instead, he said, “a herd mentality” took hold.
Mr. Smith, the special counsel, is investigating both the classified documents case and the Jan. 6 case.
Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel’s office, declined to comment.
Trump was found not guilty in a Senate impeachment trial over his remarks on and before the Jan. 6 events. The charges against him hinged largely on selective quotations from his speech in the capital that day.
A massive crowd of Trump supporters gathered in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, at the behest of Mr. Trump to protest election irregularities. By that day, nearly every legal election challenge by Mr. Trump’s team had failed in the courts. After hearing Trump speak, the attendees started making their way to the Capitol, where a joint session of Congress was in the process of certifying Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 election. The ensuing breach of the Capitol briefly interrupted the Congressional session.
Democrats have framed the events of Jan. 6 as an “insurrection” and, beginning with the impeachment, have ceaselessly used the attacks to paint Republicans and Trump followers as extremists. Republicans, including Trump, immediately condemned the violence and vandalism and drew a distinction between the largely peaceful crowd of protesters and the small group which engaged in egregious lawbreaking.
More than 1,000 people from 25 states have been indicted on charges related to Jan. 6, according to data maintained by Look Ahead America. Some defendants were detained for more than 800 days before their trials.
At least a half-dozen Jan. 6 defendants have been convicted of seditious conspiracy. The underlying law has been on the books since the end of the Civil War and was intended for use against Southerners bent on rebelling against the federal government.
As defined, a seditious conspiracy means that at least two people worked together to “overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force” the U.S. government, oppose its authority, or prevent a law from being executed.
“We have yet again another example of Joe Biden’s weaponized Department of Justice targeting his top political opponent, Donald Trump,” Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) told reporters during a House GOP press conference on July 18 on Capitol Hill.
Nikki Haley, one of Mr. Trump’s Republican challengers in the race for the White House, did not defend the former president in an appearance on Fox News.
“It’s going to keep on going,” Ms. Haley, who served as Mr. Trump’s United Nations ambassador, said. “It’s just going to continue to be a further and further distraction.”
“And that’s why I’m running,” she continued. “It’s because we need a new generational leader. We can’t keep dealing with this drama.”
Janice Hisle and Jackson Richman contributed to this report.