Status: 09.12.2023, 08:53 a.m.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump © Julia Nikhinson/CNP/Imago
The accusers against former President Trump are upping the ante. New evidence could prove his connection to the insurrection at the Capitol.
Washington, D.C. – Federal prosecutors on Tuesday (Dec. 5) accused former President Donald Trump of long lying about elections and inciting violence. They claim he "sent" supporters to the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, to criminally block the election results.
In a new court filing, prosecutors working for special prosecutor Jack Smith went further in their attempt to link Trump to the insurrection than they did in their August indictment. They stated that at Trump's criminal trial in Washington, which is currently scheduled for early March, they intend to present evidence of his actions before the November 2020 presidential election and his subsequent alleged threats. It's about proving his motive, intent, and preparation for trying to undermine Joe Biden's rightful election victory.
Storming of the Capitol: Evidence "is admissible"
"Evidence of the defendant's embrace of particularly violent and notorious rioters after the conspiracy is admissible to prove the motive and intent of the defendant on January 6 – that he sent supporters, including groups like the Proud Boys, which he knew were angry and whom he now refers to as 'patriots,' to the Capitol, to achieve the criminal goal of obstructing congressional certification," prosecutors claimed in a nine-page motion.
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"At trial, the prosecution will present evidence of this behavior – including the defendant's public advocacy and encouragement of violence." In addition, witnesses will testify about the threats and harassment they received after the defendant targeted them in connection with the 2020 election, prosecutors said.
In a written statement, Trump's spokesman Steven Cheung accused District Attorney Smith of trying to interfere in next year's presidential election, in which Trump is considered the front-runner for the Republican nomination. Although it's not uncommon for prosecutors to release new evidence and allegations as a trial approaches, Cheung criticized prosecutors for "trying to introduce allegations that were nowhere to be found in the August indictment."
"Trump will not be deterred and will continue to tell the truth to corrupt, gun-toting rulers and law enforcement," Cheung said.
On January 6, 2021, pro-Trump protesters stormed the U.S. Capitol. © Michael Nigro/Imago
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Courts in the U.S. typically do not allow prosecutors to present evidence of crimes that a defendant is not charged with. However, judges make exceptions if the prosecution can prove that the evidence is closely related to the alleged crime or to a person's intent, motive and knowledge. Trump's lawyers can respond to the prosecution's request by arguing that such evidence should be ruled out as seditious or irrelevant.
Trump is said to have lied as early as 2016
In their notice to the court, parts of which were redacted in accordance with court rules, prosecutors argued that Trump's unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud and rigging were part of his political agenda even before his 2016 election. Trump is using false accusations to dismiss past defeats and undermine future ones, laying the "foundation" for his criminal plan to remain in power unlawfully in 2020.
As early as November 2012, according to the complaint, Trump had tweeted for no reason that voting machines had transferred votes from then-Republican candidate Mitt Romney to President Barack Obama. During the 2016 presidential election, Trump repeatedly and falsely claimed that there had been "large-scale fraud," Deputy Special Counsels Molly Gaston and Thomas Windom wrote.
After losing the Iowa primary in February of this year, Trump declared on Twitter that Senator Ted Cruz "didn't win Iowa, he stole it illegally." If Trump wasn't the clear winner by the GOP convention in July, he told CNN, "there would probably be riots."
In another part of the dossier, prosecutors accused Trump and his campaign of retaliating against those who had rejected his election lies.
When an unnamed Trump "campaign aide" learned on Election Day that the vote count in Detroit was biased against the president, he sent messages to a campaign lawyer there calling for "riots and other methods of obstruction." The next passage in the indictment is redacted, apparently to protect investigative details.
Prosecutors also said they would show that on Nov. 4, 2020, when Biden began taking the lead, "a large number of untrained individuals" flooded the TCF Center in Detroit, where the votes were being counted, and made "unlawful and aggressive challenges." Trump repeatedly made false claims about what was happening, while "in reality, his agent was trying to cause a riot to disrupt the count," prosecutors said.
About the authors
Devlin Barrett writes about the FBI and the Department of Justice and is the author of "October Surprise: How the FBI Tried to Save Itself and Crashed an Election." He was one of the reportage teams that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2018 and 2022. In 2017, he was a co-finalist for the Pulitzer for Feature Writing and the Pulitzer for International Reporting.
Spencer S. Hsu is an investigative reporter, two-time Pulitzer finalist, and a national Emmy Award nominee. Hsu has covered homeland security, immigration, politics in Virginia, and Congress.
In addition, prosecutors said they would present evidence of Trump's attacks on two unnamed election workers in Georgia, even though they knew his claims about them were false and they were subjected to "mean, racist and violent threats and harassment," including death threats. Prosecutors did not name names, but cited Trump's January 2023 tweets about campaign aides Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Shaye Moss; a federal judge ruled in the summer of 2021 that they were slandered by Giuliani.
In their motion, prosecutors argued that Trump's financial support for some of the most violent and notorious actors in the riot and his offer to pardon them testified to his "encouragement of violence."
"Perhaps most importantly," prosecutors concluded, Trump's actions showed "that these individuals acted as he ordered them to" and that the violent disruption of Congress "is exactly what the defendant intended on January 6."
We are currently testing machine translations. This article has been automatically translated from English into German.
This article was first published in English by the "Washingtonpost.com" on December 6, 2023 - as part of a cooperation, it is now also available to IPPEN readers in translation and an abridged version. MEDIA portals.