Former US President Donald Trump was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury in the Justice Department's investigation into efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
The 45-page indictment charges Trump with conspiracy to defraud the US, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against rights. Six others are listed as co-conspirators, but are not named.
The indictment marks the third criminal case against Trump since he left office following another federal case in the state of Florida related to his alleged unlawful retention of classified government documents and efforts to thwart investigators, and a case in New York related to hush money payments to an adult film star.
But the latest indictment marks the most significant case against the ex-president to date. Special counsel Jack Smith had been leading a long-standing investigation into Trump and his political allies, and efforts to prevent President Joe Biden from assuming power after he won the November 2020 polls by 7 million votes.
The grand jury's indictment repeatedly said Trump "knowingly" sought to mislead the American public to ensure that the peaceful transfer of power to Biden would not occur, and "pursued unlawful means of discounting legitimate votes and subverting the election."
"Despite having lost, the Defendant was determined to remain in power. So for more than two months following election day on November 3, 2020, the Defendant spread lies that there had been outcome-determinative fraud in the election and that he had actually won," it said.
"These claims were false and the Defendant knew that they were false. But the Defendant repeated and widely disseminated them anyway--to make his knowingly false claims appear legitimate, create an intense national atmosphere of mistrust and anger, and erode public faith in the administration of the election," it added.
The conspiracy to defraud the US charge is related to Trump's and his allies' alleged efforts to convince state elections officials to subvert election results in seven states -- Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
That included the use of fake electors to submit false election results suggesting Trump won state polls, and the use of the Justice Department "to conduct sham election crime investigations and to send a letter to the targeted states that falsely claimed that the Justice Department had identified significant concerns that may have impacted the election outcome."
Other efforts included attempting to convince former Vice President Mike Pence not to carry out his constitutionally-mandated role of certifying election results, and exploitation of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, said the indictment.
The second and third charges -- conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, and obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding -- are related to efforts to prevent the certification of Electoral College votes.
The conspiracy against rights charge is tied to Trump's and his co-conspirators' alleged efforts "to injure, oppress, threaten, and intimidate one or more persons in the free exercise and enjoyment of a right and privilege secured to them by the Constitution and laws of the United States -- that is, the right to vote, and to have one's vote counted."
Trump quickly issued a statement in which he alleged the case represents "nothing more than the latest corrupt chapter in the continued pathetic attempt by the Biden Crime Family and their weaponized Department of Justice to interfere with the 2024 Presidential Election, in which President Trump is the undisputed frontrunner."
Smith encouraged Americans to read the indictments for themselves, as he had in the classified documents case, maintaining the integrity of his probe. He vowed to pursue "a speedy trial so that our evidence can be tested in court and judged by a jury of citizens."
"Since the attack on our Capitol, the Department of Justice has remained committed to ensuring accountability for those criminally responsible for what happened that day. This case is brought consistent with that commitment and our investigation of other individuals continues," he said.