Trump Says He Is Target of Investigation, No, The Other One
Stop me if you have heard this one before: Former president and current candidate Donald Trump says he is “a TARGET of the January 6th Grand Jury investigation, and giving me a very short 4 days to report to the Grand Jury, which almost always means an Arrest and Indictment.”
Capitalization all Trump’s. The Washington Post explains it thusly:
Donald J. Trump said Tuesday morning that he received a letter from the Justice Department saying that he is the target of the long running investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
The former president wrote on social media that Special Counsel Jack Smith — the prosecutor leading the federal investigation — sent a letter on Sunday.
A spokesman for Jack Smith declined to comment.
The target letter and potential indictment further ensnares Trump in unprecedented legal peril as he campaigns as the frontrunner to be the 2024 Republican nominee for president.
Trump has already been indicted on federal charges in a separate case alleging that he mishandled classified documents. And in March, a Manhattan grand jury indicted Trump on state charges, falsified records related to hush money payments to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign. The district attorney in Fulton County, Ga., is leading an ongoing state investigation related to the 2020 election and has said she will make a charging decision in the case next month.
“Nothing like this has ever happened in our country before or even close,” Trump wrote in a long post Tuesday in which he called Smith “deranged” and called Attorney General Merrick Garland actions “unethical.”
A target letter from prosecutors means investigators have gathered substantial evidence linking the recipient to a crime — but it does not necessarily mean charges will ultimately be brought. Often such letters invite the target to appear before a grand jury to offer evidence.
Trump said he was asked if he wishes to appear before the grand jury this week. A Trump advisor said he does not plan to appear and testify.
The former president did not indicate what the charges against him could be and it is unclear if the target letter specified.
Two people in Trump’s orbit said the target letter landed even as Smith’s team continues to interview people who worked for Trump’s team and others close to him. Trump’s lawyers convened with the former president on Monday to discuss Smith’s investigation, as well as the ongoing probe in Georgia.
Led by Smith, the Justice Department has been examining the events that led up to the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Investigators have looked at the ads and email messages that sought to fundraise off false claims of election fraud and the decision by Republican electors in some states won by Biden to send signed statements purporting to affirm Trump as the victor.
During the investigation, prosecutors has asked witnesses hours of detailed questions about meetings Trump led in December 2020 and January 2021, a time when he was falsely insisting that he defeated President Biden in the election even as swing states certified Biden’s win, people familiar with the questioning have said.
They have also inquired about his pressure campaign on Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the election. Some of the questions focused directly on the extent of Trump’s involvement in the elector scheme led by his outside lawyers, including John Eastman and Rudy Giuliani, these people said. At the time, Eastman and Giuliani argued that Pence could reject Biden’s electors when Congress gathered to confirm his win on Jan. 6, a ceremony that was interrupted by violence.
Prosecutors asked witnesses about their conversations with Trump and others in his inner circle about an alleged scheme seeking to substitute Trump allies for certified electors from some states Joe Biden won, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Last month, a federal grand jury indicted Trump on 37 charges in a separate case also led by Smith alleging that the former president took classified materials from the White House and improperly kept them at his Florida residence after he left office. Prosecutors allege that the former president then tried to hide some of the classified materials as federal officials demanded them back.
The charges in that case were filed in West Palm Beach and a federal judge in South Florida is presiding over the legal proceedings.
Any potential indictment related to the Jan. 6 investigation is expected to be filed in D.C.
You know what, let’s just pull up and park right here for a moment. Should this particular investigation wind up in indictments for Donald J. Trump it would be his third batch of them, after the New York falsified records case and the Florida classified documents case, with a potential fourth batch possibly coming out of Georgia this fall. That’s a lot of indicting by anyone’s standards.
And yet Donald Trump is currently dominating the 2024 GOP presidential field with no one really presenting a challenge to him yet.
That is after two out of four potential indictments.
We are so far off the map here, I’m not sure it registers anymore.
So far, Trump’s legal troubles aren’t bothering a significant portion of the Republican Party’s primary voters, and unless something happens that does bother them, he is going to win the GOP nomination. If you take the current highest ranked elected Republican in American government’s word for it, we are a far piece off from that:
President Trump just increased his lead in the polls. So what does the Biden Administration do next? Weaponize government to go after President Biden’s number one opponent.
This is not equal justice. It’s wrong, and the American public is tired of it. pic.twitter.com/H53qEyOvrO
— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) July 18, 2023
After years of “What if Trump was indicted/arrested” being a staple of political news media coverage, commentary, and wish casting, it only took a few weeks and doing it more than once for an “Trump indicted” to become not the shattering news folks expected, but something Donald Trump has done with a lot of other not-good-for-the-country stuff: It is normal now. The second, possibly third, maybe a fourth batch of indictments is getting less and less shock value. Folks thinking the culmination of even more of something we are already getting used to is going to greatly change the equation are going to have to show their work.
If there are more indictments for Trump, we will cover and read them as they come out. But until then, the evidence of what the indictments have meant so far to American politics demands a verdict. Trump’s supporters don’t care, at all, and any legal moves will just be spun into the already-turning grievance machine that fuels the fires in the MAGA boiler room. If they haven’t already been convinced, they aren’t going to be.
Time to just accept and factor that into the calculations of 2024. It is looking more and more like the GOP is going to nominate a candidate with dozens of indictments, and it is unlikely any of the trials will be done before election day 2024. Maybe DeSantis mounts a massive comeback, or Trump really does find something his personality cult really will break with him over. Or maybe what looks like is happening, happens, and this is just all filler news cycle noise to fill in the intermediate timeframe.
We are off the map, indeed. And here, there be monsters.