Federal prosecutors have gathered evidence to charge former President Donald Trump after investigations on the three crimes related to his attempts to overturn the 2020 election results. This includes a charge under section 241 of the US legal code, which makes it illegal to conspire to violate civil rights. Prosecutors from the office of special counsel Jack Smith outlined the potential charges in a target letter sent to Trump, indicating a possible imminent indictment.
Prosecutors also have evidence to charge Trump with obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the United States. These charges link to Trump’s active efforts in pressuring officials and using fake electors to attempt to halt the certification of Joe Biden’s election win on January 6, 2021.
Section 241, which protects civil rights, is unusual in its application as it is typically used in cases of law enforcement misconduct and hate crimes. The US enacted it to safeguard the civil rights of Black voters targeted by white supremacy groups after the US Civil War.
Trump’s Response to the Target Letter
Trump’s response to the target letter remains uncertain. He leads the pack of candidates for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination but faces unprecedented legal challenges due to the ongoing investigations.
The House select committee investigating the Capitol attack previously concluded that Trump committed multiple crimes in his attempts to reverse his election defeat, including conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of an official proceeding. The justice department intensified its criminal investigation into Trump’s actions in spring 2022, which led to the special counsel’s office issuing the target letter. The target letter did not mention charges of seditious conspiracy, incitement of insurrection, or deprivation of rights under color of law.
Donald Trump reacted strongly to the target letter from investigations , calling it “HORRIFYING NEWS” on his Truth Social platform, where he disclosed the development. A spokesperson for the Trump campaign did not comment on the target letter’s contents, but a senior adviser to Trump confirmed the inclusion of section 241 in the letter.
Overall, the investigations and potential charges pose significant legal risks for Trump as he continues his political ambitions for the 2024 presidential nomination.