Former President Trump said Tuesday morning that he has been alerted he is a target of the Justice Department’s Jan. 6 investigation focusing on his efforts to stay in power after losing the 2020 election.
Trump said he received the “target letter” Sunday evening.
“Deranged Jack Smith, the prosecutor with Joe Biden’s DOJ, sent a letter (again it was Sunday night!) stating that I am 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.”
It had been clear that Trump’s actions would be a central focus of the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation, as Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to review the matter last year to determine “whether any person or entity unlawfully interfered with the transfer of power.”
But, as Trump states, receiving a target letter is often a sign someone could soon face charges in a matter where prosecutors have gathered substantial evidence.
Trump pursued a multi-pronged plan to remain in office, turning to the DOJ, state officials and even his own supporters, who ransacked the Capitol after then-Vice President Mike Pence refused Trump’s request to overturn the election results.
It’s unclear what specific charges Trump could face if prosecutors decide to move ahead.
A model prosecution memo analyzing publicly available details about the DOJ investigation suggested the former president could face charges on conspiracy to defraud the United States after creating fake electoral certificates that were submitted to Congress.
Creating those fake electoral certificates could also invoke statutes that prohibit obstruction of an official proceeding, a charge also leveled at numerous rioters who entered the building, including members of the Oath Keepers and military and chauvinist group the Proud Boys.
Prosecutors in recent weeks have called a number of Trump allies before the grand jury, including Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and former aide Hope Hicks. Prosecutors reportedly asked questions about whether Trump knew he had lost the election, as demonstrating intent is key for some charges.
More on the Jan. 6 investigation from The Hill:
- Kushner, Hope Hicks testified before Jan. 6 grand jury: reports
- Legal experts see strong potential for Trump charges in Jan. 6 probe
- Ex-Arizona House Speaker says he’s spoken to FBI in 2020 election probe
An indictment would mark the third time this year Trump has been charged with a crime, and the second time in a matter of months that he would face federal charges. He was charged in Manhattan in April over an alleged hush money scheme to keep quiet an affair, and in June he pleaded not guilty to federal charges over his handling of classified documents upon leaving office.
The former president is still under investigation in Georgia over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in the state. The district attorney leading the investigation has signaled charges could be filed in August.
Trump has repeatedly claimed that the myriad investigations into his conduct are part of an attempt to undermine his 2024 White House bid, pointing to his sizable lead in Republican primary polls, as well as some surveys that have shown him narrowly leading President Biden in a hypothetical rematch.
“THIS WITCH HUNT IS ALL ABOUT ELECTION INTERFERENCE AND A COMPLETE AND TOTAL POLITICAL WEAPONIZATION OF LAW ENFORCEMENT!” Trump said Tuesday. “It is a very sad and dark period for our Nation!”
The Biden White House has been adamant that they have had no contact with the DOJ about cases involving Trump.
In the case over his handling of classified materials, a May 19 letter from the DOJ notified Trump he was a target of the investigation, according to court filings. Trump posted on social media June 8 that he had been indicted.
In this case, however, it appears Trump has been given until Thursday to appear before the grand jury in Washington.
Trump’s office did not immediately respond to questions about whether he will appear before the grand jury — a chance to offer his own evidence in the case — and Smith’s office declined to comment on the matter.
In the halls of Congress, Republicans defended Trump, repeating his claims that he is being unfairly targeted.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who in the days after the Jan. 6 attack said that Trump “bears responsibility” for the riot, sounded a different tune Tuesday morning.
“Recently, President Trump went up in the polls and was actually surpassing President Biden for reelection. So, what do they do now? Weaponize government to go after their No. 1 opponent,” he told reporters.
“This is not equal justice. They treat people differently and they go after their adversaries.”
On the day of the insurrection, McCarthy called Trump, pleading with him to make a public statement to call off his supporters, at one point reportedly telling the then-president that “they are trying to f‑‑‑ing kill me.”
“Yeah, it’s absolute bulls‑‑‑,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) said. “This is the only way that the Democrats have to beat President Trump.”
But Democrats argued Trump’s plan to stay in power was an effort to subvert democracy, one that should carry serious consequences.
“A mob of insurrectionists violently attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6th in order to halt the peaceful transfer of power,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) wrote on Twitter.
“The American people deserve to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”
Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, called a potential case among the most serious Trump would face.
“If he’ll be facing charges with respect to the Jan. 6 insurrection, those are perhaps the most serious charges,” he said. “If he’s convicted of insurrection, he’s ineligible to ever hold any office of profit or trust under the United States.”
Emily Brooks and Mychael Schnell contributed. Updated at 5:02 p.m. ET.