Donald Trump indictment: Ex-president due in court to face charges in third criminal case

Former president says he has 'never had so much support' after latest indictment

Donald Trump speaks at a Republican volunteer recruitment event in Las Vegas in July. AFP
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Donald Trump on Wednesday was preparing for his latest court appearance after federal prosecutors accused the former US president of conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Mr Trump is due in court in Washington for an expected arraignment at 4pm local time on Thursday.

He has responded to his new indictment by claiming it shows the Department of Justice is politically persecuting him in an attempt to undermine his bid to reclaim the White House in 2024.

In a 45-page indictment, unsealed on Tuesday, prosecutors accuse the Republican front-runner of repeatedly lying about the election results and engaging in a conspiracy to “disenfranchise millions of voters” by installing puppet representatives to support his election claims in Congress.

Mr Trump's claims of having won the election were “false, and the defendant knew they were false”, the indictment states.

“But the defendant repeated and widely disseminated them anyway – to make his knowingly false claims appear legitimate, to create an intense national atmosphere of mistrust and anger, and to erode public faith in the administration of the election.”

The indictment is potentially the most serious legal setback for Mr Trump so far.

He has also been accused of illegally taking classified information from the White House and showing off a war plan to attack Iran in a federal case in Florida, and a state case in New York accuses him of illegal payments during the 2016 election campaign. The former president has pleaded not guilty in both cases.

The judge in the Florida case is a Trump appointee and potential jurors there lean Republican, so Mr Trump could be on favourable ground when his case begins in May. The New York case, related to hush-money payments to an adult film star, appears to be the least legally perilous of the three prosecutions.

Another investigation into election interference is under way in Georgia and could yield a fourth indictment.

So far, the three criminal cases, as well as several lawsuits including one that found him liable for sexual assault, have done nothing to dent Mr Trump's popularity among his Republican supporters and he has seen a spike in contributions after each case was unveiled.

Mr Trump boasted on his Truth Social media platform that he was receiving unprecedented backing.

“Thank you to everyone!” he wrote on Wednesday. “I have never had so much support of anything before”.

He also accused the special counsel who brought the indictment, Jack Smith, of being “deranged” and of engaging in “prosecutorial misconduct”.

The November 4, 2020, election saw Mr Trump lose the popular vote to Democrat Joe Biden by more than seven million votes, but the Republican has maintained he won by a landslide.

Two months of false statements about the election results fuelled widespread anger among Mr Trump's base, who believed his claim the presidency had been “stolen” from him.

Their fury led to the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol, where a mob of Trump supporters broke into the building, shortly after he gave a speech during which he told supporters to “fight like hell”.

The insurrection was “fuelled by lies – lies by the defendant targeted at obstructing a bedrock function of the US government: the nation's process of collecting counting and certifying the results of the presidential election”, Mr Smith said.

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Updated: August 03, 2023, 5:58 AM