Former President Donald Trump, a 2024 presidential candidate facing multiple criminal cases, has been indicted for a third time.
The Justice Department notified Trump on Tuesday that a grand jury had voted to indict him over his efforts to hold on to power following his loss in the 2020 election, including his actions leading to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. He has been summoned to appear in federal court at 4 p.m. ET on Thursday.
Earlier in the day, the former president’s lawyers met with prosecutors in Washington, D.C., while the grand jury was hearing evidence in the case. Trump faces four new federal charges in the indictment. The allegations follow a state indictment in New York on fraud charges and a federal indictment in Florida charging him with mishandling classified documents and obstructing justice.
Our live coverage has ended. For a recap of the day's events, check out the Yahoo News blog below.
• The Justice Department has charged Trump with four criminal counts stemming from his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
• He has been summoned to appear in court on Thursday.
• The DOJ has alleged that six co-conspirators, including attorneys, worked with Trump.
• This is the third indictment that the former president and current 2024 Republican frontrunner has faced this year.
• A state prosecutor in Georgia is also investigating Trump for his efforts to overturn the election results there.
As Trump indictment explodes, Biden heads to watch 'Oppenheimer'
President Biden saw "Oppenheimer" on Tuesday night. (Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images)
As Donald Trump was fuming over special counsel Jack Smith’s latest criminal indictment against him stemming from his efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election, the current president and first lady Jill Biden were busy taking in a movie.
On a Delaware beach vacation, the Biden’s attended a Tuesday evening showing of “Oppenheimer,” the three-hour biopic about nuclear physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, the Associated Press reported.
Meanwhile, in a statement released in response to the indictment, Trump lashed out at “the continued pathetic attempt by the Biden Crime Family and their weaponized Department of Justice to interfere with the 2024 Presidential Election.”
DeSantis suggests Trump won't get a fair trial in D.C. 'swamp'
Republican presidential hopeful and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was one of the first to issue a public statement in response to the news of Donald Trump’s third indictment on Tuesday. But rather than weigh in on the former president’s alleged crimes stemming from his effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election, DeSantis instead went after the residents of Washington, D.C., suggesting that Trump could not get a fair trial in the nation’s capital.
“Washington, DC is a ‘swamp’ and it is unfair to have to stand trial before a jury that is reflective of the swamp mentality,” DeSantis wrote on Twitter just moments after the newest indictment was announced. “One of the reasons our country is in decline is the politicization of the rule of law. No more excuses — I will end the weaponization of the federal government.”
Judge assigned to oversee this case had harsh punishments for Jan. 6 defendants
U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan is initially assigned to the election fraud case against Donald Trump. (Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts via AP)
While Trump is set to appear before a federal magistrate judge on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, has been assigned to oversee this case.
She has delivered harsh sentences to Jan. 6 defendants, being the only federal judge to assign them sentences longer than the government requested. Chutkan has previously ruled against Trump, including when she denied his plea to withhold records from the House select committee’s investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Trump indictment bombshells further undercut his false election claims
Then-President Donald Trump arrives to speak at the "Stop the Steal" rally in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
The 45-page Justice Department indictment of Donald Trump released Tuesday contains multiple bombshells, including quotes attributed to him that show he knew that his statements about the 2020 election results were false.
Those include a Dec. 27, 2020, phone conversation between Trump, his former acting attorney general and his former acting deputy attorney general, who informed him they would not be going along with a plot to try to overturn the election results.
"Just say that the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen," Trump told the two men, according to the indictment.
Democratic leaders say this indictment is the 'most consequential'
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York, left, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer at the U.S. Capitol on July 18 in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries issued a joint statement:
"The third indictment of Mr. Trump illustrates in shocking detail that the violence of that day was the culmination of a months-long criminal plot led by the former president to defy democracy to overturn the will of the American people.
"This indictment is the most serious and most consequential thus far and will stand as a stark reminder to generations of Americans that no one, including a president of the United States, is above the law."
Pence: 'Anyone who puts himself over the Constitution should never be president'
Former Vice President Mike Pence, a candidate for the 2024 Republican nomination, speaks at an event in Iowa on July 30. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Former Vice President Mike Pence issued a scathing statement following the news of Trump's latest indictment:
“Today's indictment serves as an important reminder: Anyone who puts himself over the Constitution should never be president of the United States.
"I will have more to say about the government’s case after reviewing the indictment. The former president is entitled to the presumption of innocence but with this indictment, his candidacy means more talk about January 6th and more distractions.
“As Americans, his candidacy means less attention paid to Joe Biden's disastrous economic policies afflicting millions across the United States and to the pattern of corruption with Hunter.
"Our country is more important than one man. Our constitution is more important than any one man’s career.
"On January 6th, former President Trump demanded that I choose between him and the Constitution. I chose the Constitution and I always will.
"As your president, I will not yield an inch in defending America, our people, or our values, and I promise you: I will do so in a way consistent with my oath to the Constitution and the character and decency of the American people. We will restore a threshold of integrity and civility in public life so we can bring real solutions to the challenges plaguing our nation."
'Conspiracy s*** beamed down from the mothership'
The indictment against Donald Trump released by the DOJ on Tuesday contains a number of explosive new details, including emails and text messages sent by the former president and his alleged co-conspirators in the wake of the 2020 election, as well as some of the more vocal skeptics in Trump’s orbit.
One email cited on page 13 of the 45-page indictment offers a look at the frustration expressed by some of Trump’s campaign staff over the effort to subvert the election results.
The email was sent on Dec. 8, 2020, by an unnamed senior Trump campaign adviser who, according to the indictment, “spoke with the Defendant on a daily basis and had informed him on multiple occasions that various fraud claims were untrue,” including the charge promoted by Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani that a large number of dead voters had cast ballots in Georgia.
"When our research and campaign legal team can't back up any of the claims made by our Elite Strike Force Legal Team, you can see why we're 0-32 on our cases,” the email reads. “I'll obviously hustle to help on all fronts, but it's tough to own any of this when it's all just conspiracy shit beamed down from the mothership."
Key details from Yahoo News partners
Noah Bookbinder, the president of the left-leaning watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, makes the case in Salon that this indictment is "the big one."
"Here's why today's indictment is so important: This is the big one because Donald Trump has been criminally charged for attempting to stop the peaceful transfer of power, and the charges come from the very government he tried to take over by force," he writes.
CNN has also published a story collecting the "notable legal clouds that continue to hang over" Trump, including a Georgia case in which another indictment looms connected to his efforts to overturn the election in the state.
Meanwhile, the Miami Herald put the spotlight on a historic moment connected to Tuesday's indictment: the first time a former president has been charged for behavior connected to his time in office.
The Herald reports:
Conservative legal scholars are divided over whether a president is broadly shielded from prosecution over their activities while in office after leaving the White House. But some of Trump’s own former attorneys, who represented him during his first impeachment, say that Smith’s latest charges are serious.
“The fact that Trump was the sitting president and that he was impeached and acquitted of January 6 related charges does not preclude an indictment — if there is evidence of actual crimes, not the type of made up non-crimes that were the basis for the New York charges,” said Alan Dershowitz, a former Harvard Law School professor who defended Trump in his first Senate impeachment trial.
Identifying the unnamed co-conspirators
Rudy Giuliani, with lawyer Sidney Powell, conducts a news conference challenging the election results, Nov. 19, 2020. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
The Washington Post has taken a stab at identifying the six unnamed co-conspirators in the indictment of former Trump on four criminal counts related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.
The identity of Trump's lawyer and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani as co-conspirator No. 1 is "clear from the document’s descriptions of that person’s actions," the Post writes. He is described as "an attorney who was willing to spread knowingly false claims."
Co-conspirator No. 2, described in the indictment as “an attorney who devised and attempted to implement a strategy to leverage the vice president’s ceremonial role overseeing the certification proceeding” is John Eastman, according to Eastman's own attorney.
Co-conspirator No. 3, "an attorney whose unfounded claims of election fraud Trump himself said sounded 'crazy,'" matches Trump surrogate Sidney Powell, the newspaper concludes.
Co-conspirator No. 4, described as a then-Justice Department official who “attempted to use the Justice Department to open sham election crime investigations," refers to the actions of Jeffrey Clark, the Post writes. In the waning days of the administration, Trump considered appointing Clark as attorney general in order to use the department to his advantage.
Co-conspirator No. 5, referred to in the indictment as a lawyer who sought to "submit fraudulent slates of presidential electors to obstruct the certification proceeding," appears to match Kenneth Chesebro, a Trump attorney who worked on the scheme to enact false presidential electors, the Post concludes.
The newspaper does not speculate on the identity of co-conspirator 6, "a political consultant who helped implement a plan to submit fraudulent slates of presidential electors," according to the indictment.
CNN's Sarah Murray identified the same first five co-conspirators on air.
Former solicitor general: 'One of the biggest cases in U.S. history'
Speaking on MSNBC, former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal put today’s federal indictment of Donald Trump in stark perspective:
“The gravity of this moment cannot be overstated. … The former president of the United States and the current leading presidential candidate for one of the parties is charged for his role in trying to upend a free and fair election. This is certainly the biggest legal case in our lifetimes. It is one of the biggest cases ever in the history of the United States. It is up there with Dred Scott, it is up there with Brown v. Board of Education, because it goes to who we are as a people.”
Cover thumbnail photo via Drew Angerer/Getty Images