US prosecutors have charged Donald Trump in connection with attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, the second federal indictment brought against the former president in as many months.
Trump was charged with four criminal counts including conspiracy to defraud the US, to obstruct an official proceeding and to threaten individual rights, according to an indictment filed in federal court in Washington DC on Tuesday.
The Department of Justice’s indictment stems from a probe led by special counsel Jack Smith into alleged meddling in the results of the 2020 election and attempts to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s victory. The probe has focused on the actions of Trump, as well as his allies and supporters, in the lead up to the January 6 2021 attack on the US Capitol.
In a statement, the Trump campaign said the indictment was part of a “continued pathetic attempt” by Biden and the justice department to “interfere” with the 2024 election.
“The lawlessness of these persecutions of President Trump and his supporters is reminiscent of Nazi Germany in the 1930s, the former Soviet Union, and other authoritarian, dictatorial regimes,” the campaign said, adding: “President Trump has always followed the law and the constitution, with advice from many highly accomplished attorneys.”
Trump already faces federal criminal charges over the handling of classified documents, and state charges over alleged hush money payments made in the run-up to the 2016 election. He is due to make an initial appearance in the new case on August 3.
The Department of Justice declined to comment.
Trump said last month he had received a letter from the DoJ informing him he was the target of a grand jury investigation, which he described as a “witch hunt”. Members of Trump’s legal team last week met prosecutors from Smith’s office.
The DoJ’s January 6 case is widely seen as one of the most serious legal challenges facing Trump, who is fighting multiple criminal cases.
It is the second set of charges brought by Smith, who was appointed by US attorney-general Merrick Garland to oversee probes involving the ex-president.
Trump in June was indicted on numerous criminal counts including conspiracy to obstruct justice, concealing documents in a federal investigation and making false statements. The case was linked to sensitive government files seized by the FBI at his residence in Mar-a-Lago, Florida. Trump pleaded not guilty in what was the first federal criminal case against a former US president.
The DoJ added new charges in a superseding indictment filed last week that accused Trump of attempting to have surveillance video footage at Mar-a-Lago deleted. The ex-president has called the move a “desperate” attempt to “harass” him.
Trump, the frontrunner in the race to become the Republican presidential candidate in 2024, has vowed to move ahead with his campaign despite mounting legal risks. He has described the cases against him as a “disgrace” and as “election interference” by the Biden administration.
A further legal hurdle looms in the state of Georgia, where a special grand jury has been investigating alleged interference by the ex-president and others in the 2020 polls. If Fani Willis, district attorney for Fulton County, decides to bring charges in this separate case, they are widely expected to materialise later in the summer.
The ex-president in April pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in a case brought by the Manhattan district attorney. Trump was accused of masterminding a scheme to quash damaging stories threatening his presidential candidacy in 2016, which included a payment to an adult film actress in exchange for her silence.