Prosecutor Smith uses Trump’s own lies against him as evidence
Special counsel Jack Smith laid out his case for the media. | J. Scott Applewhite/AP

WASHINGTON—Justice Department Special Counsel Jack Smith is using Donald Trump’s own words to make the case against him.

In a nine-page outline of what promises to be a voluminous trove of evidence against the former Republican Oval Office occupant, Smith shows Trump was already fixated on election fraud—though he hadn’t graduated to conspiracies yet—more than a decade ago.

But by the time his 2016 campaign against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton rolled around, Trump was not only in fraud mode but conspiracy mode and election denial, too. All that set the stage for January 6.

“In the presidential debate on October 19, 2016, the defendant [Trump] was asked whether he would accept the results of that election, to which he responded that he would ‘look at it at the time.’”  Smith’s outline says.

“The debate moderator followed up, ‘There is a tradition in this country—in fact, one of the prides of this country—is the peaceful transition of power and that no matter how hard-fought a campaign is, that at the end of the campaign that the loser concedes to the winner . . . and that the country comes together in part for the good of the country. Are you saying you’re not prepared now to commit to that principle?’

“The defendant responded, ‘What I’m saying is that I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense. OK?”

That statement and others, Smith’s statement to U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan shows Trump, even before the balloting three years ago, schemed to gain power regardless of the results—or of the will of the voters.

Trump’s attempt to defraud U.S. voters of their legitimate right to cast their ballots and have their votes honestly and fairly counted on Jan. 6, 2021—an attempt which was a coup d’état–is at the heart of Smith’s case.

Even after Trump beat Clinton in the Electoral College, things got worse. There was Trump’s “Stand Back and Stand By” statement to the violent white nationalist/extremist Proud Boys, which they declared was a command to march on D.C.

Made clear they were acting for him

“After the Proud Boys and other extremist groups participated in obstructing the congressional certification on January 6, the defendant made clear they were acting consistent with his intent and direction in doing so.

“It’s part of the violence he ordered—and then sat by and did nothing as the U.S. Capitol invasion raged,” Smith said, yet another sign of Trump’s intent.

There will be “multiple examples of the defendant’s efforts, during the charged conspiracies, to pressure state officials to change election results or appoint invalid electors in spite of the election results,” Smith added. “That’s even though he doesn’t specifically provide a leading piece of evidence.” Trump’s now-notorious hour-long phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find me 11,780 votes” to swing the Peach State by one popular vote into his column makes that case.

Those statements to the Georgia official were Trump’s own words, too.

Trump’s revenge for losing in Georgia extended to personal attacks on two Black women who were among the actual vote counters in Atlanta, the Smith outline says.

“Long after the charged conduct, the defendant continued to falsely attack two Georgia election workers despite being on notice his claims about them in 2020 were false and subjected them to vile, racist, and violent threats and harassment…During the charged conspiracy, the defendant and his co-conspirators spread knowing lies about the election workers and inspired death threats against them.”

The “women provided graphic testimony” to the House Jan. 6,  committee “about the threats and harassment they endured. Trump then doubled down on his attacks on the election workers. He even zeroed in on one of the election workers, falsely writing she was an election fraudster, a liar, and one of the ‘treacher[ous] . . . monsters’ who stole the country.”

Vice President Mike Pence got the Trump treatment, too, according to Smith, “in furtherance of another part of the conspiracy to overthrow the election—by demanding the VP, whose role is strictly ceremonial, throw out contested electoral votes from Georgia, Michigan, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Nevada. Democratic nominee Joe Biden narrowly won all five, plus Wisconsin.

“The government will introduce evidence to further establish the defendant and his co-conspirators’ plan of silencing, and intent to silence, those who spoke out against the defendant’s false election fraud claims; the defendant’s knowledge that his public attacks on officials—like those on his Vice President—could foreseeably lead to threats, harassment, and violence; and the defendant’s repeated choice to attack individuals with full knowledge of this effect.”

The Trump invaders chanted “Hang Mike Pence” from the noose they had erected on the Capitol lawn. Pence barely escaped, thanks to police who hustled him down back staircases, away from the invaders.

“It also constitutes after-the-fact corroboration of the defendant’s intent, because even after it was incontrovertibly clear that the defendant’s public false claims targeting individuals caused them harassment and threats, the defendant persisted. The jury,” in Judge Chutkan’s court, “may properly infer he intended that result.

“Finally, evidence of the defendant’s encouragement of violence and the consequences of his public attacks is admissible to allow the jury to consider the credibility and motives of witnesses who may be the continuing victims of the defendant’s attacks,” Smith says, in a reference to Trump’s campaign statements—and his defense of the invaders, topped with promises of pardons and payment of their legal fees.

Judge Chutkan plans to seat the jury in February and open the trial on March 4.

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Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.