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Trump indicted over attack on Congress

Donald Trump has been indicted over the January 6 attack on Congress in which his supporters attempted to overturn his 2020 presidential election defeat.

Trump supporters invade the Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress ratifying Joe Biden's win in the 2020 presidential election. Photo: Lev Radin/Sipa USA

Trump supporters invade the Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress ratifying Joe Biden's win in the 2020 presidential election. Photo: Lev Radin/Sipa USA

The four-count indictment alleges Trump conspired to defraud the US by preventing Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s victory and to deprive voters of their right to a fair election.

The former US president has been ordered to appear before a federal magistrate judge in Washington on Thursday.

The latest charges stem from Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into allegations Trump – the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination – sought to reverse his loss to Democratic rival Biden.

The indictment alleges Trump conspired with six other unnamed individuals to overturn the results. Prosecutors wrote that Trump knew his claims that the election was fraudulent were false, but repeated them anyway to “create an intense national atmosphere of mistrust and anger and erode public faith in the administration of the election.”

In a statement, the Trump campaign said he has always followed the law and characterised the indictment as a political “persecution” reminiscent of Nazi Germany.

Trump already had become the first former US president to face criminal charges. He has sought to portray the prosecutions as part of a politically motivated witch hunt.

These represent a second round of federal charges by Smith, who was appointed a special counsel in November by US Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Trump pleaded not guilty after a federal grand jury in Miami convened by the special counsel charged him in June in a 37-count indictment over his unlawfully retention of classified government documents after leaving office in 2021 and obstructing justice. Prosecutors accused him of risking some of the most sensitive US national security secrets.

Last Thursday, prosecutors added three more criminal counts against Trump, bringing the total to 40, accusing him of ordering employees to delete security videos as he was under investigation for retaining the documents.

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The first charges brought against Trump emerged in March when a grand jury convened by Manhattan’s district attorney indicted him.

Trump in April pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts accusing him of falsifying business records concerning a payment to porn star Stormy Daniels to buy her silence before the 2016 election about a sexual encounter she said she had with him. Trump has denied the encounter.

Strategists said while the indictments could help Trump solidify support within his base and win the Republican nomination, his ability to capitalise on them may be more limited in next year’s general election, when he will have to win over more skeptical moderate Republicans and independents.

-AAP

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