In a significant development, Special Counsel Jack Smith has issued an indictment against former President Donald Trump, accusing him of multiple felonies related to his alleged role in challenging the results of the 2020 presidential election. The indictment, announced on Tuesday, includes several weighty charges, one of which carries a possible penalty of death.
The primary charge under scrutiny is 18 U.S.C § 241, commonly known as “Conspiracy Against Rights.” The statute outlines a penalty of up to 10 years in federal prison for conspiring to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in the free exercise or enjoyment of their rights secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States. However, if death results from these actions, the offender may face the possibility of capital punishment.
One key incident that has been cited in the indictment is the tragic death of Ashli Babbitt, a rioter who was shot by a law enforcement officer during the Capitol riot on January 6. Special Counsel Smith has asserted that this death was a direct consequence of President Trump’s claims about the election.
Moreover, Democrats have pointed to the unrelated deaths of several protesters and Capitol Police officers, holding Trump accountable for these casualties as well. Additionally, there have been attempts to link him to alleged plots to kidnap then-Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi during the same incident.
Apart from the potential death penalty, the indictment includes other serious charges against the former President. These charges are as follows:
- 18 U.S.C. § 371 – Conspiracy to Defraud the United States: Carrying a maximum penalty of five years in prison, though penalties can be less if the conspiracy is to commit a misdemeanor.
- 18 U.S.C. § 1512 (k) – Conspiracy to Obstruct an Official Proceeding: With a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison for anyone who obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding.
- 18 U.S.C. § 1512 (c) – Obstruction of and Attempt to Obstruct an Official Proceeding: Similarly carrying up to 20 years in prison.
If convicted on all four charges and given the maximum non-lethal penalties, President Trump could face a cumulative prison term of 55 years if sentences are to run consecutively. This, combined with the possible 460 years in the “documents” case being prosecuted in federal court in Miami, could result in a staggering maximum federal prison term of 515 years.