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August 4, 2023 12:37 pm

Donald Trump arraigned on felony charges, not on the attempt to overthrow the government by force

By Staff Writer

Yesterday, August 3, former US President Donald Trump was arraigned on four felony charges related to his attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. The charges stem from his efforts to pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence to block the certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory and install Trump electors instead. The indictment, which mentions Pence over 100 times, relies heavily on his contemporaneous notes and sworn testimony as evidence.

Trump on August 3, 2023 leaving after facing a judge on federal conspiracy charges [AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Pence, however, declined to make these materials available to the House select committee that investigated the events of January 6, but has provided them to the special counsel. This has led to bitter exchanges between Trump and Pence, with the former president criticizing Pence’s lack of crowds, enthusiasm, and loyalty during his presidential campaign.

Trump’s attorneys and supporters have claimed that the indictment is an attempt to criminalize speech and violate the First Amendment. However, former Attorney General William Barr, a Trump ally, has refuted this argument, stating in an interview that the indictment does not hold Trump accountable for his most serious crimes, such as his declarations throughout the year leading up to the election that he would not accept the results if he lost.

The indictment focuses on one aspect of Trump’s criminal conspiracy to stay in power, rather than his role in planning and instigating the attempted coup on January 6, 2021. The charges do not directly address his efforts to establish a presidential dictatorship. The White House has remained silent on the indictment, and there is little expectation of a serious struggle by the Democrats against Trump and the increasingly fascistic Republican Party.


The indictment alleges that Trump played a directing role in the violent attack on the Capitol on January 6, taking advantage of the actions of the mob to pressure Vice President Pence to reject the certification of the election. The prosecution and consequent imprisonment of Trump for his actions leading up to and during the fascistic insurrection of January 6 is entirely justified and necessary.

The indictment, however, does not name any of the fascist thugs involved in the assault, including the leaders of groups like the Proud Boys. It also does not mention any officials from the US national security apparatus who ignored intelligence reports about the plans for violence on social media and allowed the attack to happen.

The selection of co-conspirators named in the indictment, such as Rudy Giuliani and Jeffrey Clark, indicates the limited scope of the charges. The indictment suggests that Trump was merely taking advantage of the actions of others, rather than actively directing the events.

The Biden administration’s top priority throughout the investigation into January 6 has been to protect the military-intelligence apparatus and avoid anything that might disrupt its efforts to provoke and escalate a war with Russia in Ukraine. The indictment does not mention any officials from the Republican Party who played a critical role in the attempted coup, including those who held up the certification of electors.

The indictment also does not address Trump’s erratic and disruptive interventions in US foreign policy, which the military-intelligence apparatus cannot tolerate. Despite the indictment, Trump remains the head of the Republican Party and its leading candidate in the upcoming presidential election.

Republican response

The charges against Trump have been portrayed by him as an example of the “weaponization” of the Department of Justice by the Democratic Biden administration. Trump has repeatedly claimed that the 2020 election was stolen by the Democrats but has not addressed the substance of the charges brought against him.

It is important to note that the indictment does not charge Trump with seeking to overthrow the government or mobilizing fascist supporters to attack the Capitol. Instead, it suggests that Trump brought violent thugs to Washington to put pressure on Pence, who as president of the Senate chaired the joint session of Congress responsible for certifying the Electoral College results. Trump demanded that Pence use his ceremonial post to block certification of Biden electors in contested states.

More serious crimes 

While the indictment threatens Trump with significant jail time if convicted, it avoids his most serious and politically important crimes. The indictment serves as a reminder that anyone who puts himself over the Constitution should never be President of the United States, according to Pence’s statement. Trump, in response, mocked Pence’s presidential campaign, highlighting the lack of crowds, enthusiasm, and loyalty.

The Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, issued a joint statement condemning Trump’s actions and describing them as a months-long criminal plot to defy democracy and overturn the will of the American people. However, they did not address the fact that the indictment does not hold Trump accountable for his statements and actions leading up to the election.

The timing of the indictment seems to be conditioned by the demands of the war against Russia in Ukraine. The Biden administration’s actions, including avoiding an investigation of Trump for the January 6 coup, suggest a desire for bipartisan collaboration and a reluctance to disrupt the ongoing conflict.

The indictment’s limited scope and omissions raise questions about its effectiveness in holding him accountable for the violent attack on the Capitol.

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