Former President Donald Trump says he's an official target of Special Counsel Jack Smith's investigation into Trump's role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Trump is seen here waving to onlookers as he visited a Cuban restaurant in Miami on June 13, 2023, shortly after entering a not guilty plea to a federal indictment involving his possession of national security documents after he left office. (Alon Skuy/Getty Images)
Donald Trump says he has received a target letter from Special Counsel Jack Smith. The letter indicates another indictment of the former president is likely over his role in encouraging the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Trump posted to his social media site, Truth Social, on Tuesday, announcing that he’d received the target letter from Smith on Sunday and was given four days to report to a federal grand jury. He cast himself as the victim of a political prosecution and denied wrongdoing.
“This has been a never-ending fight since the day I came down the escalator in Trump Tower, many years ago,” Trump wrote, referencing his campaign announcement in the 2016 presidential race. “VERY UNFAIR!”
The Justice Department did not respond to a message seeking confirmation of the target letter to Trump, the leading candidate in GOP presidential primary polls for 2024.
A target letter typically precedes an arrest and indictment, Trump said. It would be the third indictment Trump faces — and perhaps the most serious — amid a campaign to retake the White House.
A New York state grand jury alleged in April that Trump falsified business records and used campaign cash to cover up an affair with adult film actress Stormy Daniels.
In June, a federal grand jury indicted Trump on charges he mishandled classified material when he left office.
Trump has pleaded not guilty and denied wrongdoing in both cases.
A Georgia grand jury is also investigating Trump for election interference.
Jan. 6 investigation
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Smith last year to lead the federal investigations of Trump’s potential involvement in the Jan. 6 attack and the classified materials case.
Smith’s Jan. 6 investigation started after the U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6, 2021 Attack on the U.S. Capitol spent two years investigating and presenting a case that Trump was responsible for that day’s insurrection.
The attack was the culmination of a multistep effort by Trump to remain in power after losing the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden, the committee found. Trump pressured state officials, the Justice Department and his own running mate, then-Vice President Mike Pence, to illegally subvert the election results, according to the committee.
He summoned a group of supporters to Washington on the day Congress was to certify his reelection loss, encouraged them to storm the Capitol and stood by for hours as the attack proceeded, the committee said.
The House panel, which did not have authority to prosecute criminal charges, ultimately made a referral to the Justice Department. The committee was dissolved after Republicans took over control of the House in January.
The Justice Department has prosecuted hundreds of people who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, including some who face seditious conspiracy charges.
House GOP backs Trump
Despite his legal challenges, Trump retains strong backing among Republicans in Congress, some of whom also describe the prosecutions as politically motivated.
“The Justice Department’s as wrong as it gets,” U.S. House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican, told reporters at the U.S. Capitol Tuesday morning.
U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican, called the investigation “an embarrassment on the world stage” and said she would stand with Trump “the entire way.”
“If this is the direction America is going in, we are worse than Russia, we are worse than China,” she said. “We are worse than some of the most corrupt third-world countries and this needs to end.”
But former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican who is among Trump’s rivals for the 2024 nomination, said in a written statement that Trump’s actions on Jan. 6 should disqualify him from being president and called for him to drop out.
“While Donald Trump would like the American people to believe that he is the victim in this situation, the truth is that the real victims of January 6th were our democracy, our rule of law, and those Capitol Police officers who worked valiantly to protect our Capitol,” he said. “Anyone who truly loves this country and is willing to put the country over themselves would suspend their campaign for President of the United States immediately.”
Trump is expected to be in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Tuesday afternoon to tape a town hall appearance with Sean Hannity of Fox News.
Senior Washington reporter Jennifer Shutt contributed to this report.
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