New Delhi: Former president Donald Trump could face up to 20 years in prison, following findings by a committee of the United State House of Representatives that he broke four major federal laws in an attempt to overturn the 2020 US presidential election and incite the 6 January Capitol riot.
In a 154-page report released Tuesday, the committee accused Trump of trying to obstruct an official proceeding, conspiring to defraud the US, inciting an insurrection and more.
“This report also examines the legal implications of Donald Trump and his co-conspirators’ conduct and includes criminal referrals to the Department of Justice…,” states the report.
It frequently refers to a “multi-part plan”, claiming that Trump’s attempt to overturn the election — won by Joe Biden — extended far beyond efforts to prevent then-Vice President Mike Pence from certifying the election results.
The report asserts that key individuals who worked closely with Trump trying to overturn the election “ultimately admitted that they lacked actual evidence sufficient to change the election result, and they admitted that what they were attempting was unlawful”.
For example, it cites Graydon Young, a member of the Oath Keepers anti-government militia involved in the 6 January riot, who pleaded guilty before a federal court in 2021, and delivered a testimony against his own group two months ago.
On 6 January, 2021, a mob of Trump supporters had attacked the US Capitol Building in Washington DC in a bid to overturn the results of the election which had deemed Biden the winner.
“In emotional testimony, Young acknowledged what he and the others believed they were doing on January 6th: attacking Congress in the manner the French had attacked the Bastille at the outset of the French Revolution,” notes the report, adding Young described the Oath Keepers as being “provoked” to travel to Washington by Trump’s tweets and false claims about the election.
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What laws did Trump break?
The report accuses Trump of breaking several federal laws. These include: 1) obstruction of an official proceeding, 2) conspiracy to defraud the US, 3) conspiracy to make a false statement, 4) ‘incite’, ‘assist’ or ‘aid and comfort’ an insurrection, 5) other conspiracy statutes.
Under the first statute, Trump was accused of trying to prevent or delay the counting of electoral votes, notes the report, adding that he acted with “corrupt” purpose. If found guilty, he can be fined or imprisoned up to 20 years, or both.
Under the second law, Trump was accused of conspiring to defraud the country by knowingly touting inaccurate numbers of voter fraud. Here, he can face 2 to 5 years in jail, or at least one year if it is deemed a misdemeanor.
Under the third statute, the former US president was accused of submitting a group of fake electors to the Congress and the National Archives. He was accused under two sections of this law, which can entail 2-5 years in prison as well as a fine, or 5 years’ jail.
Under the fourth law, the report holds Trump directly responsible for “summoning” the violent mob on 6 January, especially with his ‘Ellipse’ speech delivered that day in the open grassy area of the President’s Park. If found guilty of inciting the mob, he can face 5 years’ imprisonment.
Trump was also accused of conspiring to impede/injure officers and “seditious” conspiracy under sections 372 and 2384 of the US criminal code.
(Edited by Nida Fatima Siddiqui)
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