Editorial: Americans should read Trump indictment

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(Columbus) The Republic

Whatever your opinion of former President Donald Trump, and whatever your opinion of special counsel Jack Smith, there is no denying that we are living through an unparalleled historical moment, brought about by unprecedented events.

We also lived through an unparalleled historical period after the 2020 election. Never before in American history has a president who lost an election refused to respect the will of the people. And the former president’s refusal to do that, coupled with a relentless campaign to retain power by corrupt means, led to the assault on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

No former president has ever been charged with a federal crime for conspiring against the United States, its government and its people because no former president before Trump had conducted himself in a manner to support such charges.

The public by design has seen very little of Jack Smith, but the indictment he signed on Aug. 1 handed down by a grand jury speaks loudly to those who take the time to read it. We believe every American who values the right of the people to vote and for those votes to be honored should read the 45-page indictment, available online at justice.gov/storage/US_v_Trump_23_cr_257.pdf.

The gravity of the allegations against the former president — the charges on which Trump was arraigned Thursday — is breathtaking.

Smith lays out in exacting detail how he will present the case that Trump broke the law. Ultimately, whether Trump did so, based on the facts and evidence presented at trial is the only question that a jury will consider. The evidence to support the charges is overwhelming, yet much of it is already known to people who have been paying attention to honest news sources in the past couple of years.

Those still defending Trump have been quick to complain that charging him violates his First Amendment rights. Untrue. Trump was and is free to say he won the election, even if that is a lie, which it is. But Trump has no First Amendment right to do these things that the indictment says he did:

“defraud the United States by using dishonesty, fraud, and deceit to impair, obstruct, and defeat the lawful federal government function by which the results of the presidential election are collected, counted, and certified by the federal government”;

“knowingly combine, conspire, confederate, and agree with co-conspirators, known and unknown to the Grand Jury, to corruptly obstruct and impede an official proceeding, that is, the certification of the electoral vote”;

“attempted to, and did, corruptly obstruct and impede an official proceeding, that is, the certification of the electoral vote”, and;

“knowingly combine, conspire, confederate, and agree with co-conspirators, known and unknown to the Grand Jury, to injure, oppress, threaten, and intimidate one or more persons in the free exercise and enjoyment of a right and privilege secured to them by the Constitution and laws of the United States — that is, the right to vote, and to have one’s vote counted.”

Trump is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and he will have his day in court. More importantly, so will the notion that in America, no one is above the law.