Former US president Donald Trump said Tuesday he expected to be charged over the January 6 attack on the US Capitol — an indictment that would ramp up his legal woes as he makes another White House run.
The 77-year-old Trump — in the hunt for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination — is already facing criminal charges brought by special counsel Jack Smith for mishandling top secret government documents after leaving the White House.
Trump said he received a letter from Smith on Sunday stating that he’s a target of the probe into January 6, 2021, when Trump supporters stormed Congress in a bid to prevent certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.
“Deranged Jack Smith, the prosecutor with Joe Biden’s DOJ, sent a letter… stating that I am a TARGET of the January 6 Grand Jury investigation,” Trump said in a post on his Truth Social platform.
Trump, currently the frontrunner for his party’s presidential nomination, said he was given “a very short four days” to report to a grand jury, “which almost always means an Arrest and Indictment.”
“This witch hunt is all about election interference and a complete and total political weaponization of law enforcement,” Trump said. “It is a very sad and dark period for our Nation!”
It was not immediately clear what specific charges the twice impeached Trump may face.
Before the Capitol attack, Trump delivered a fiery speech nearby urging the crowd to “fight like hell” and Smith has been looking into January 6 and Trump’s wider efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.
A spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to comment.
An unnamed advisor to Trump told The Washington Post the former president would decline to appear before the grand jury investigating the Capitol riot, which has already heard testimony from a number of close Trump associates.
More than 1,000 people have been arrested for taking part in what prosecutors have called an insurrection intended to keep Trump in the White House.
Most of them face charges of illegally entering the Capitol or causing property damage, but some 350 have been charged with assaulting law enforcement officers or resisting arrest.
Others, including members of the far-right Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, have been convicted of the more serious charge of seditious conspiracy.
Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, who is vying with Trump for the 2024 Republican nomination, told Fox News that another indictment would be a “distraction.”
“We can’t keep dealing with this drama,” Haley said.
“We can’t be sitting there focused on lawsuits over and over again,” she said.
“And that’s why I’m running. It’s because we need a new generational leader.”
Trump was indicted by Smith in June for allegedly stashing classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida — the first former US president to face criminal charges.
Trump is charged with 31 counts of “willful retention of national defense information,” each punishable by up to 10 years in prison. He also faces charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice, making false statements and other offenses.
According to the indictment, Trump kept records from the Pentagon, CIA and National Security Agency unsecured at his Mar-a-Lago home.
The judge presiding over the documents case is to hold a hearing in Florida later Tuesday to discuss a date for the trial to begin.
Prosecutors have asked US District Judge Aileen Cannon for a December start, while Trump’s defense attorneys have asked for it to begin after the November 2024 presidential election.
Georgia prosecutors are also investigating whether Trump illegally attempted to overturn the presidential election outcome in the southern state.
In his Truth Social post, Trump argued that he has “the right to protest an Election that I am fully convinced was Rigged and Stolen” and said he was being targeted because of the upcoming election.
The Justice Department has “effectively issued a third indictment and Arrest of Joe Biden’s NUMBER ONE POLITICAL OPPONENT, who is largely dominating him in the race for the Presidency,” Trump said.
“Nothing like this has ever happened in our Country before, or even close.”
According to the Post, a target letter does not necessarily mean charges will be brought against the recipient.
Trump pleaded not guilty in New York earlier this year in a case involving election-eve hush money payments to Stormy Daniels, a porn star who said she had an affair with him.