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Trump says he was notified that he's a target of DOJ's Jan. 6 investigation

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Former President Donald Trump says he has received a target letter from the Justice Department. Trump says he is likely to be indicted by a grand jury investigating efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. The news comes on the same day Trump's lawyers are due in court in a separate federal case against him. NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson has been following the investigation. Carrie, so what do we know at this point about the status of the federal probe into the siege on the U.S. Capitol?

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Most of what we know comes from Donald Trump and the witnesses who appeared before federal grand juries in Washington, D.C. Trump posted this morning on Truth Social that he got word Sunday he's a target of the January 6 grand jury, and he says that means he is likely to be indicted. But Trump didn't say what exact charges are in play or when they might happen. In my experience, it's sometimes a matter of days or weeks between a target letter and an actual indictment. Trump says he's been given a few days to decide if he wants to appear before the grand jury, but that is really unlikely.

MARTÍNEZ: OK. Now, how is the Justice Department responding to the former president?

JOHNSON: A spokesman for the special counsel, Jack Smith, is declining to comment on Trump and the January 6 case. Jack Smith, of course, hasn't said much in public since he was appointed last November, other than he would do his work quickly, without pause or hiccups. We know that many members of Trump's inner circle have testified before grand juries in D.C. about different parts of the January 6 assault, things like an alleged scheme to put forward a slate of fake electors from several key swing states and replace legitimate electors who were supporting Joe Biden, who actually won the election. Among the people who have testified are former Vice President Mike Pence, top White House lawyers and Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. We also know, A, that prosecutors have been looking into the way Trump and some of his affiliates used bogus claims of election fraud to raise money.

MARTÍNEZ: You know, Trump is saying this morning on social media that, quote, "nothing like this has ever happened before." Carrie, is he right?

JOHNSON: Partially right. The most serious charges we've seen so far related to the attack on the Capitol have been against leaders of far-right groups, like the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, who have been convicted of seditious conspiracy. But people who may have organized and funded the effort to overturn the election results have not faced justice, at least not in any public charges. As for Trump, he's already been charged with a federal crime. He's the first former president to be indicted by the government he once led. Trump's lawyers, of course, are due in court in Florida later today in connection with that separate case over classified materials the FBI found at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

MARTÍNEZ: And just, yeah, add this to the long list of legal problems for Trump while he's campaigning to get back to the White House in 2024. How do the courts sort this thing out?

JOHNSON: This really has the potential to be a mess. Trump is already facing a criminal trial in New York in March that would be led by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. And that case revolves around accounting for hush money payments Trump allegedly made to the adult film star Stormy Daniels right before the 2016 election. In this Mar-a-Lago national security case, the DOJ wants to go to trial in Florida this December. But Trump's lawyers are suggesting the judge put off the trial until after the 2024 election. It's not clear that will fly with Judge Aileen Cannon. We're going to learn more about that this afternoon after the court hearing in Fort Pierce, Fla. And then, of course, there's also the Fulton County, Ga., grand jury, which is investigating Trump over his efforts to pressure election officials there to find him more votes in 2020. Now, Donald Trump is going to be mired in court proceedings during all of the GOP primaries, even if he succeeds in delaying some of these trials coming up.

MARTÍNEZ: That's NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson. Thanks for the update.

JOHNSON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

A Martínez
A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.
Carrie Johnson is a justice correspondent for the Washington Desk.
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