Trump indictment reveals new details of Jan. 6, pressure campaign to subvert election

Former President Donald Trump, a 2024 presidential hopeful, speaks during a campaign rally in Erie, Pennsylvania, on July 29, 2023.

Joed Viera | Afp | Getty Images

The new indictment of Donald Trump reveals previously unknown details about his and his allies’ efforts to prevent President Joe Biden from succeeding him in the White House in January 2021.

Those include a serious attempt to install Department of Justice official Jeffrey Clark as U.S. attorney general and the pressuring of Republican members of Congress to further delay certification of Biden’s Electoral College victory hours after a mob of Trump rioters swarmed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

And the indictment includes clear evidence that Trump knew he was not the legitimate winner of the 2020 election, even as he publicly claimed otherwise.

The six alleged co-conspirators who are mentioned prominently in Trump’s indictment aren’t identified by name — but it’s possible to deduce who most of them are from details sprinkled throughout the charges. 

Replacing the attorney general

Co-conspirator 4 in the indictment is presumed to be Clark.

The indictment lays out how Clark, in December 2020 and January 2021, met and talked with Trump behind the backs of senior DOJ officials as he pushed false claims of election misconduct and the theory that Vice President Mike Pence could reject slates of Biden electors.

DOJ leadership refused to endorse Clark’s efforts and warned him against meeting with Trump without authorization, but that did not stop him, the indictment says.

Jeffrey Clark, former acting assistant attorney general, arrives for Rep. Matt Gaetz’s Jan. 6 field hearing in the Capitol on June 13, 2023.

Bill Clark | Cq-roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

On Jan. 3, 2021, Clark “met with the Defendant at the White House — again without having informed senior Justice Department officials — and accepted the Defendant’s offer that he become Acting Attorney General,” the indictment says.

It was well known that Trump backed off from a plan to make Clark the attorney general after the leadership of the DOJ told him they would all resign if he did so. But Clark’s acceptance of that offer, and its being made, are new details.

Clark floats Insurrection Act idea

On the same day he accepted Trump’s job offer, Clark spoke with a deputy White House counsel.

“The previous month, the Deputy White House Counsel had informed [Trump] that ‘there is no world, there is no option in which you do not leave the White House [o]n January 20th,'” the indictment notes.

On Jan. 3, 2021, the counsel tried to dissuade Clark from taking the job as acting AG, the indictment says.

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“The Deputy White House Counsel reiterated to Co-Conspirator 4 that there had not been outcome-determinative fraud in the election and that if the Defendant remained in office nonetheless, there would be ‘riots in every major city in the United States,'” the indictment says.

Clark responded, “Well, [Deputy White House Counsel], that’s why there’s an Insurrection Act.”

The Insurrection Act authorizes a president to deploy U.S. military and National Guard forces within the United States in response to civil disorder or rebellion.

Trump urged delay in certifying election after riot

Co-conspirator 1 in the indictment is presumed to be former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

The indictment says that hours after a mob of Trump supporters invaded the U.S. Capitol, disrupting the certification of Biden’s victory by a joint session of Congress, Trump and Giuliani “attempted to exploit the violence and chaos at the Capitol by calling lawmakers to convince them, based on knowingly false claims of election fraud, to delay the certification.”

Trump tried that night to reach multiple U.S. senators as part of that effort, the indictment says.

President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani speaks as Trump supporters gather by the White House ahead of his speech to contest the certification by the U.S. Congress of the results of the 2020 U.S. presidential election in Washington, Jan. 6, 2021.

Jim Bourg | Reuters

Giuliani left a voicemail for one senator, saying, “We need you, our Republican friends, to try to just slow it down so we can get these legislatures to get more information to you,” according to the indictment.

“And I know they’re reconvening at eight tonight but the only strategy we can follow is to object to numerous states and raise issues so that we get ourselves into tomorrow—ideally until the end of tomorrow,” Giuliani said on the message, the indictment alleges.

The indictment goes on to say that “At 7:01 p.m., while Co-Conspirator 1 was calling United States Senators on behalf of [Trump], the White House Counsel called the Defendant to ask him to withdraw any objections and allow the certification.”

But Trump “refused,” the indictment says.

Trump nods to Biden victory: ‘It’s too late for us’

Trump, in dealings with others, seemed to admit that Biden had won the election and would soon replace him in the White House.

The indictment says that on Jan. 3, 2021, Trump “met for a briefing on an overseas national security issue with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff [Mark Milley] and other senior national security advisors.”

President Donald Trump speaks as Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley looks on after senior military leaders briefed Trump in the Cabinet Room at the White House, Oct. 7, 2019.

Mark Wilson | Getty Images

“The Chairman briefed the Defendant on the issue — which had previously arisen in December — as well as possible ways the Defendant could handle it,” the indictment says.

Milley and another advisor recommended that Trump take no action “because Inauguration Day was only seventeen days away and any course of action could trigger something unhelpful,” the indictment says.

“The Defendant calmly agreed, stating, ‘Yeah, you’re right, it’s too late for us. We’re going to give that to the next guy,” the indictment notes.

Trump inserts language about Pence in Jan. 6 speech

Trump had lobbied Pence to reject certifications of Biden electoral slates from multiple states that he lost.

Trump did so again on the morning of Jan. 6, 2021, before Pence was due to preside over the joint session of Congress that would confirm Biden’s victory in the Electoral College.

President Donald Trump listens as Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a daily briefing of the White House Coronavirus Task Force in the Rose Garden at the White House, April 15, 2020.

Alex Wong | Getty Images

“At 11:15 a.m., the Defendant called the Vice President and again pressured him to fraudulently reject or return Biden’s legitimate electoral votes,” the indictment says.

“The Vice President again refused.”

Right after that phone call, Trump “decided to single out the Vice President in public remarks he would make within the hour, reinserting language that he had personally drafted earlier that morning — falsely claiming that the Vice President had authority to send electoral votes to the states — but that advisors had previously successfully advocated be removed,” the indictment states.

Soon after Trump made that speech in front of the White House, the mob of his supporters began attacking the Capitol, forcing Pence and members of Congress to flee to safety.

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