1 of 7 | Then-President Donald Trump speaks to supporters at the Ellipse in Washington on January 6, 2021, urging them to march on the Capitol. A violent riot ensued at the Capitol as Congress met to certify Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 election. File Photo by Shawn Thew/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 1 (UPI) -- A federal grand jury has returned an indictment in special counsel Jack Smith's investigation into former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election, which culminated in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
A judge immediately sealed the indictment, and little information about the case was revealed at first. No information was given about other defendants, though six unindicted co-conspirators were mentioned.
Later, though, after the indictment was unsealed, it showed Trump was charged with four counts: conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an official proceeding, and conspiracy against the right to vote.
"Today, an indictment was unsealed, charging Donald J. Trump with conspiring to defraud the United States, conspiring to disenfranchise voters, and conspiring and attempting to obstruct an official proceeding," Smith said at a news conference after the indictment was handed up.
Calling the Capitol riot "an unprecedented assault on the seat of American democracy," Smith said, "It was fueled by lies: lies by the defendant, targeted at obstructing a bedrock function of the U.S. government, the nation's process of collecting, counting and certifying the results of the presidential election."
Smith called the law enforcement officers who defended the Capitol "heroes" and "patriots" who "are the very best of us."
"In this case, my office will seek a speedy trial so that our evidence can be tested in court and judged by a jury of citizens," Smith said.
"In the meantime, I must emphasize that the indictment is only an allegation and that the defendant must be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law."
Writing in the indictment, the grand jury said Trump "had a right, like every American, to speak publicly about the election" and even to falsely claim voter fraud affected the election.
"He was also entitled to formally challenge the results of the election through lawful and appropriate means, such as by seeking recounts or audits of the popular vote in state or filing lawsuits challenging ballots and procedures," the indictment reads.
However, the grand jury alleged that Trump "also pursued unlawful means of discounting legitimate votes and subverting the election results."
"The purpose of the conspiracy was to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election by using knowingly false claims of election fraud to obstruct the federal government function by which those results are collected, counted and certified."
The judge also approved a summons for the unidentified defendants to appear in court, CNN reported.
Though the co-conspirators were unnamed in the document, the details in their descriptions indicate that they could include Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman and Jeff Clark, a former Justice Department employee.
A spokesperson for Giuliani told NBC News that the former attorney for Trump had not been contacted about the case.
The unprecedented indictment is the second federal one the former president is facing and marks the third time he has been criminally indicted.
The indictment follows a months-long grand jury investigation into Trump's role in gathering supporters and inciting them to storm the Capitol to stop the certification of President Joe Biden's election victory.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said the investigation launched immediately after the Jan. 6 riots, led by "career men and women of the Justice Department."
He said Smith and his legal team "followed the facts" in the case against the former president, adding that Smith's leadership served the department's goal of "accountability and independence" in the investigation.
After news of the indictment broke, Trump released a statement on his Truth Social platform, calling the indictment "reminiscent of Nazi Germany in the 1930s, the former Soviet Union and other authoritarian, dictatorial regimes."
He went on to say he "always followed the law and the Constitution."
Five people died as a result of the clash between law enforcement and Trump supporters at the Capitol, and many more were injured. The U.S. Justice Department has brought charges against more than 1,000 people related to their actions on and around Jan. 6.
Many members from extremist, anti-government and White supremacist groups have been charged with seditious conspiracy, including Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and Oath Keepers leader Elmer Stewart Rhodes.
Dozens of witnesses have testified before the grand jury in Washington, from high-ranking players in the Trump administration, including former Vice President Mike Pence, to low-level aides.