Trump, legal experts agree he faces imminent indictment in federal Jan. 6 investigation

Former President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he will soon be indicted in special counsel Jack Smith's investigation of attempts to overturn the 2020 election, and legal experts agree that is a correct reading of the target letter he received from Smith on Sunday. The letter, which Trump disclosed on social media Tuesday morning, gave the former president four days to testify before a grand jury in Washington, D.C.

Trump is expected to decline the invitation to testify, and the grand jury could vote to indict him soon after the deadline passes.

This would be Smith's second indictment of Trump, after the 37 criminal charges he filed last month for retaining top secret documents at his Mar-a-Lago club and obstructing efforts to get them back. Trump was also indicted by Manhattan's district attorney in March over hush-money payments to a porn actress, and he could face a fourth set of criminal charges in Fulton County, Georgia, as soon as August, also for trying to overturn his loss to President Biden.

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"Using the Mar-a-Lago case as a guide, an indictment could come next week" in Smith's election tampering case, former federal prosecutor and Justice Department official Brandon Van Grack told USA Today.

Until any indictment is unsealed, we won't know what crimes Smith is alleging, but the letter indicated Trump could be charged under three federal statutes, The New York Times and ABC News report: conspiracy to defraud the U.S., deprivation of rights under color of law, and tampering with a witness, victim, or informant.

Smith is said to be investigating whether Trump and his allies pressured Vice President Mike Pence to overturn Biden's win in the electoral college, what role Trump played in setting up fake electors in several swing states he lost, and whether his campaign committed fraud by raising money off his false election fraud claims. The now-disbanded House Jan. 6 Committee, in referring Trump for criminal prosecution, concluded that he was at the center of a complex, months-long effort to reverse his loss.

Smith's D.C. grand jury is evidently still hearing testimony from witnesses in the investigation, and Trump's team has been asking around to learn if any other potential defendants in the case have also received target letters from Smith. "We can't find anyone," a source told ABC News on Tuesday afternoon. Attorneys for Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman, a lawyer who promoted the false idea that Pence could overturn the election, have said their clients have not received target letters.

Trump criticized the imminent indictment in a Tuesday night interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity. "You could call it fascist, you could call it Marxist, you could call it communist, what they're doing," he said. "like with the Department of Justice they've totally weaponized that, it's weaponized like we've never had this before."

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.