Federal prosecutors reveal evidence they want to use against Trump — his own words

WASHINGTON — Special counsel Jack Smith plans to use former President Donald Trump’s own words against him in the upcoming federal election interference trial, according to a new court filing.

Prosecutors said in Tuesday’s filing that they want to focus on Trump’s long history of calling election results “fraud” when the results don’t suit him, as well as his vocal support for violent Jan. 6 rioters.

In addition to a lengthy list of Trump’s public statements over the past decade, the nine-page filing from Smith’s office refers to an incident involving an unidentified Trump campaign employee who allegedly tried to obstruct the 2020 vote count in the battleground state of Michigan, which Trump won in 2016, after the tally began to swing Joe Biden’s way.

According to prosecutors, the employee messaged a lawyer supporting the Trump campaign’s operations in Detroit and “encouraged rioting and other methods of obstruction when he learned that the vote count was trending in favor of the defendant’s opponent.”

That portion of the filing, which is largely redacted, said that soon after the messages were sent, “a large number of untrained individuals flooded” the voting site at the TCF Center, since renamed Huntington Place, “and began making illegitimate and aggressive challenges to the vote count. Thereafter, Trump made repeated false claims regarding election activities at the TCF Center, when in truth his agent was seeking to cause a riot to disrupt the count.”

The bulk of the filing focuses on Trump’s comments before and after the 2020 election, when he sought to sow doubt about the results and intimidate those who challenged him.

The filing said Trump’s remarks casting doubt on the results of the 2012 and 2016 elections will be presented as evidence in his Washington, D.C., trial, scheduled to begin in March, because they reflect Trump’s “historical record of making such claims.”

Molly Gaston, senior assistant special counsel, cited a tweet from Trump in November 2012 that she said made “baseless claims that voting machines had switched votes from then-candidate (Mitt) Romney to then-candidate (Barack) Obama.”

“During the 2016 presidential campaign, the defendant claimed repeatedly, with no basis, that there was widespread voter fraud — including through public statements and tweets,” Gaston added.

Statements like those, prosecutors argue, illustrate Trump’s “plan of falsely blaming fraud for election results he does not like.”

A spokesperson for Trump, Steven Cheung, said, “Crooked Joe Biden, Deranged Jack Smith, and the rest of the Hacks and Thugs attempting to interfere in the 2024 election are getting so desperate to attack President Trump that they are perverting justice by trying to include claims that weren’t anywhere to be found in their dreamt up, fake indictment. President Trump will not be deterred.”

Trump is charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction and conspiracy against the right to vote and to have one’s vote counted for trying to prevent the peaceful transfer of power. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Prosecutors said they intend to show how Trump had “an established pattern of using public statements and social media posts to subject his perceived adversaries to threats and harassment.”

Among other examples, the filing points to Trump’s treatment of two Georgia election workers who aren’t named but who fit the descriptions of Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Wandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss, who were falsely accused of rigging votes by Trump and his allies. The filing says Trump continued to “falsely attack” the pair “despite being on notice that his claims about them in 2020 were false and had subjected them to vile, racist, and violent threats and harassment.”

It also noted that after the House Jan. 6 committee published transcripts of its interviews with the two women in December of last year, when they “provided graphic testimony about the threats and harassment they endured after the defendant and his agents falsely accused them,” Trump then “doubled down and recommenced his attacks on the election workers in posts on Truth Social. He even zeroed in on one of the election workers, falsely writing that she was an election fraudster, a liar, and one of the ‘treacher[ous] . . . monsters’ who stole the country, and that she would be in legal trouble.”

The filing said those attacks are “after-the-fact corroboration” of Trump’s intent because his remarks came “after it was incontrovertibly clear” that his false claims had caused them harm. That sequence of events, prosecutors argue, means “that the jury may properly infer that he intended that result.”

Another redacted portion of the filing alleges that Trump and “co-conspirator 1,” who NBC News has identified as his then-lawyer Rudy Giuliani, retaliated against the former chief counsel to the Republican National Committee for “publicly refuting” their election fraud lies.

A spokesperson for Giuliani did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Smith’s office said it also plans to point to Trump’s public support of some Jan. 6 rioters as “patriots” and political hostages.

“Of particular note are the specific January 6 offenders whom the defendant has supported— namely, individuals convicted of some of the most serious crimes charged in relation to January 6, such as seditious conspiracy and violent assaults on police officers,” the filing said. “During a September 17, 2023, appearance on Meet the Press, for instance, the defendant said regarding Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio—who was convicted of seditious conspiracy—’I want to tell you, he and other people have been treated horribly.’ The defendant then criticized the kinds of lengthy sentences received only by defendants who, like Tarrio, committed the most serious crimes on January 6.”

Tarrio was sentenced to 22 years in prison, before Trump’s remarks on “Meet the Press,” for his role in plotting the breach of the Capitol.

“Evidence of the defendant’s post-conspiracy embrace of particularly violent and notorious rioters is admissible to establish the defendant’s motive and intent on January 6—that he sent supporters, including groups like the Proud Boys, whom he knew were angry, and whom he now calls ‘patriots,’ to the Capitol to achieve the criminal objective of obstructing the congressional certification,” it said.

“And finally, evidence of the defendant’s statements regarding possible pardons for January 6 offenders is admissible to help the jury assess the credibility and motives of trial witnesses, because through such comments, the defendant is publicly signaling that the law does not apply to those who act at his urging regardless of the legality of their actions.”

Daniel Barnes reported from Washington, and Dareh Gregorian from New York.