Republicans Are Finally Being Held Accountable for Their Election Subversion

Trump standing next to a blue judges hammer and blue scale, in front of a red background.

Yesterday, almost two and a half years after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, former President Donald Trump was indicted by a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C. for his  unprecedented efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Charged with four criminal counts — including Conspiracy to defraud the United States, Conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, Obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding and Conspiracy against the right to vote and have one’s vote counted — Trump is finally on the road to accountability. From attempting to send fraudulent electors to certify himself as president to inciting a violent insurrection, Trump, according to the indictment, aimed to “to make his knowingly false claims appear legitimate, create an intense national atmosphere of mistrust and anger and erode public faith in the administration of the election.” 

Yesterday’s indictment stems from a special counsel investigation, which began in November 2022 when U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed former Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Smith to investigate the role of Trump and others in the leadup to the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection as well as Trump’s handling of classified documents, the latter of which he was already indicted for earlier this year. 

Though Trump was the only named defendant in yesterday’s indictment, the unsealed document also outlines six co-conspirators who aided Trump in his actions, some of whom are already facing accountability. Although not officially named, the co-conspirators are purported to include Sidney Powell, John Eastman and Rudy Giuliani, three Trump lawyers who alleged outlandish claims of fraud and conspiracy following the 2020 election, as well as Jeffrey Clark, another Trump ally. 

Accountability is not just coming to Trump, and it is not just coming in this one case. With another indictment imminent out of Georgia and ongoing disbarment proceedings for Trump’s lawyers, the architects of the insurrection are finally being held accountable for their blatant attempts to subvert the 2020 election. 

Fani Willis is closing in on a potential state-level indictment in Georgia.

While the indictment out of Washington D.C. is the latest hammer to drop, another potential indictment is brewing in Fulton County, Georgia, which would mark the former president’s fourth indictment. More than two years ago, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) launched a sprawling investigation into Trump and his allies over their attempt to overturn the election in Georgia. That investigation now seems to be coming to a conclusion, as earlier this month two grand juries were impaneled  (when a jury is formed)  to investigate the events following the 2020 election. Willis has stated that if an indictment comes, it will likely be next month.

The investigation in part centers around Trump’s hour-long phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) where the former president pleads with Raffensberger to “find  11,780 votes,” the amount necessary to win the state. Willis’ investigation also examines Trump’s effort to convene a special session to overturn the results in the state, Rudy Giuliani’s false statements made to the Georgia Legislature, a “fake slate” of electors and more. A special grand jury that was previously impaneled for the investigation recommended indictments against multiple people, although that decision was not binding. 

Rudy Giuliani is facing potential disbarment for his election subversion.

While Giuliani is not the main focus of yesterday’s indictment of Trump, the spotlight is fully on him elsewhere. Earlier this month, a Washington D.C. bar disciplinary committee recommended that Rudy Giuliani, a key lawyer for Trump during post-election litigation, be disbarred. The disbarment recommendation stems specifically from one of the post-election lawsuits the Trump team filed, Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. v. Boockvar. In that case, Giuliani and company sought to overturn the results in Pennsylvania based on accusations of supposed fraud, but the board concluded that the lawsuit was baseless and illegitimately filed. The lawsuit failed to provide evidence for even a single case of fraud. 

Giuliani also recently admitted to making false statements about Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, two Georgia election workers who came under threats after falsely being accused of manipulating ballots by Giuliani and others. The concession is in response to a defamation lawsuit filed by the two workers in 2021. 

In just one portion of a searing statement calling for his disbarment, the board wrote: “The misconduct here sadly transcends all his past accomplishments. It was unparalleled in its destructive purpose and effect. He sought to disrupt a presidential election and persists in his refusal to acknowledge the wrong he has done. For these reasons, we unanimously recommend that Mr. Giuliani be disbarred.” 

A court of appeals will be tasked with deciding whether or not to go through with disbarring the former Trump lawyer. Giuliani was also suspended from practicing law in New York in 2021 as a result of false statements he made while trying to overturn the election results. 

John Eastman is also facing a disbarment trial.

Not to be outdone by Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, another former Trump lawyer, is also facing disbarment over his efforts to overturn the election. Eastman was specifically a vocal proponent of the fringe independent state legislature theory, which he relied on to rationalize his subversion attempts. His theory rested on the idea that state legislatures alone can decide how presidential electors are chosen, a plan that he was able to get in the hands of Trump and his campaign in the form of two memos. The memos gamed out multiple subversion scenarios, one of which instructed then-Vice President Mike Pence to unilaterally declare Trump the winner. Behind the scenes, Eastman knew his actions were dubious. He admitted that his plan would violate federal law and also requested to be given a preemptive pardon from Trump.

Eastman is currently undergoing a trial in California, where the State Bar of California is seeking to revoke his bar license based on 11 disciplinary charges relating to Eastman’s election subversion. The charges include failure to support the U.S. Constitution and laws of the United States and intentional misrepresentation. The state bar’s chief trial counsel said in a statement that “Eastman violated this duty in furtherance of an attempt to usurp the will of the American people and overturn election results for the highest office in the land – an egregious and unprecedented attack on our democracy – for which he must be held accountable.”

Michigan’s attorney general indicted the entire slate of “false electors” from 2020.

Earlier this month, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) announced that she was charging 16 Michigan residents with a slew of felonies for their involvement in a false electors scheme within the state. The 16 residents, who were the Trump campaign’s slate of electors if he had won, erroneously signed certificates claiming they were the duly elected electors for the state. After failing to deliver the certificates to the Michigan Senate, they later sent them to the U.S. Senate and National Archives. Nessel charged each false elector with eight felonies including Forgery and Election Law Forgery, all of which carry either a 5 or 14-year prison sentence.

In announcing the charges, Nessel said that the defendants “carried out these actions with the hope and belief that the electoral votes of Michigan’s 2020 election would be awarded to the candidate of their choosing, instead of the candidate Michigan voters actually chose.”  Some big names within the state were charged in the indictment, including a current Republican official and a former co-chair of the Michigan GOP. It is the first time charges have been brought against false electors in any state. 

With multiple indictments and disbarments underway, Nessel’s charges in Michigan add to the recent string of accountability for Trump and his sycophants, with certainly more to come.