“Unpacking the ‘Surprise’ Crime in DOJ’s Target Letter to Trump”

Norman Eisen, Ryan Goodman, and Joshua Kolb in Just Security:

On Tuesday the world learned that the Department of Justice had served Donald Trump with a target letter for crimes related to January 6th. On Wednesday, reporting by The New York Times and Bloomberg News detailed which charges the letter actually contained. Two of the charges were expected: Conspiracy to Defraud the United States (18 USC § 371) and Obstruction of an Official Proceeding (18 USC § 1512). The letter also reportedly includes a third statute that the paper of record aptly described as a “surprise:” 18 USC § 241, conspiracy to deprive people of their rights….

While [the section 241 charge] looked to some to be an unconventional charge, it appears to us to squarely cover Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election, and to fit within prosecutorial and court precedents as we explain in detail below.

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