Former George W. Bush White House Counsel Lays Out Possible Criminal Charges Against Donald Trump

Richard Painter, who served as White House counsel to former President George W. Bush, has laid out a series of criminal statutes under which he believes ex-President Donald Trump should be indicted and prosecuted for inciting an insurrection at the United States Capitol on January 6th – his recent impeachment acquittal in the Senate notwithstanding.

Photographer: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg/Getty Images

“A District of Columbia prosecutor needs to open a criminal investigation, subpoena evidence and witnesses and indict everyone who incited the January 6 insurrection or conspired with the rioters, including Trump. @COFinkelstein and I discuss the case here,” Painter wrote in a Twitter thread.

Painter began by citing several laws that Trump may have broken as he ordered his hordes to lay siege to the seat of American democracy:

‘Trump could be tried for “rebellion or insurrection” (18 U.S. Code § 2383), for example, formulated as a conspiracy crime (18 U.S.C. § 371), or “conspiracy to engage in rebellion or insurrection.”‘

Next, Painter upped the ante to indicting Trump for sedition, a serious federal felony similar to but less egregious than treason:

‘Alternatively, he could be charged with “seditious conspiracy” (18 U.S.C. § 2384), a similar charge based on the concept of “sedition” rather than “rebellion.”‘

Painter added:

‘The federal complicity statute (18 U.S.C. § 2) provides that if one person “solicits” another person to commit a crime, the first person will be treated as though he had committed the crime himself.’

What was Trump’s intent?

‘If Trump solicited the crowd to engage in criminal behavior, federal law would treat him as though he himself had stormed the Capitol.’

The law is clear, Painter notes:

18 U.S.C. § 373 contains two requirements: the circumstances must suggest that Trump had the intent to engage in conduct amounting to a violent felony and that he ‘solicited, commanded, induced or otherwise endeavored’ to persuade his followers to engage in such conduct.

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