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IMMINENT WARNING: TRUMP INDICTED ON 37 FEDERAL CHARGES AS VIOLENT RHETORIC GROWS ONLINE

June 9, 2023

Lydia Baccino, Megan Khalife, Gabriel Helupka

Cameron Munoz, Evan Beachler, Senior Editors


Former President Donald Trump[1]


Event: On June 9, the Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted former President Donald Trump on 37 criminal counts relating to his mishandling of classified documents discovered in his Mar-a-Lago estate. The indictment reveals that these documents encompass material from the Pentagon and US intelligence agencies concerning the US's nuclear program, a foreign country's backing of terrorism against US interests, domestic vulnerabilities to terrorist attacks, and the disclosure to another person of a US "plan of attack" on a foreign nation.[2] Minutes after the indictment, Trump posted on his social media platform, Truth Social, that the “corrupt Biden Administration'' was responsible for this indictment, calling it a “hoax.” Republican presidential candidates have voiced support for Trump, with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis criticizing the charges as a “weaponization of federal law representing a local threat to free society.” Trump has also created a fundraising campaign relating to these charges and released a video stating, “I’m an innocent person… we will fight this out like we have been fighting for years.” Pro-Trump internet forums, including Truth Social, 4Chan, and Patriots.Win, a pro-Trump community from Reddit, have posted violent rhetoric in response to Trump's indictment. While there have not been any definitive attack plans, posts have included threats directed at Attorney General Merrick Garland's family.[3] Judge Aileen Cannon has been assigned the case, a former federal prosecutor appointed to the bench in 2020 by Trump. Judge Cannon faced criticism for granting his request for an independent arbiter to review documents seized during an FBI search of his Mar-A-Lago estate.[4]


Significance: The indictment will almost certainly raise political tensions between Trump’s supporters and his critics. His supporters will very likely perceive this as another instance of political persecution of Trump, while critics will likely view the charges as indicative of actions warranting judicial repercussions. Supporters will likely stage large-scale protests near the Miami federal courthouse. Allies of Trump and supporters will very likely lose trust in the DOJ, likely accusing them of unfairly targeting Trump through prosecutorial overreach, prompting supporters to develop anti-DOJ sentiments. The federal indictment of a former US President will very likely polarize public opinion of the DOJ, likely leading to debate about the legitimacy of the charges and the integrity of the political system. Trump’s indictment will almost certainly reinforce his narrative of being a victim of political persecution based on baseless investigations, very likely using the indictment to rally his supporters and seek retribution against their enemies. He will very likely leverage rallied support to push a narrative that the Biden administration and DOJ are coordinating efforts to prevent him from securing the 2024 Republican party nomination, likely in an attempt to consolidate support for the nomination. Trump will almost certainly leverage the indictment in his 2024 presidential campaign, very likely portraying himself as the only candidate fighting against a corrupt system. Trump and his GOP allies will very likely use this message for his June 14 birthday fundraiser, likely emphasizing that the Biden administration is engaging in election interference and weaponizing the DOJ. This fundraising will likely persist throughout the 2024 Presidential campaign, very likely encouraging the dissemination of violent rhetoric online. Trump and his allies will very likely attribute this indictment to the opposition’s efforts to undermine Trump’s political standing, almost certainly using social media platforms to express their sentiments. Disinformation revolving around the 2024 presidential elections will very likely increase, almost certainly resulting in more public disillusionment and division. There is a roughly even chance the indictment will influence undecided voters, likely prompting them to reassess voting for other viable Republican candidates.


Recommendations

  • The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) recommends that Miami Police Department and the US Marshals closely coordinate to increase security around the Miami federal courthouse next week, emphasizingTuesday.

  • CTG recommends that law enforcement closely monitor any online activities related to protesting Trump’s indictment and activities of known right-wing groups who may be preparing for demonstrations.

  • CTG recommends that nearby hospitals and fire departments be on high alert for any violent confrontations resulting in injuries or property damage.

  • CTG recommends that law enforcement work closely with DOJ staff to ensure their and their families protection from violent protests and threats posted online.

  • CTG recommends that social media companies adopt algorithms that can delay the virality of malicious and unverified content related to the indictment to reduce potential widespread disinformation on their platforms.

  • CTG recommends social media platforms promote media literacy, as the general public should have the skills to evaluate statements and fact-check sources to distinguish between disinformation and facts. Especially around high-profile events like Trump’s indictment and as candidates campaign for the 2024 Presidential elections.

  • CTG recommends that investigations into the allegations against Trump remain independent and impartial to preserve the integrity of the US judicial system and promote public trust throughout the process.

  • If there is any additional and or critical information, please contact us at The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) by Telephone 202-643-2848 or email info@counterterrorismgroup.com

 

[1]Donald Trump” by Gage Skidmore licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

[2] Trump faces 37 criminal counts in classified documents case, Reuters, June 2023, https://www.reuters.com/legal/trump-faces-federal-charges-classified-documents-case-adding-legal-woes-2023-06-09/

[3] Trump indicted on 7 charges in classified docs probe, NBC News, June 2023, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/trump-says-truth-social-indicted-classified-docs-probe-rcna79343

[4] Trump case assigned to judge who faced criticism over her ruling in his favor in Mar-a-Lago search, AP, June 2023, https://apnews.com/article/who-is-aileen-cannon-trump-judge-52964c2098546f8ade989b1555e44aae

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