'Model Prosecution Memo' Outlines a How a 'U.S. vs. Trump' Trial Could Work

Former President Donald Trump could be tried for violating "at least two federal criminal statutes" in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election, according to a "model prosecution memo" outlined by a national security analysis team.

The memo was published Tuesday by Just Security, a national security forum based at New York University's School of Law. The publication outlines what it says are possible crimes that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) could charge Trump with committing.

While the memo is only a recommendation of charges and carries no legal weight, the author said that it serves to "enable supervisors and others in the chain of command to review the evidence, anticipate defenses, and assess the strengths and weaknesses of a criminal prosecution."

The main charges outlined by the memo are related to former President Trump's actions following his loss in the 2020 election. This includes the accusation that Trump "exerted pressure on Vice President Mike Pence to reject the certificates of electors from certain states won by Joe Biden and declare Trump the winner."

DOJ Seal
Former President Donald Trump could potentially be charged federally by the Department of Justice for his role in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election, according to a new "model prosecution memo" released by New York University's Just Security. The memo is just a potential outline and is only a recommendation. Here, the DOJ seal can be seen on a podium in 2012. Ramin Talaie/Getty

"Public reporting and some of the evidence obtained…[shows] a relentless campaign to coerce Pence into helping Trump retain the presidency," the memo said. "This effort may have been only one of many schemes within a larger strategy to overturn the election."

As a result of these actions, the memo said, former President Trump could potentially be charged by the DOJ with, at a minimum, two federal criminal statutes. This includes "conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of an official proceeding," which are both actions that the memo claims Trump undertook in his effort to overturn the 2020 election.

"Conspiracy to defraud the United States" is partially defined by the DOJ as an effort "to interfere with or obstruct one of its lawful governmental functions by deceit, craft or trickery, or at least by means that are dishonest." The memo noted that this same charge was used by DOJ special counsel Robert Mueller in his indictment against Russia for alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.

"Obstruction of an official proceeding" is a charge related to the potential obstruction of a meeting of Congress or a U.S. agency. The memo claims that this charge, if brought, would likely be related to Trump's actions on January 6, 2021, during which a crowd of his supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol and halted the joint session of Congress that was certifying President Joe Biden's electoral victory.

The memo also said that the scope of the potential charges could go beyond just these two infractions, though. The memo added that, if additional evidence is uncovered, Trump could possibly be hit with federal voter fraud and seditious conspiracy charges.

Additionally, the memo said that, while the House Select Committee on the January 6 attack continues to investigate the former president's role in the election, a significant amount of news coverage, along with official documents, could possibly corroborate Trump's actions as criminal.

"Public reporting…provides support for Trump's potentially illegal conduct and criminal intent," the memo said.

Also outlined in the memo were the numerous instances in which federal officials, including some from Trump's own Justice Department, such as then-Attorney General William Barr, concluded that there was no widespread voter fraud during the election.

Just Security's memo focused only on potential federal charges that the former president could face. This may not be the only court of law that Trump sees, though, as an investigation in New York state is being conducted into the finances of his business dealings.

A New York judge has already ordered that the former president, along with two of his children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., must comply with subpoenas issued by the state in regards to its investigation.

Newsweek has reached out to Trump's team and Just Security for comment.