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The latest Trump indictment lists 6 unnamed co-conspirators. Here's what we know

Nadine Seiler protest as she holds a banner outside the Washington, D.C., federal court on Tuesday in Washington.
Jose Luis Magana
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AP
Nadine Seiler protest as she holds a banner outside the Washington, D.C., federal court on Tuesday in Washington.

Former President Donald Trump remains the only person charged in an alleged conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election results. He's set to make his first court appearance later Thursday afternoon at the Washington, D.C., federal courthouse.

Trump will be standing alone as he appears in court. This is despite the fact that federal prosecutors list six other individuals that they say served as crucial roles in this alleged conspiracy. The six unnamed allies have not been criminally charged or officially named by prosecutors.

An attorney for Trump ally Rudy Giuliani, Robert J. Costello, confirmed to the New York Times that he "appears" to be co-conspirator 1. And John Eastman, a former Trump attorney, has said he is co-conspirator 2.

The identity of the rest of the co-conspirators couldn't be immediately confirmed. However, information included in the indictment matches details of individuals who were key players in the former president's 2020 election campaign and subsequent efforts to overturn the results like attorney Sidney Powell and former U.S. Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark.

Former federal prosecutor Leslie Caldwell told All Things Considered that the prosecutors' choice to keep these names out of the indictment was likely done to "keep the case as streamlined and straightforward as possible."

"The more people who are co-defendants in a case, the longer the case will take to get tried. So there's obviously some belief and desire to get this case across the finish line in a timely fashion — which if there were six defendants instead of one probably would not happen, of course," she said.

Time is of the essence in this case. This criminal case comes as Trump is running for president and is contending with a lawsuit and two other criminal cases out of New York and Florida.

Caldwell noted that it's unlikely that prosecutors left the names of these individuals out believing they will cooperate or consider cooperating.

"We've seen no sign that any of these people, assuming that we've identified them correctly, are cooperating or even thinking about cooperating," she said.

Harvey Silverglate, one of Eastman's attorneys, told NPR that Eastman's legal team figured out he is one of the co-conspirators on their own, through details offered in the court documents.

He maintained that his client is innocent and simply offered Trump legal advice during and after the 2020 election.

Silverglate said that at no point did federal investigators inform them that Eastman was a target of prosecutors — even after the indictment against Trump was published.

"I consider it highly indecent to name unindicted co-conspirators without using their names. Each person is entitled to know if he's a target of this investigation," Silverglate said. "Nobody from the Department of Justice has had the common decency and professional courtesy to let us know that he's a target."

Along with Eastman and Giuliani, Powell and Clark served as Trump's allies and attempted to wield their powers in their respective positions to turn the election in Trump's favor — an effort that exploded into violence when his supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, according to prosecutors.

Attorneys for Powell and Clark couldn't be reached. Costello, Giuliani's attorney, didn't respond to NPR's request for comment.

Here's what we know about these Trump's allies:

Rudy Giuliani

The federal indictment offers several clues into Giuliani's potential identity as the first co-conspirator.

Federal prosecutors describe this individual as an "attorney who was willing to spread knowingly false claims and pursue strategies that the defendant's 2020 re-election campaign would not."

On Jan. 6, 2021, Trump was set to speak at a rally ahead of the 2020 election being certified in Congress later that day. Giuliani and Eastman spoke before the former president.

The federal indictment against Trump says he picked "co-conspirator 2 to join co-conspirator 1" to make public remarks before Trump spoke.

The federal indictment says that co-conspirator 1 told the crowd that Vice President Mike Pence could "'cast the [Electoral Count Act] aside and unilaterally decide on the validity of these crooked ballots.' " The indictment said co-conspirator 1 "also lied when he claimed to 'have letters from five legislatures begging us' to send elector slates to the legislatures for review, and called for 'trial by combat.' "

These were comments made by Giuliani at the rally. Giuliani, once considered a hero after the 9/11 attacks in New York City when he was mayor, was also once an accomplished federal prosecutor who became famous for the prosecution of the city's mafia bosses during the 1980s.

John Eastman

Attorney John Eastman, the architect of a legal strategy aimed at keeping former President Donald Trump in power, talks to reporters after a hearing in Los Angeles, Tuesday, June 20, 2023.
Jae C. Hong / AP
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AP
Attorney John Eastman, the architect of a legal strategy aimed at keeping former President Donald Trump in power, talks to reporters after a hearing in Los Angeles, Tuesday, June 20, 2023.

"Co-conspirator 2" is described in the indictment as another attorney "who devised and attempted to implement a strategy to leverage the Vice President's ceremonial role overseeing the certification proceeding to obstruct the certification of the presidential election."

In an interview on conservative activist Charlie Kirk's podcast, Eastman confirmed his identity as "co-conspirator 2."

"I suppose it's good news from my point of view that I'm an unindicted co-conspirator rather than an indicted co-conspirator. I look forward to maybe being called as a witness to come to President Trump's defense, because getting legal advice about contested interpretations of constitutional provisions is not, and never has been, and never should be a criminal action."

He was deeply involved in the plan to send alternate slates of pro-Trump electors to Congress. And during the Jan. 6 rally, Eastman made comments to the crowd of Trump supporters, firing the base up with more claims of voter fraud and criticism of Pence.

In June, the State Bar of California opened its case in Los Angeles over Eastman's efforts to overturn the election and that he should lose his law license over this.

Silverglate told NPR that Eastman, if indicted, will go to trial and if convicted, would appeal.

Silverglate and Charles Burnham, Eastman's other lawyer, "have analyzed Eastman's conduct meticulously," Silverglate said. "We have checked in the applicable laws. And we have concluded he has not committed a crime."

Both Eastman and Giuliani have been embroiled in the ongoing investigation into Trump and his allies' actions in Georgia with a special grand jury in Georgia issuing subpoenas to them both.

Before becoming entangled in a federal investigation into the former president, Eastman was a dean of the law school at Chapman University.


The indictment describes the other unnamed Trump allies as:

  • Co-Conspirator 3, an attorney whose unfounded claims of election fraud the Defendant privately acknowledged to others sounded crazy. Nonetheless, the Defendant embraced and publicly amplified Co-Conspirator 3's disinformation.
  • Co-Conspirator 4, a Justice Department official who worked on civil matters and who, with the Defendant, attempted to use the Justice Department to open sham election crime investigations and influence state legislatures with knowingly false claims of election fraud.
  • Co-Conspirator 5, an attorney who assisted in devising and attempting to implement a plan to submit fraudulent slates of presidential electors to obstruct the certification proceeding.
  • Co-Conspirator 6, a political consultant who helped implement a plan to submit fraudulent slates of presidential electors to obstruct the certification proceeding.
  • These descriptions track closely to some of those known to have been of interest to investigators.

    Sidney Powell

    Attorney Sidney Powell speaks during a rally on Dec. 2, 2020, in Alpharetta, Ga.
    Ben Margot / AP
    /
    AP
    Attorney Sidney Powell speaks during a rally on Dec. 2, 2020, in Alpharetta, Ga.

    Powell is an attorney and federal prosecutor who had a hand in spreading lies after the 2020 election that Dominion Voting Systems' machines had flipped votes. Powell and Giuliani were later sued by Dominion separately over these claims.

    Powell was also behind lawsuits challenging election results — including one against the governor of Georgia alleging "massive election fraud," the federal indictment says without naming Powell. This lawsuit was later dismissed.

    Jeff Clark

    In this Sept. 14, 2020, file photo, Jeff Clark, now former Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, speaks at the Justice Department in Washington.
    Susan Walsh / AP
    /
    AP
    In this Sept. 14, 2020, file photo, Jeff Clark, now former Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, speaks at the Justice Department in Washington.

    Clark featured heavily in the House's Jan. 6 committee hearings that revealed Trump had floated the idea of firing then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and replacing him with Clark, an environmental lawyer at the DOJ. Clark embraced Trump's claims about election fraud and appeared to support a plan to push fake slates of electors in several states.

    This plan led to a confrontation at the White House on Jan. 3, 2021 when several Justice Department officials told Trump they would resign en masse if Clark was pushed to Rosen's position.

    Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.