There are few crimes quite like the overthrow of a democracy.
It’s why this was always the most serious court action facing Donald Trump.
Assuming a third criminal indictment is in the post, we’ll find out its content soon enough, there’s a range of possibilities that relate to attempts to overturn the 2020 election result.
Obstruction of an official proceeding? Conspiracy to defraud the US of a free and fair election? Inciting an insurrection?
It is legalese for attempting to steal an election and it is jaw-dropping, lest we forget.
Not for the first time, this former president of the United States is staring down the barrel of a lengthy jail term.
This prosecution, assuming that’s what it becomes, will turn on the degree of intent – did Donald Trump know he’d lost the election and did he knowingly take criminal steps to subvert his loss?
Legally, they are questions that will be decided in a courtroom.
Politically, he faces the prospect of a 2024 presidential campaign punctuated by three separate criminal trials.
Prosecutions one and two haven’t taken it off the rails and he’s already deployed the defence template that’s worked so far – in announcing news of the “target letter” himself, Trump hit the caps key on his Truth Social platform to denounce “ELECTION INTERFERENCE” and “WEAPONISATION OF LAW ENFORCEMENT”.
The mantra has helped to maintain his position as frontrunner to be the Republican nominee for the next US election.
Will new charges make a difference? They relate to crimes that undermine the principles of US freedom and democracy, so why wouldn’t they?
It might be instructive to look at the last time the evidence was laid out – to limited effect.
What investigations is Donald Trump facing?
A US congressional committee of inquiry spent months looking into January 6th, the insurrection and events surrounding it.
As eye-watering as the testimony was and as damning as its findings were, conclusions were divided along political lines – Democrats cried “treason” and Republicans responded with “witch hunt”.
There’s every chance the fallout from any federal court case will be the same – seen through the prism of political division, with opposing sides entrenched in the political extremes.
And look at the other indictments already laid against Trump – they have scarcely burdened him.
Crucially, however, there is a constituency that will make a difference – not in the political extremes but in the centre.
The independent voters who deserted Donald Trump in 2020 won’t necessarily be sold on the reassurance of a man facing three sets of criminal charges.
Throw in a recent finding of sexual abuse by a New York jury and it all looks more pantomime villain than president – with his days in power behind him.